La Passacaglia (aka "What Was I Thinking?")

Of all my crazy endeavors, I think undertaking a project like La Passacaglia has to rate up there with one of my (many, many) questionable decisions.

One thing I've found is that I have a lot of quiet time to myself these days, and sometimes I like to keep busy.  This is definitely the type of project that can keep me busy for a very, very long time.

What is La Passacaglia?

Other than a word that looks impossible to  pronounce...

La Passacaglia is a quilt pattern that can be found in Millefiori Quilts by Willyne Hammerstein.  In fact, it is the quilt gracing the front cover of the book.

My Fabric Choices

This quilt reminds me of both fireworks, and of vintage American flag bunting (don't try to understand why, just go with me on this), so I am going to use a scrappy red, white, and blue theme for my La Passacaglia.

If you want to work on your own La Passacaglia quilt, you'll need  a few supplies.


You'll have to buy the book to get started on this complex quilt.  The book takes a bit getting used to reading (at least for me) because it is in French and English.

Paper Pieces

I purchased the La Passacaglia complete set of paper pieces.  The La Passacaglia Complete Piece Pack includes: Piece A (468 pieces), Piece B (206 pieces), Piece C (640 pieces), Piece D (272 pieces), and Piece E (1368 pieces).  That is a lot of pieces that I don't want to cut out myself.  A worthy investment as far as my time is concerned.

If you don't want to buy a complete set, you can buy the starter set.  You can reuse them and for about $56 you can save yourself the trouble of cutting out 1,400 shapes.  You can buy this from Paper Pieces or keep an eye out on Mass Drop for a bundle with paper pieces and acrylic templates.

Acrylic Cutting Templates

I'm using the acrylic templates that have a 3/8" seam allowance, but I do prefer a smaller seam allowance, and trim mine down a bit more before basting to about 1/4".  I find this amusing because the Paper Pieces website offers templates with a 1/4" or 1/2" seam allowance for purchase also by using the drop down menu!

If you use the search term La Passacaglia on Etsy, you will also find several people offering acrylic templates and even paper pieces for the shapes necessary to create your quilt top.

Planning Diagram

Ketutar offers a Passacaglia graph that is fantastic for planning out the quilt.  I think this graph is essential.  Who really wants to recreate the wheel, so to speak, and create the diagram on their own?

Fussy Cutting Reference (optional)

Love Patchwork & Quilting offers a download all about how to fussy cut for the La Passacaglia quilt.  It is a great reference if you want to take this quilt on.  They also recommend using the following hashtags to find inspiration and ideas for your own La Passacaglia quilt:

#passacaglia #lapassacaglia #passacagliaquilt #millefiori 

#epp #paperpiecing  #fussycutting


If you have caught the Pinterest bug, you can search out countless boards focused on La Passacaglia and Millefiori Quilts.  Some of the fussy cutting I've stumbled across is just amazing.  Just check out a board, or two or three, and you'll see what I mean!


I've seen a couple blog posts started with, "I never paper pieced before I started this quilt..."

I'm slightly impressed by the bravery that goes into taking on such a project.  I've paper pieced before and La Passacaglia is still a very intimidating project to undertake.

But if you've never paper pieced before and want to try to tackle this one, you'll also need some basic English Paper Piecing (EPP) supplies.  Here are my go-to items:

  • Needles
    • Everyone has a preference depending on hand size and project, but I prefer to use a #11 Sharp for piecing and Milliner for basting.  Try out a few different needles to see what works best for you.
  • Thread
    • choose something that blends well with your fabric; hand quilting cotton thread works well for basting, but for piecing, my preference is YLI silk thread.  (It's pricey, don't baste with it!)
  • Thread snips (handy for finishing off each shape after basting)
  • Glue Stick
    • Plain old Elmer's Glue--a dab in the center of your paper piece will keep your fabric positioned right where you want it to be.  Open your junk drawer or ask your kids.  I'm sure you have one hiding somewhere.
    • If you aren't basting with thread, you can purchase a glue stick such as Sewline Fabric Glue Pen to baste your shapes (You'll need refills!  You have a lot of pieces to prep.)  This is the type of glue pen I use for hand applique, but for a quilt of this size and pieces, I'd consider making do with a good ol' school glue stick based on cost alone.
  • Fabric Scissors or Rotary Cutter/Mat
    • You'll need these for preparing your fabric

Basting Tutorial

I prefer to baste with thread.  We will see how long I say that after I get further along in this quilt.  I do like the Sewline Fabric Glue Pen for hand applique projects, so I might give it a go with this project.  That said, it really is something I do to unwind at the end of the day, and I'm in no rush, so needle and thread will be by my bedside table for the near future.

Now La Passacaglia doesn't have any hexagons, but a great basting tutorial (video) is available from Diane Gilleland:  How to Baste Hexies from Fabric Squares.

A Long Way to Go

This post will be a landing page of sorts as I progress through the La Passacaglia quilt.  I'm a very slow quilter, so showing any progress might take me a while, but I enjoy my slow stitching.  I'm also working on a hand applique project, too, that maybe I'll manage to share with you here soon.

Maybe I need to rethink consecutive versus concurrent projects.