Work In Progress – Para Para Quilt – Beginnings + Why seams are off sometimes

Fabrics Pictured


I’m working on a new quilt pattern.  It’s called Para Para.  It’s a modern sampler quilt and I’ve had my mind on this quilt most of this year.  The idea came a year or so ago when I watched the mini series Alias Grace.  Have you seen it?  Omigosh, if you haven’t seen this movie, you are missing out on some serious quilty stuff.  My favorite scene is the second time she meets the doctor and she is telling him all the different quilts, why women make quilts, what different quilts are for and which quilts you should have made before you are married.  I have watched that scene so many times!  Another favorite scene is at the very end of the movie when she shows you the Tree of Paradise quilt that she made that tells her story abstractly.  She talks about the fabrics she used and why and what the whole thing means to her.

Let me be clear though that while quilts is a running theme throughout the whole series and book, it’s fictionalized true crime with a whole bunch of women troubles thrown in and some mental illness too.  It’s a phenomenal story.

I had watched this mini series (I think it’s four episodes) twice when I decided to order the book.  At the top of the beginning of every chapter there is a quilt block.  I was so enthralled!  You can probably guess what I did next.  Well, I set about making a quilt pattern with a big Tree of Paradise in the middle and all the blocks at the top of the chapters surrounding it.  I contacted the author and the book publisher, hoping to get an okay that I could make a quilt pattern based on all this.  I do realize that all the quilt blocks are traditional and in the public domain, but felt because I was putting them altogether and the idea was from the book I should get an okay first.

This never happened.  I heard from neither.  And this led to me ditching the whole idea.  I am SO GLAD I didn’t get an okay.

Afterwards, I was still obsessed with the Tree of Paradise block and perusing quilts on Pinterest.  Most of the patterns use templates and of course that was going to be a no go for me, so I set about creating a pattern for the block that could be rotary cut and pieced.  Then I played with placement, and then well a whole quilt pattern was born that had nothing to do with any of what I’ve mentioned above.  Ha!






There’s a lot of things you can do with a Tree of Paradise block, and when you start adding more of them, things get even more fun.  Once I had my center just how I wanted it, everything just kinda came together here and there.  It’s an intense block, I won’t lie.  I struggled and I’m going to tell you why in just a bit.  I’ve had the pattern written for about a month now and for the past couple of weeks I’ve been testing the pattern myself.  It’s definitely an intermediate pattern, but I will have video tutorials for every step.

I’m hoping to have it to my testers mid-December and to release it late January to early February.

I’ve currently only finished section 1/5, so I’ve got a ways to go before sending it out for testing.


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Let’s talk about piecing.  I’m going to tell you exactly what I was talking about in my Instagram Stories last week, so if you were watching, I’m just repeating myself.

I sew on a Juki 2000Qi.  It is my favorite machine ever!  This machine comes with a patchwork foot.  I’m sure you know that patchwork feet are extremely helpful keeping your seam allowance accurate while piecing.  This machine though, instead of having the usual 1/4″ foot, has a 1/5″ foot.  This is meant to give you a scant quarter inch seam.  I’ve never figured out why scant is helpful, but anyway, I use this as my seam religiously and it’s always served me well.  When it becomes a problem, is when you are piecing a gazillion smaller units and then you have to piece those units to a border.  If you have 12 seams in a row of blocks and everyone of them is 1/5″ instead of 1/4″ and you have to fit these to a border, you are bound to run into some issues.  Your row of pieced units is going to be way bigger than that border.  This is a thought that’s never struck me before, but if I think back I can remember several blocks and borders I had trouble with and couldn’t figure out why.  In the future if I’m piecing with a lot of seams to a border, I’ll be following the 1/4″ line on my machine, not the 1/5″ foot.  Lesson learned!


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So now that you know the problem I had, you can see all my tiny issues in the picture above.  It’s okay.  I know they are there and I’ve made my peace with them.  I’m going to do this quilt again in January and I will be sure to get things right.   So, um, please don’t note all my lining up issues and see under paragraph 3 for the reasoning.  🙂  I’m a bit sheepish.

If you are thinking, “omigosh Melanie, this looks hard.”  Yeah, it is time consuming, but truth be told only Section 1 is this intense.  I haven’t shown you the rest of the quilt because I haven’t got it done yet, but rest assured that it will chill out a bit and hopefully, fingers crossed, you will love it.


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The pic above shows Section 1 completed.  This is the Trees of Paradise and it fits in the very center of the quilt.  Even with it’s imperfect seams I’m squealing and jumping up and down.  Let’s talk about its name.

The quilt is called Para Para and I struggled with finding it a name.  I was saying all the names of all the sections over and over in my head, especially the Tree of Paradise and playing with the word “paradise” and all of a sudden I found myself singing that old Coldplay song.  You know the one.  I’ve always thought it was about hope.  “She dreamed of para…para…paradise.”  My apologies for this being stuck in your head all day.

I’ll show you more soon.  Hugs!





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  1. It’s going to be a beautiful quilt but it does look hard. I’m in the process of selecting fabrics (I keep saying material). for your last three patterns.

  2. Straight onto my to-do list – can’t wait! And yes, I’ve got an idea already for my fabric colours…

  3. First off, there is no perfect quilt. Secondly, no one will see the imperfect seams or the odd cut-off point once it’s all done and quilted. Go easy on yourself. All you can do it try your best. Have fun.

  4. Thanks for the book recommendation. I’m reading Alias Grace now before I look for the series on Netflix. I’m also intrigued by a quilt using all these blocks. Can’t wait to see what you are working on!

  5. I just started getting your newsletter recently and have been reading your archives. I particularly appreciate your approach of designing “meaningful/personal” quilts, that are your design but enable others to make it their own. I was intrigued by the name of “Para Para” and had to read about it. I’m a little too old (or uncool) to be familiar with Coldplay’s music (had to click the link to listen!), but I can totally see how working on this quilt led to that earworm and the eye-catching quilt name.

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