A superbloom is a rare phenomenon in which wildflowers—vibrant foliage and radiant blossoms in yellows, oranges, purples and reds—carpet a normally arid region, following abundant rainfall.

How to mimic this spectacle in fabric? I choose to use linen and shot cottons—woven fabric that gets a two-tone effect from varied thread colors in its warp and weft—to construct home-made chenille. Think old-fashioned bedspreads or bathrobes!

The process involves layering the fabrics; sewing parallel channels through all layers; then cutting between each line of stitching through all layers except the backing fabric, leaving a mass of raw edges on the front. The next next step is making those raw edges “bloom,” by vigorous brushing with a stiff chenille brush and/or by putting the piece through the washer/dryer multiple times. The final step is top-stitching the chenille components together to form a collage.

The chenille bloom, the intensely saturated colors, and the inclusion of shaped pieces of fabric—can you see the “sun” in the upper right corner of the quilt?—give the piece its remarkable depth and texture.

Superbloom is on display in the 28th Members’ Gallery of the Textile Study Group of New York. The show has an interesting backstory; you can read about it in this blog post.

The quilt had previously been juried into New Quilts of Northern California, a special exhibition at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California, from October 17–20, 2019.

36-1/2″ wide x 37-1/2″ high

Photography by Douglas Sandberg