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Kona® Cotton Genetics Quilt

What is the longest work in progress you have ever had? Almost 2 years ago I started a Kona® Cotton quilt. I blogged a little about it in 2012, but somehow this was that one quilt that just always got pushed to the way side when I was busy. Finally, 271 colors later, I am happy to say that it is finished!

Kona® Cotton Genetic Quilts by Alyssa Lichner at Pile O' FabricI went back and forth a billion times on whether to make this a pattern or not. Ultimately, I decided I would just post about my process making the quilt and if enough of you all want an actual pattern then I will take the time to do so.

The Making

Cutting the Hexagons

When I started the Genetics Quilt, Robert Kaufman did not sell the pre-cut Kona® Cotton hexagons yet. So, I started off with a charm square in every single Kona Cotton color.

I spent a few hours with my good friend, the Kona Cotton Color Card, and using painters tape labeled each charm square with the appropriate Kona Cotton color.

Next, I used a friend’s AccuQuilt machine to cut a 1 ½” hexagon from each square. I also cut 1” hexagons from a leave-in applique foundation (as opposed to using paper).

Now you can actually buy pre-cut hexagons in every single color which would save you a ton of time. You would need all seven packs Summer 13, Pastel Palette, Neutrals Palette, Dusty Palette, Dark Palette, Classic Palette, and Bright Palette. The pre-cut hexagons are cut 2”. If you baste them onto 1” papers your quilt will come out to the same size as my quilt, 45” x 45”, or you could baste them onto 1 ½” papers and the quilt would come out to approximately 60” x 60”.

Organizing the Colors and Layout

Next, I put the hexagons in order of my design and labeled them 1 to 271. Each hexagon was thread basted using the leave-in applique foundation. The reason I chose to use the leave in foundation is, because I wanted the hexagons to have a little loft and I wanted to be able to glue the rows to the background without having to take papers out.

Piecing the Row

After all the hexagons were basted, I separated them into rows and put them into zip-lock bags. Over the span of about 6 months I hand stitched the hexagons in rows together. This was my “I don’t feel like doing anything else, so I will stitch and watch a movie” activity. I only got about four rows done and then recruited my friend Danny who is much faster at hand piecing, she stitched the rest of the rows for me.

Assembling the Rows

Once the rows were done, I cut the white Kona Cotton background.  I didn’t want any annoying pins poking me when I stitched around the rows, so as usual I used glue. Using Elmer’s washable glue with a fine tip, I put a thin line of glue around the edges of each row and glued them into place on the background. As I glued each row down I removed the basting stitches. Again another reason why I used the leave-in foundation!

Stitching the Rows

I set my machine to a zigzag stitch with a 1.0 width and 1.5 length, and using clear monofilament thread stitched along the edge of each row.

Machine Quilting

For the backing I didn’t do anything special, just a single backing in Ash Kona Cotton. Using my walking foot and white Aurifil thread I echoed the shapes of the hexagons in lines across the quilt.

Labeling the Colors

Choosing how to label the colors was really difficult. I could have been a complete nut and embroidered the names, or maybe used a fabric pen (my handwriting is terrible), but I chose to use fusible labels. I cut a piece of white Kona Cotton, stuck a sheet of Pellon® EZ-Steam™ II  to the wrong side of the fabric and cut the sheet to 8.5” x 11”. I created a template in Photoshop which had the names of the colors in rows and columns. I fed the sheet through my Inkjet printer and printed the template. Next using a paper cutter, I cut each of the 271 labels out (I must really seem a bit nutty at this point). I placed the labels on top of my color card to keep everything organized. One by one I peeled the paper off the back of each label and fused them into place above each hexagon. The heat from the iron also sets the ink in the label so it won’t bleed. Technically according to the directions from Pellon® you do not need to stitch the fusible down. When I use this fusible on a project that will be washed I always secure it with stitching. I don’t have any plans to wash this quilt; because it is a wall hanging and by this point in the process I was so tired I decided to leave the labels without stitching.

Adding the Logo

For the Kona® Cotton Solids logo I used Pellon® EZ-Steam™ II again. I cut each itty bitty letter out, fused them into place and then stitched around each letter with a zigzag stitch and monofilament thread.

Kona® Cotton Genetics Quilt by Alyssa Lichner at Pile O' Fabric

The Finished Quilt Specs

  • Size: 45” x 45”
  • Fabric: 271 Kona Cotton hexagons, White Kona Cotton for the background and binding, and Ash for the backing.
  • Thread: Aurifil Thread in White and Monofilament

As you all know I love Kona Cotton and use it in the majority of my quilting projects, but did you realize I loved it so much I would be crazy enough to make this quilt? Funny thing is Robert Kaufman is coming out with even more colors this summer, which of course I am very excited for, however those new colors will not be getting their own quilt :).

Thanks for stopping by and reading about my process making the Kona® Cotton Genetics Quilt.




Creator of Pile O' Fabric