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Finish: Morsafada – Alien Flora Mini-Quilt

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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