The Tree of Life, Part 1: planning

I’m in the planning stage for what may be perhaps the second most complicated and labour-intensive quilt of my life (for the most labour intensive, see and scroll down to My heirloom quilt).

I promised my brother a lap quilt.  I asked him what sort of colours he’d like, and what sort of design.  I got all sorts of visual source material… He wants a Tree of Life, something that speaks of the beauty of creation. He wants branches, trunk, roots, leaves, fruit, flowers. He wants sea and sky, birds and fishes.

Oh. Um…

I’d envisaged a fairly easily assembled  lap quilt with a clean, modern colour scheme.  He has a fairly limited notion of the technical limitations of patchwork and quilting, but a fairly clear notion of what he wants. We now have an agreed design. I just have to make the thing. Somehow…

The Tree of Life design. Copyright 2013 Kate Chiconi (in the unlikely event someone else wants to put themselves through it...)

The Tree of Life design.
Copyright 2013 Kate Chiconi
(in the unlikely event someone else
wants to put themselves through it…)

So, here’s how it’s going to look. The entire background is going to be made up of 3.5″ squares, and everything else will be appliqued on.  It will graduate from deepest blue at the bottom up through various other blue shades to turquoise at the halfway point. After that it will go from pale, palest blue up to the blue of a summer sky. Fish will swim in the bottom half, and birds fly in the top half.  The tree will be contained by a circular frame which will have to be laid down as a bias strip applique, since piecing that curve and keeping it circular would be virtually impossible.  I will have to construct the tree in sections, and the leaves individually. The roots are going to be fun, too… I draw the line, however, at creating individual grapes for the bunches of grapes. The outline and some highlighting will have to suffice.  The flower petals, though, will have to be individual.


Auditioning the sea and sky fabrics for the Tree of Life quilt

I haven’t even begun to consider the backing, or how it’ll be quilted.  At present, I’m auditioning and assembling blues and turquoises for the background.  Once I’ve got the whole background pieced, the fun will start, but it’ll be easier working to scale than trying to envisage it from a small drawing.  I’ve tried scaling up, but it becomes a dreadful mess of graph paper, sticky tape and things not quite lining up.  So I’ll address that problem once I have a full size background I can stand back from and squint at.

For those of you who believe in the power of prayer, a few wouldn’t go amiss. I’m going to need all the Divine intervention I can get if I’m to complete this thing with my sanity, patience and creative urge intact.  Having said that, though, won’t it be totally gorgeous when it’s done?

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, or perhaps (probably!) lack of it, as I go along.


14 thoughts on “The Tree of Life, Part 1: planning

  1. Tracey R says:

    Love the colours. It is going to look stunning!

  2. Anlina says:

    Well, you did ask him what he wanted!!!

  3. Lynda says:

    I know you will succeed. However, when you are done, I hope your brother will be hanging this lovely on the wall, and not over his lanky legs!

    • katechiconi says:

      It’d be nice to think so… The original plan was for something to tuck round himself when watching TV. If I quilt it very thickly it’ll be a bit too stiff for draping, but the downside of that is that I’ll have to do all that quilting! It’s for his 60th birthday, so I’ll let him decide its fate, but I will put a hanging pocket on the back too, in hope.

  4. Monica says:

    Wow. That’s quite the undertaking. I’ve never quilted, but that looks like the magnum opus of quilting 🙂 I genuinely wish you much luck. And patience!

  5. nsturgill says:

    I’m anxious to see this project develop. I love projects that come from deep inside! Good luck!

    • katechiconi says:

      Thank you so much for the encouragement, which I fear I’m going to need… Assembling the background starts tomorrow, and I think there’s going to be a lot of placing, contemplating, squinting, changing, and finally, sewing. Kate

  6. Chas Spain says:

    Looks wonderful Kate – wow – brothers what are they like? So undemanding.. <:

    • katechiconi says:

      I know, nearly as selfless and undemanding as sisters. I’m unfortunately richly endowed with both, being one of 7 children… But it’s OK, because the work is going to be interesting, the results visually amazing and the sense of satisfaction at the end very powerful. Or perhaps that should be relief…

  7. […] back at the original design for this quilt, The Tree of Life, design you’ll see that there’s a strip of ‘grass’ under the branches of the tree. […]

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