Monday, March 7, 2011

Straight piecing patterns that appear curved : Storm at Sea Pt. 2

A well-known quilter, inventor, and teacher, John Flynn created the beautiful "Heart of the Sea" quilt below for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. It's a grass roots charity whose purpose is to raise awareness and fund research about Alzheimer's and dementia. This charity auctions and sells donated quilts, often made specifically for this project by famous quilt artists.

Heart of the Storm, 16 x 16, by John Flynn, for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative

This quilt has a purple ribbon for awareness, and a heart for compassion, which are hidden within the piecing (see below). The quilt was made with cotton batiks; laser cut, machine pieced and machine quilted. "Heart of the Storm" earned $1000 for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, and it is now an emblem on tote bags and t-shirts that benefit the Alzheimer's Initiative.

Heart of the Storm, detail, showing the heart motif and the storm-at-sea block

During his career as a civil engineer, John Flynn became very interested in the quilting projects done by his wife, Brooke Flynn. He used his engineering background to invent the Flynn Quilt Frame, which holds quilts tightly without basting, so that quilting can be done on a home sewing machine. One of John's talents is his aptitude for precision and accuracy, especially in construction of small quilts using tiny pieces. In the close-up above, you can see how well all the pieces fit together, even though the quilt is only 16 inches square.  In addition, note the perfectly parallel lines of quilting, which brings out the curved, three-dimensional quality of this quilt.

Storm at Sea, 40 x 52, batik pre-cut quilt kit, at Flynn Quilt

The daughter of John and Brooke,  Kate Flynn Nichols designs and sells pre-cut kits of fabrics in light, medium, and dark hues, so that the movement and shapes of the Storm at Sea pattern are easily visible.  Kate offers the pattern in a variety of sizes, including a 30 x 30 inch quilt with 12 inch blocks, a 22 x 30 quilt with 9 inch blocks, and even a miniature Storm at Sea wall hanging, measuring 14.5 by 18 inches.  In addition, Flynn Quilt sells acrylic templates suitable for rotary cutting, along with instructions, so that you can create a Storm At Sea with your own fabric. This is one of those patterns that makes a great scrappy quilt and a useful stash-buster.

Brooke Flynn's interesting blog, Quilting at Windmills, shows photos of John at work, along with the family's travels to quilt shows where John teaches and demonstrates his sturdy, practical, lighweight quilt frame.  Quilting is really a family affair with the Flynns, and they continue to create outstanding quilts and products.

Image permission : Images are shown with the generous permission of the artist.


  1. No question about it, Storm at Sea is still one of my favourite blocks. As you two have shown there is so much that can be done with this pattern to achieve different looks. I may have to investigate the pre-cut kits, a great way to make a wall-hanging without going to the trouble of having to select colours and cut it all out.

  2. Storm at sea is one of favourite blocks though I've never used it myself. These two are beautiful examples. Thanks for posting them.

  3. That is wonderful the way he incorporated the heart and ribbon. Lovely!


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