Sunday, November 8, 2015

Improvising a Star Trek Villain Quilt & Tutorial

Sometimes a quilt name just jumps into your head, and won't leave. When this quilt was almost finished, it came to me: "Crystalline Entity".

For you non-Trekkers, the CE was a fast-moving giant snowflake which ate everyone and everything. (Details here). Not only that, but the 'Next Generation' episode it appeared in was even more morose and melodramatic than usual.
I didn't set out to make a giant killer snowflake. I had no idea what it was going to look like when I started sewing scraps together.

To me, improvisational quilting  means you set out on a journey - just like the Starship Enterprise - without the slightest clue where you're going. You might  bump into something meaningful, beautiful, campy, and/or murderous, but mostly, it's about the voyage.

I began by cutting a bunch of 1.5" white strips, and going through my scrap pile for smallish blue pieces. Place them on the strip and stitch.

Leave more space than I did between pieces. Press open, then trim the pieces straight, if possible.
 Next side:
 Press open. Repeat until all sides are surrounded:
If you find you have a piece missing (ha!)....
....just add it at an angle. 
Join units together. Start at the center, and build your way out. This is easy when the entity is small, but as it grows, it gets more challenging. (Just like CE!)

When adding an outer piece, I pressed one seam upward (the seam allowance below the dark triangle), then stitched the adjoining seam on my machine (the grey stitching to the right of the dark triangle)... 
 Press open, and hand stitch that lower folded-in edge in place.
When all the pieces were in position,  I tested the entity on various background fabrics. But then I decided I liked it just the way it was, with jagged edges. I pressed it to fusible batting and a white backing....
Cut away the extra....
Finished the edges with a corded edging. Here it is pre-embellishment: 
Without embellishment, it would work as a table runner as well as a wall hanging. But I threw some buttons on it, and one thing led to another...
The finished image is at the top of this post. It's about 23" across, so it probably won't consume a planet any time soon. Along with the vague resemblance to the CE, it also looks to me like someone punched a hole through a wall or a window. Here's a closeup 
In hindsight, I would say that this project went quickly from ridiculously easy to very tricky, especially around the exterior. I could have achieved virtually the same final effect by simply zig-zagging small blue scraps onto one large background piece of white. But hey, as we know from Star Trek, it's not about the ending, right? It's all about the voyage.

By the way, do you think it needs more buttons?


  1. No more blue buttons, maybe a few more white ones. But not every white strip deserves buttons.


    1. That's EXACTLY my instinct too, Dot!!! Thank you!!!

  2. I love it Cathy, and absolutely love the only somewhere buttons! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks so much, Roberta, and thanks also for the "only somewhere" vote! It's amazing how time consuming it is to attach a button!

  3. Cool piece! I love the connection you made to Star Trek, too. The buttons really enhance the design, though I agree they are most effective as "somewhere" buttons.

    1. Thanks, Deborah, for your nice comment and the vote on button placement! So far it's unanimous that I not add or subtract buttons. Much appreciated!