Finish: Morsafada – Alien Flora Mini-Quilt 38

Man, I have never been so hesitant to post a finish before, but here we go. I’ll admit, this project is definitely weird. But I suppose at this point you all are used to that from me!


As some of you are [OMG-stop-talking-about-it-Anne levels] aware, I’ve been doing a quilt design a day (QDAD) challenge for a while. At some point I made a weird little design and stated “I don’t really like this design, unless I think of it as the first of a series of alien flora designs.” That night, all I could think about was how I wanted to do a whole series of alien flora quilt blocks. And how that would finally give me an excuse to play with e-textiles and adding lights to my quilts.


So every day for about 3 weeks, I’d design a new alien flora block, and include a little backstory on the design. It was seriously the most fun I’ve had with QDAD for a while. But it eventually got old and I’ve since moved onto other designs. But I still want to make some of them a reality.


This is the first of the designs. The one that I didn’t like as a quilt design, but did like as an alien flower. It is the Rorshach test of quilt blocks. I’ve heard everything from “girl with pig-tails” to “fairy”, although to me it looks like a walrus. The name “Morsafada” is inspired by the spanish words for “walrus fairy” as a nod to this.


There were a lot of design conundrums with this that made it take a LOT longer than I expected it to. Because suddenly I had to figure out electronics. The electronics mostly live on the back, but I wanted the fiber optics to be visible on the front and hang down like flower stamen. This meant that I had to cut a hole in my mini-quilt. I ended up leaving a bit of the seam open on the front for them to feed through.


Because it was supposed to be “alien”, I let it drive some of the design decisions. I went with straight-line quilting because I thought it looked a bit more scientific (like a scientific illustration). I did diagonal lines because it’s a little less standard, and I did the half-and-half thing because it felt slightly unnatural. (Thank you Kelley for the idea!)


For the binding, I was torn between doing the same color as the background or something dark. In the end I used a dark chocolate brown (thank you Marla for that idea!) in slightly erratic chunks to look like alien writing. I like to think of it as the catalog number of the Morsafada species.


So the electronics. The fiber optics are hooked up to an LED that can change colors. There is a light sensor on the front of the quilt (it’s the small circle in the middle.) I have the LED cycle through the colors unless the sensor picks up a drop in light (ostensibly because someone is standing in front of the quilt.) When that happens, it changes to white, and stays there until the light levels return to where they were before. This is a nod to the back story I wrote for the Morsafada plant (which is below.)


When I finished this at the maker event I was at this weekend, the main question I got was “so what do you do with that?” I guess that’s what happens when you show an electronic mini-quilt to a bunch of robotics people. Because obviously the answer is “hang it on the wall and make a bunch more to go with it until I have enough for an alien flora show.”

… Right?


The Morsafada plant has small pendulous flowers, which generally bloom in late summer to early fall. They are native to the planet Hadu and are prized as decorative plants by its inhabitants.

The stamen of the Morsafada plant change color when approached, so they are often planted near dwelling entrances to give a sense of welcome to visitors.

Dimensions: 24″ x 24″
Fabrics: Konas that were in my stash and unlabeled (oops), background is Spiceberry by Art Gallery
Binding: Spiceberry solid by Art Gallery, Kona Espresso
Backing: Stashed something or other – I cut off the salvage to keep and then my cat knocked the strip off the table and the dog found it and licked it a bunch and I decided I should probably just throw it away.
Electronics: Lilypad Arduino, Lilypad light sensor, standard RGB LED, fiber optics, and a few resistors
Templates: 3.5″ and 6.5″ quarter circle templates by BettyCrockerAss
WTF: I don’t know! I can’t help it, I like lights. Blinky all the things!

Linking up to Finish-It-Up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts!


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38 thoughts on “Finish: Morsafada – Alien Flora Mini-Quilt

    • anne Post author

      Thanks Laura! 😀 I have my next one picked out, I just need to get the fabrics and get some free sewing time. 🙂 Maybe this weekend! 😀

  • jodydeschenes

    cool. so glad you finally get to see it in action. you may be saying it partly tongue in cheek, but the fact that the light color goes to static white when the sensor is blocked/someone is looking at it, really begs that it hang in a gallery show someday…right?!

      • anne Post author

        Thanks Am, I should have listened to you! ^_^ I’d love for it to be a show, I won’t lie!! A bunch of blinky light quilts sounds awesome! 😀

    • anne Post author

      Hahaha well I did have a show lined up at some point in the future, but the shop that offered it is closing, unfortunately. But maybe a show will present itself at some point and I will be ready this time! 😉

    • anne Post author

      Thanks Amanda! 😀 The next one is probably going to be a bit more subtle, but I suppose we’ll see! 😉 I have lots of ideas and lack the knowledge to implement most of them, but reality is such a BORING constraint.

    • anne Post author

      Thanks, Jenn! I constantly forget that I blog partly for me, not just for other people. 🙂 I have the next flora picked out, just need some time to work on it (and possibly some fabrics. I haven’t checked my stash yet.)

    • anne Post author

      Awww, thanks dear! ^_^ I just imagined these were specimen some intergalactic botanist had brought back, and of course she’d have little journal entries about each plant. My imagination kinda runs wild sometimes. lol!

    • anne Post author

      Thanks Elli! 😀 I keep meaning to write up an introduction to adding lights to your textile projects tutorial, but need a break in projects so that I can make the tutorial piece! There will definitely be more. You saw how many flora I made. LOL I might return to them as well, I just needed a break. 🙂

  • Adrianne

    This is really really so cool Anne. I think an Alien Flora show would be great! I think the inclusion of electronics and the little backstories are likely to appeal to people who might not otherwise be that interested in quilting. Seriously, fantastic work (I LOVE the design choice you made on the quilting). This is kind of what I was getting at when I posted about diversity in quilting – you bring your own unique perspective and background to quilting and this is what happens!

    • anne Post author

      Thanks so much, Adrianne! <3 I seriously do want to get enough together for an alien flora show somewhere at some point. 🙂 I think it could be really cool! But what do you mean, there are people who aren't interested in quilting? :O Surely those people are just fiction?! ^_^

      I'm hoping future projects will go faster now that I've made some of these design decisions. Although I'll probably have the "do I do the quilting the same for each one?! Different? Different how?!?" debate. Maybe i'll look at different hatching patterns scientific illustrators use. SO MANY IDEAS.

      I do see what you mean about diversity in quilting. I'd LOVE to get one of my robotics friends into quilting. My original dream was to have small motors able to move quilted parts but I'm not there yet on my electronics knowledge. Maybe in a year or two. 🙂 I am just really interested in the idea of interactive quilts! (What does that mean? What could it accomplish? Would it be comfortable? lol)

  • Susan Raineri

    Seriously amazing, Anne! What if the pictures were taken in a slightly darkened room? Would the lights show up more then? I would love to see this in person. You ROCK!

    • anne Post author

      Thanks so much, Susan! The second picture was taken in a darkened room, which is why you can see the red glow so much. 🙂 In person it really shows up! I’m sad you weren’t at the quilt guild meeting, I brought it there! I’ll try to bring it next time you can make it. 🙂

    • anne Post author

      Thank you! 😀 It’s fun working on things that no one else has done (well, that I know of!) but it’s also a bit scary. (There’s probably a REASON no one else has done this. lol)

    • anne Post author

      Hahahaha I was joking at quilt guild that I would enter it into the battery-operated quilt section at QuiltCon. I’ll probably enter it, but have zero expectations of it actually getting accepted. ^_^

    • anne Post author

      Good point! I do like playing with different things, that’s for sure. 🙂 Light up ALL the things! ^_^
      <3 Thanks for your encouragement!!

    • anne Post author

      Thanks Julie!! 😀 The back stories were what really made me enjoy making the designs. It was fun trying to tie in the shapes as well as the inspiration image into the story. I also ended up re-learning a lot of flower terms. LOL

    • anne Post author

      Cheryl! I’d found your blog and website at some point while searching for other people into e-textiles and then lost it with the Great Tab Collapse of 2014. (I might have a lot of tabs open in my browser at one time..) So I’m so happy you commented so I could re-find you! I love your work! Your northern lights quilt is one of my favorites. 🙂 I’m pretty new to all of this stuff but I am having a blast experimenting. I see we both also have a penchant for dying our hair fun colors. 😀 And you have a lecture that looks like it might be a similar concept to a webinar that I’m doing in a couple of weeks. Basically I wish you lived in CA (or I lived in IL) so we could hang out and chat. 🙂