Tuesday, July 13, 2021


Octo started out as unadulterated fabric play.... pull a favorite mix of fabrics, be inspired by a vintage quilt, and go at it creating some improvisational blocks. It all began with a glance through Bold Expressions: African American Quilts from the Collection of Corrine Riley: May 15-November 6, 2011, a book my daughter, Rachel/@snippetsofsnippets, purchased for me when she was fortunate enough to view the exhibit. The quilt that directly influenced mine was "Giant Octagons with Dividing Bars Quilt," made by an anonymous maker in Mississippi in the 1930s-40s. 

It didn't take much to figure out the improv "snowball" block, as it's commonly known. And made up in some coordinating prints made it super endearing. I'm not usually a fan of sashing and borders, but considering my original inspiration, I just went with it. I made it my own with the varying widths in both, with the added fun of some piecing in the borders.

For the backing, I found the perfect ombre stripe in my stash, Lulu by Chez Moi for Moda Fabrics. Measuring 38" x 51", the quilt top barely fit my chosen backing, but I was careful, and it worked. 

For quilting, I debated, and finally settled on Fancy Straight Line, a favorite from Jacquie Gering's  WALKETA: using Aurifil 50wt #2975 [Brass]. Having used a combination of solid quilting cottons and Diamond Textiles' yarn-dyed cottons, an exceptional amount of texture was created during quilting, and I'm not quite sure if it was my basting or the fabric mix, but in the end I find it fits the mood of the quilt just fine. That, and the yard-dyeds lent a luxurious and soft drape that I love. Batting in this one was Quilter's Dream Select, which may have also added to that drape, but at any rate, it's a soft, cuddly quilt.

I meant to mention, to bolster my memory if nothing else, that the beginning bit of inspiration for my fabric pull for this quilt was a piece of Martini in Mustard from Midwest Modern by Amy Butler. It's the lighter print in the above photo. I've enjoyed this print over the years in more than one colorway, and used most of what I had left as the back for my recent Bow Ties No. 1. For this quilt, I made as many blocks as possible with my remaining bits, so now there are truly only scraps left. So expect to see the last of it in at least one more small project.

It felt like this simple quilt took me forever. For some reason, machine-sewing time has been more limited than usual, so on one hand it dragged on; on the other, it was always nice to come back to. And it reminded me just how much I enjoy the modern traditional aesthetic. Here's to more of it.


  1. The ombre stripe backing is a great compliment; did you select it ahead of time or was it serendipitous that the quilt top fit with a bit of care?

  2. Your Octo quilt is exciting and I looked at Bow Ties #1 in your previous post, another fun improv design!
    So much great design going on here, thanks for sharing!

  3. I can definitely see the African influence in this, and also feel a mid century modern vibe. I know I've told you this over and over but this is one is truly one of my favorites you've made.

  4. Love the contrast between your quilt & the foliage in your last photo, very creative!

  5. Glad you enjoyed the process! And the last pictures with the branches is so beautiful :) xo

  6. Great finish and wonderful photography! I love the quilting design you used - very effective!

  7. I absolutely adore your wonky snowball quilt! The colors mixed with the big blocks of solid colors are perfect and your fabric color choices are amazing. We'll done!