Storm at Sea

June 8, 2007 at 4:06 pm | Posted in Patchwork, quilt | 26 Comments

Storm at Sea

This is a picture of my favourite quilt so far. I made it for an exhibition titled “Contrasts” in 2005 and it was the first quilt of mine that got accepted for an exhibition. The quilt measures 93*125 cm.

The big wave in the lower part of the quilt is inspired by Hokusais “The great wave off Kanagawa”, it’s the first picture in the wikipedia entry I linked to. The contrasts are between the traditional quilt pattern “Storm at Sea”, that serves as the background, and the wave in the foreground. I have a postcard of that wood-cutting that I got after seeing an exhibition of Japanese art some years ago, and I had been kicking around ideas of how tho transform it into a quilt for quite a while. So when the topic of that exhibition came out, I immediately connected that image with the title “Storm at Sea”.

The actual design went pretty fast after that, the biggest problem was to figure out how to sew those waves. I hadn’t been doing anything with curved seams till then, so this was the real challenge involved. To the rescue came Ruth B. MacDowell’s excellent book Piecing – Expanding the Basics. After trying her techniques out on a small quilt block, I decided it was possible to machine-piece the lower part of the waves. The actual breaking wave is machine-appliquéd, though.

The traditional Storm at Sea blocks for the background are pretty small, so I decided to paper-piece them for higher accuracy. The whole quilt is machine quilted. It would have been a great touch to hand-quilt the “traditional” part, but then I’d never have finished in time. I mailed the pictures in on the last possible day, anyway. I added a bit of sparkle for the flying drops of water using beads.

It’s been two years since I finished that quilt, but I still like it very much. Having the right idea in the right moment doesn’t come easy to me, so I really like how that one came out exactly when I needed it.


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  1. Wow, I really like that quilt. You did a great job. I’ve found that I like the traditional patterns that have a little twist to them, something unexpected.

  2. This quilt is not only gorgeous but it tells a story. Congratulations on the exhibit.

  3. Perfect.

  4. Wonderful! Great way to combine a traditional pattern with a contemporary interpretation. How large is this?
    I also love what you’re doing with the fractal inspired quilt.

  5. Thank you!

    The size is in the first paragraph of the post: 93*125cm. (If you need inches, you have to convert yourself. 😉 )

  6. Really fabulous quilt!

  7. This quilt is great! I am a fan both of the great wave and the quilt pattern, but I never dreamed both could be combined in a quilt. I would like to say that it is much inspiring, but I simply know that I could never do something awesome like that.

  8. This is absolutely stunning! Truly inspiring!

  9. We’ve been enjoying this quilt, which we bookmarked a long time ago. We’d love to share this with our readers, with your permission and the correct attribution and links. I don’t see email contact information on your site. Would it be all right if we show this image in an upcoming post – the theme is “new twists on classic patterns” – and link our readers to your page? Thank you in advance, and, thank you for your inspiring work. The quilt is absolutely wonderful.

    • Thanks a lot for your compliments. I really enjoyed making this quilt and still like the result very much even quite a few years later. I just checked out your blog, and I’d be honored to be featured there. Feel free to use the image, and thanks a lot for asking!

  10. When I was preparing to make a Storm at Sea quilt for a neighbor, I came across your beautiful quilt, was blown away by it, and showed it to my son, who was equally enchanted. When the first quilt was finished, I asked Don if he’d like something similar to yours. He said, “You’re crazy!”

    I feel strongly about not copying another person’s quilt, but I still was in love with the idea. So I went to the original print and designed my own version. And instead of the fishing boats, I’m putting in a pair of submarines. The pieced section uses the double diamond version of the Storm, and a different color scheme. However, it’s just for his use, and will never be shown. I hope that’s okay.

    • Hi Pat, great to hear that my quilt has inspired you to attempt something similar. I’d love to see a picture of your version!

      I don’t have any problems with somebody coming up with their own version of something I’ve made, I rather consider it a compliment, so don’t be shy. I’m sure the world can live with another version of it.

      When I got that original postcard I worked from, I had no idea how famous this image is. Ever since, I’ve seen versions all over, sometimes in rather surprising places. I love when that happens!

  11. Wow! I love love love patchwork with applique, and this is AMAZING!

  12. I love mixing traditional and non traditional ideas in a quilt. This is BEAUTIFUL and you are awesome

  13. I just came across your lovely quilt. I am absolutely in awe of your work. I am trying to design a quilt for a Navy Veteran out of her clothes and came across you stunning design. Just wonderful!!!!

  14. […] Storm at Sea is still one of my favourite quilts, even though I made it way back in 2005. […]

  15. At last I can give a nod to the originator of this much copied Storm at Sea. You most certainly created a storm in many quilter’s hearts. Thank you for your continued inspiration!

    • Much copied? I only know of PatW’s version, would love to see more!

  16. […] I came across this Storm at Sea quilt on Pinterest and my jaw literally dropped. The contrast between the Hokusai-inspired wave and […]

  17. Es un quilt maravilloso, Felicidades!!

  18. Beautiful! I love the wave ( one of my favorite art works) and have been thinking about using it also, in some way!!
    Gorgeous work!! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Beautiful…wonderful…
    Marvelous…cute so cute…that else can I say…congratulations!!!!!!

  20. What a stunning quilt, I am not surprised you are proud of it. A real heirloom

  21. Wow! So beautiful. A storm at sea quilt is my 3rd next project. Inspiring!

  22. wonderful.

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