The Firebird quilt

It all started back in March last year, when I stumbled across the SewMamaSew Modern Block of the Month “Up From Here” and sort of fell in love with it …..

firebird quilt

of course, being me, I couldn’t just follow the instructions, I had to tweak it and make it out of my own fabrics …. a mixture of dark-grey flannel (recycled from worn-out school trousers), a pretty black-and-white floral cotton, some peachy-orange kimono silk and a little vintage floral barkcloth ….

And because there was lots going on and I got distracted with other things, nothing more happened for a while …. but it was always nagging at the back of my mind, wanting to go further.

I had a lull in orders over Christmas, so I pulled out my graph paper, ruler and watercolours and started playing around with different block combinations to see what was what …… a lot of them ended up looking like giant bugs of one sort or another marching along the quilt – I don’t like bugs, so I didn’t want to make a bug quilt. And, of course, the one design I did really like was (naturally!) the most complex of them all, AND it meant pulling the blocks I’d already done apart to change them. (Typical!)

So the basic 12″ block became this …..

firebird quilt


and (after much cutting of 2.5″ squares & strips of various length) started to build up to this …..

Firebird Quilt - in progress (4)

until eventually, we got to this ….

firebird quilt


ze finished quilt top!! For me, it’s quite strong colours …. I tend to be more subdued, but I do love it ….. it’s strong, and warm, and (I think, anyway) feels a little oriental, reminding me of Mudejar tile patterns ….. (are my roots showing?)

Now, how to quilt it?

I wanted something that wasn’t too geometric, but would still complement the quilt rather than distract from it. Lots of experimenting with doodles and tracing paper …..

firebird quilt


I fancied feathers, just not as I scrawled them on here …….

But like this ….. (oh look, my roots are showing again ….)firebird quilt

oh man, this is going to take FOREVER, I thought ……

but not quite …. (by the way, don’t you love the backing? Isn’t ebay fabulous? Chances of finding vintage, orange, brushed-cotton sheets otherwise?) I dithered for ages over the colour of the quilting thread, but I’m certain that this King Tut thread, #978 (Rosetta Stone) was absolutely the right choice. (I love those King Tut cottons …. well worth every penny, in my mind – I almost always use them).

firebird quilt

not quite forever …… and I’m so pleased with how it turned out …. it doesn’t interfere with the patterned fabric or disrupt the pattern of the blocks, but does add an extra layer of interest, especially in the solids ….. happy dance time 🙂

Firebird Quilt - complete (11)

and it totally works on the back, too ….. isn’t geometry & symmetry a wonderful, harmonious thing?

And as to how it got its name? Well, all those feathers, and those fiery oranges ….. and that Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite is one of my favourite pieces of classical music (I love the ballet, too), and it just seemed right and fitting that what has become my most complex and favourite quilt was named after it …..

I almost don’t want to part with it …..

Firebird Quilt - complete (1)

but it’s in my Etsy shop, waiting for a home ….

2 responses to “The Firebird quilt

  1. Fabulous, and I remember those sheets, lol.

  2. That’s gorgeous, and I love how the quilting provides a counterpoint to the straight lines of the blocks.

    Oh, and the Firebird Suite is my favorite!

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