Fables of Fused Floral Fails and Finally a Finish!

Inspiration Photograph Finalists
This is the story about my latest finish...that almost didn't get finished!  This latest project required me to do a value study by translating a color photograph into an achromatic quilt using only grey scale solids and black & white prints!  
The first battle was to select the inspirational photograph.  As I am in the process of organizing my photos (all 12,000+), I had to narrow down the field.  Some contenders included flowers/plants, rocks, pets, and even Legos!  Some were quickly cut while others made it as a finalist.

The second round of auditions involved cropping for more interesting compositions and converting these photographs into black and white to see which had a range of values and interest.

Round 2 of Auditions
Panda was already in black and white and seemed too easy!  I liked the succulent and the pansy, but in the end, it was the lilies (top left) that won out!  I loved all the contrasts present in this photo:  light valued flowers vs. darker value background, soft texture of the petals vs. the hardness of the wooden fence, radiating lines of the flower vs. vertical and horizontal lines of the fencing. 
Using Technology to Prepare my Photograph
Achromatic Fabric Palette
Fail #1:  And this is where I unknowingly cheated with this assignment!  I converted my photo into black and white and then used the posterize function to help establish shapes of different values.  I thought I was being resourceful, but I guess the point was to help train our eye to recognize values on our own.  I will admit that I struggled enough recognizing the different values within my black and white photograph---so I would have been lost using the color version only!

Moving forward--I pulled my palette of black and white prints, along with solids ranging from white, light grey to dark grey and black.  In light of my cheat above, I also tried to choose prints that would help me recreate the interesting textures:  soft lines of the petals, swirls for the wood knots, etc.

Fail #2:  Originally, I started with a 8.5"x11" print out, and quickly realized this was entirely too small to capture some of the details.  So a fellow quilter came to the rescue and helped to print my lily onto larger card stock...thank you Sue!!!

Fail #3:  My new photograph was too large for my small light box, so I had to upgrade to my large light box (aka front window) to establish shapes of various values.  Mind you--I needed to factor in time management to maximize its use before the sun set!  In my effort to capture all the details, I outlined shapes that were entirely too detailed...aka very difficult to cut out!  As I was working with fusible, I kept forgetting to mirror image my shapes, resulting in wasted fusible and/or fabric.  And as there were so many different shapes and sizes, I didn't have a system for labeling or organizing the shapes to keep track of which had been traced, fused, cut out and/or how to put the puzzle back together.  So yeah--it was just one big mess!   Oh--and did I forget to mention the fact that this assignment was due that day!!  Being that it was 10:30 PM and I had 1.5 sloppy flowers fused...I realized I needed to rethink my game plan and requested an extension for more time.
Less Than 2 Hour Left...Not Impressed!!  More Time Please!!
The instructor was very understanding, but I was very disappointed in myself and avoided this project and the studio entirely all weekend.  After a 3-4 day time out, I returned to the studio and set out to establish a more organized game plan.  I started out by hanging two copies side by side, with one of the copies turned over as my mirror copy.  On this mirror copy, I traced out much more simplified outlines and labelled each piece by flower A, B or C, along with numbers to identify all the shapes within each flower!  I used a highlighter to indicate different values.  And then as fusible was traced and fused onto fabric, they were laid out in letter/numerical order to be reassembled later!
Improved Set Up and Organization
I started with the lightest and darkest values for the flowers and set those pieces aside.  But as I moved into the middle values--it was more confusing.  So instead, I switched gears and assembled my background using all solids.  Then I was able to audition my flowers against the background to ensure I had enough contrast and the correct values.
Background and Foreground Flowers
I added a few accent highlights here and there--no tracing, just roughly cut out from leftover fused fabrics.  I could have kept fussing and fussing, but I was afraid it would mess it all up.  So I committed to the final design by pressing it down entirely and moving onto the quilting.  I used a medium grey Aurifil thread and started with stitching wooden grain along the fence background.  Then I moved onto the flowers where I used radiating lines from the center out to each petal shape.  I finished with a faced edge (which still needs to be hand sewn into place!).
Documentation of My Project; FYI--Panda is a Big Fan of the Achromatic Color Scheme!!
I was relieved to finally submit my assignment and return to other more fun and colorful projects!  All the black and white prints and solids have been returned to the stash, and I am relieved that colors will be used for the next assignment.  Alleluiah!!

What did I learn about this assignment?
  • Keep it Simple Silly!
  • "If Plan A doesn't work, there are 25 other letters in the alphabet!"
  • It's ok to ask for help and/or more time!  We are human!
  • I need to brush up on how I view and assign values.
  • Achromatic designs can still be beautiful!

Finally Finished Floral, 11"x14"


  1. Mel, I love it! Wow, what an intricate and detailed quilt. I hope you are proud of your efforts, I think it is stunning! I do love a bit of black and white.

    1. Thanks Roo--this was the quilt I was working on during our PM chats about quilting! Looking at the finished piece through my camera lens helped me to better appreciate the overall design. Its easy to get focused and critical over the small details, especially when you are so close to the project. So it was nice to take a step back and see the final product. You and my Panda both seem to love the black and white combination!


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