myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Jungle Blooms Quilt

This quilt is a bit different for me! Now I’ve started working for Today’s Quilter I have been lured away from the modern quilting style a little.

Not completely though! I couldn’t ever make something I didn’t like!

The idea for this quilt started way back at the Anna Maria Horner workshop at QuiltCon when I was making what turned out to be my Improv Meadow Quilt. Anna Maria had a Dresden Plate quarter in one of her samples and I wanted to add one too, but I didn’t have my Dresden ruler with me. So I just started cutting the wedges freehand and seeing what would happen. It worked fine with plenty of trimming, and so my Improv Dresden was born!

I tried out a whole block back in the summer and loved the way the Dresden could become so wonky and stretchy! I offered it to Jenny Fox-Proverbs for Love Patchwork and Quilting (Jen was then the editor of LPQ). But she wanted it for her new magazine Today’s Quilter.

And look here it is on the cover of the latest issue!!

I am very excited and honoured to have a quilt on the cover for two months in a row!!

Initially I was a bit worried about this commission. That initial block looked very modern to me and I couldn’t see how to make it work for the new magazine which is supposed to be ‘a new look at traditional quilts’. But Jen asked me to make it very low contrast, ‘so that people had to look quite hard to see the pattern’ and that helped me to visualise something that could work.

I had been sent a load of Tula Pink ‘Eden’ and Studio KM ‘Byzantium’ by the very kind folks at Coats UK. I hadn’t found much to use this with as it is very busy and different in colour palette to the rest of my stash. But it suddenly seemed perfect for this project. I then raided my fabric for all my Kaffe Fassett, AMH and Amy Butler fabrics – anything floral, big and busy really!

Still I had to really feel my way all the time with this quilt and wasn’t sure about it the whole way through making it. The idea was to have this ‘cool’ heavily patterned background with the mainly ‘hot’ big blooms of Dresden randomly placed all over. But with some of them so close in tone to the background that they almost fade into it.

As it emerged I thought it was looking like a jungle or a rainforest with huge flowers blooming in the undergrowth – hence the name ‘Jungle Blooms’.

And this was the inspiration for the quilting. I decided I wanted a large leaf and experimented with a few before my husband suggested a cheese plant leaf (well he used the Latin name as he has a degree in botany!), and it worked perfectly and I love the way it looks!

Unfortunately this was when my machine started playing up and missing stitches when FMQing (it is desperate for a service and is going in to the ‘hospital’ today!) so it was a bit stressful!

But the quilting does look fab on the back here in the Autumn sun. My eldest and his girlfriend were holding the quilt for me and they both LOVE this quilt and say it is their favourite ever (and have called dibs on it!), so that gave me some confidence in it (yes I still wasn’t sure at this point!).

I also made a cushion as part of the project. This one on a plain background to emphasise the block. And I think it shows again how this pattern can look both traditional and modern, even with quite busy fabric. Which is exactly what I am aiming at with my TQ projects – a crossover look to bring the two styles together.

I hand quilted around the wedges but was a bit stumped about what I should do with the big centre, until I thought about how much I loved the cheese plant leaf pattern and so I added one here.

And so what do I think of the quilt now?! Well it’s back with me and it’s on our bed, and I do really like it, but… I find it quite difficult to ‘see’. It’s so different from everything else I have made.

I was actually hoping for a ‘Kaffe’ style look of pattern on pattern (something I always admire when I look at his books but have never attempted properly myself), and I think that is what I have got…

…so yes I am now very happy with it!
But what do you think? I would love to know whether you love it or hate it! Don’t hold back, I won’t be offended!


  1. I love it! But I'm not a huge fan of very modern quilts, I'd class myself as a modern traditionalist. And I could very much see this on the bed of my one-day cottage in the country. So a big thumbs up from me! In fact, I'm going to buy the mag to see how you did it. My quilting has been negligible lately and my brain is kicking into gear a little…

  2. I love the saturation of colour and quilting, but honestly can't make up my mind about the wonky dresden. The dresden plate was the first block I ever did and I still love the design. x

  3. Love it! ".. loved the way the Dresden could become so wonky and stretchy! – this really resonated with me! The wonkiness gives the Dresden great quirkiness which I adore and adds to the vibrancy of the quilt! x

  4. I'm excited about the idea of a wonky dresden, you have the best ideas! Your riot of colour and pattern in the quilt is beautiful too, I like the separate of cool back and warm front, a way to add just a bit a a rule to the colours.

  5. I love it. It evokes a sense of summer- the colours are strong and vibrant which is what you find in India but it is floral and British so a real modern colonial and exotic quilt perfect for shady picnics on a humid day set up a few meters from a VW camper van. I love the amalgamation 🙂

  6. I just found a Today's Quilter mag in Canada and I'm so excited to make this quilt! It sent me running to my stash to throw colours around. What a happy quilt! Can't wait to show this to my Modern Quilt Guild.

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