Inspiring + Spiral = Inspiralling

Most of the quilts on this page were made by me and some of my quilting friends in the course of preparing a proposal for Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts.  They were an important part of the learning, exploring and discovery that became the book. 


All quilt designs on this site are copyrighted by the maker and may not be copied or reproduced (quilts or images) in any way without the written permission of the copyright holder.


Spiral Quilts by RaNae Merrill

Infinite Rainbow
Designed, pieced and hand-quilted by RaNae Merrill
60″ x 60″

This quilt was done as a commission for Blank Textiles to showcase a new line of fabrics.  The line included the a full spectrum of colors in three shades.  The rainbow is a 12-sided point-to-point spiral.  The center star is partly pieced (where it appears to go behind the rainbow) and partly appliqued (where it falls in front of the rainbow).  I sometimes think about making this quilt again with brighter colors, more gradual shading, and a blacker background, but I’ll probably never get around to it!


Holiday Whirl
Designed, pieced and machine-quilted by RaNae Merrill
40″ x 48″

This is the first spiral quilt I ever made, long before I ever contemplated writing a book, or even quilting professionally.  I had been doodling around one day while I had nothing to do on a temp job, and figured out the structure of the spiral.  It seemed like it might work in a quilt, so I tried it and, as you can see, it did.  Red bias seam binding is appliqued over the edges of the spokes.


Fruit Salad Spinner
Designed & pieced by RaNae Merrill
Quilted by Gwen Baggett, Clinton, IN
36″ x 36″

This is a baby quilt for my niece Bridget, combining 8-sided point-to-point spirals with a 9-patch block left to me by my grandmother (the one who got me started quilting).


The Court Jester
Designed & pieced by RaNae Merrill
Quilted by Gwen Baggett, Clinton, IN
36″ x 36″
(The pattern for this quilt is in Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts)

This is a companion to Fruit Salad Spinner, made for my niece Michelle who was born within just a couple of months of Bridget. It also uses 8-sided point-to-point spirals and grandma’s 9-patch blocks.


Vestments for St. Bart’s
Designed & pieced by RaNae Merrill

The associate Rector at St. Bart’s Episcopal Church in New York City saw one of my quilts and asked if I would make a set of vestments for him.  This was the result.  The colors and the twisted border design were inspired by some of the stone work in the church.  Coincidentally, the rector was from Jamaica, and the colors also recall his home.  The large spirals in the hem are 5-3/4″ square and have 77 pieces each.  The spirals on the stole and sleeves are 3-1/4″ square and also have 77 pieces each. 


City Tears to Country Smiles
Designed, pieced and hand-quilted by RaNae Merrill
60″ x 60″
The structure of this quilt is a 12-sided point-to-point spiral. The fabric, designed by Yoshiko Jinzenji, was fussy-cut so that the printed lines of the fabric aligned to create the spiral.  The design tells a friend’s story of a life transition.


Exploding Spiral
Designed, pieced and hand-quilted by RaNae Merrill
45″ x 45″
(The pattern for this quilt is in
Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts)


This is another quilt that I made as a sample for the first proposal of Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts.  It’s actually almost exactly the same as Holiday Whirl, except for the dots exploding all over it.


Sails & Waves
Designed & pieced by RaNae Merrill
Quilted by Linda Taylor
84″ x 104″

I made the center medallion of this quilt for the first proposal of Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts.  When the proposal was rejected, I put it away.  When I pulled it out a year or so later, I realized that I had learned a lot since I had started it, and the original design looked boring to me.  So, I redid the design around the center.  When it came time to sew it, however, I ran into two problems: 1) I needed large pieces of fabric for the corner spirals, and the fabric had been discontinued, and 2) I had pre-cut into small pieces for the previous design all the fabric I had.  In the end, I had to piece together a lot of small strips to get large enough pieces to finish!


 Zowie! Powie!
Designed by RaNae Merrill
Pieced by Dottie Lankard, Independence, KS and
Susan Harmon, Cherryvale, KS
Quilted by Joan Gamble, Old Town, FL
48″ x 48″

Zowie! Powie! was inspired by a line of comic book fabric from Timeless Treasures.  It is made with 8-sided point-to-point spirals that change direction in each ring.  The change in direction turns the spoke into a lightning bolt. 



Spiral Quilts by Spiromaniacs I

The original “Spiromaniacs” (and the people who invented the name) were a group of my quilting friends who answered a call for help when I was preparing the second proposal for Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts.  Not only did they make a group of stunning quilts that helped land me a publisher, they also, through their questions and trials-and-errors, taught me more than I ever imagined I could know about spirals.
Thank you!

Photo Op?!
Designed & pieced by Jamie McClenaghan, Fairfield, CA
Quilted by Gwen Baggett, Clinton, IN
48″ x 60″

Jamie lives about 15 minutes from my sister in California, so when I visited for the holidays I had a chance to work in person with Jamie.  Not that she neeed it — she’s a very accomplished quilter in her own right.  When I arrived at her house, she said “If I can do a spiral in any shape, can I do a really big egg-shaped spiral?”  Sure, I replied, and Jamie set about drawing this spiral.  A few days after I got home, Jamie called me in a panic saying “I can’t find the smooth spokes!  Mine are all jaggedy!”  Turns out she had colored the triangles in the “wrong” direction.  And that’s how we discovered feathered spokes.

Pacific International Quilt Festival, October 2008 (Juried show)


We’re Not in Kansas Anymore!
Designed & pieced by Dottie Lankard, Independence, KS
Quilted by Cozetta Campbell, Parsons, KS
50″ x 50″


Dottie is short for Dorothy, and she actually lives in Kansas, hence the Wizard of Oz reference.  She’s an art quilter, and whenever she does something like this, the ladies at her quilt shop and her guild — who are all very traditional quilters — give her a puzzled look and say “It’s lovely, dear, but what are you going to do with it?”  The central point-to-point spiral has 10 sides, and on each side is a 5-sided Nesting spiral to form the rays of the sun.  The “yellow brick road” is a secondary spiral that she discovered.

Juried into the American Quilt Society show in Paducah, Kentucky, Summer 2008
First Prize, Art Quilts Division, Little Balkins Quilt Contest (a large quilt contest in South East Kansas), September 2008.


Winged Water
Designed & pieced by Susan Harmon, Cherryvale, KS
Quilted by Cotie Campbell
42-1/2″ x 51″

Susan is a close friend of Dottie, and Dottie asked if Susan could make a spiral quilt too, so Dottie could have someone to “kibbitz” with.  Susan loves Native American baskets and they were the inspiration for this quilt.  The design is a 16-sided point-to-point spiral.  Which is actually a lot easier than it sounds!

Second Prize, Art Quilts Division, Little Balkins Quilt Contest (a large quilt contest in South East Kansas), September 2008.


Fourth of July
Designed, pieced & quilted by
Anita Mester, Austin, TX
51″ x 21″

Anita loves the Fourth of July, and made this table runner to go with all the other decorations that she puts up in her home for that holiday.  The spirals are 8-sided point-to-points, but she colored only two spokes red so that they connect like ribbons.  Then she colored the outer triangles blue to form rings.

Honorable Mention, Austin Area Quilt Guild Show, September 2008


We’ve Got Sisters!
Designed, pieced & quilted by
Mary Ann Olmstead, Beloit, WI
24″ x 36″

MaryAnn had this to say about her design: It does look complicated, doesn’t it?  Perhaps the new Spiros would appreciate knowing that the entire project is made up of only two foundation pieces: one kite shape that has its color placement just the same in every piece and one triangle with every piece also identical. That information might put things in perspective and make designing a spiral quilt seem potentially less intimidating.


Oriental Fantasy
Designed, pieced, appliqued & quilted by
Katie Fields, Lenore, ID
36″ x 36″

Katie used square Pinwheel spirals placed in mirror-image to each other to made the frame around these appliqued oriental poppies.  Her careful color choices enable the black to blend smoothly into red (a color-to-color gradation).  The contrasting gold on the outer edges emphasizes the fan shape.

Blue Ribbon, Clearwater County (Idaho) Fair, October 2008


Spiral Pansies
Designed, pieced & quilted by
Rhona Triggs, New York, NY
24″ x 30″

Rhona’s quilt demonstrates what happens when you decide to color the rings instead of the spokes of a spiral. She used two different 7-sided irregularly-shaped point-to-point spirals and colored each of them to resemble different colors of pansies. To finish the wall hanging she appliqued them to a sky background and added applique stems and leaves.


Opus Vino
Designed & pieced by
Laurie Nathan, New York, NY
36″ x 36″

Laurie’s design is done with 6-sided Baravelle spirals, from fabric that she dyed herself in gradations.  Since the hexagons join without any space in between them, the spirals interlock.  She felt the purple in the spirals turned out to be too similar to the blue background, but it was a great learning project, and she went on to do Hearts Form From Pieces below.


Hearts Form From Pieces
Designed, pieced and machine quilted by
Laurie Nathan, New York, NY
60″ x 60″

The underlying structure of Laurie’s quilt is a very symmetrical, traditional-looking block made up of squares and diamonds. Laurie placed a square or diamond pinwheel spiral in each “patch” of the block, but placed the colors in a way that obscures the symmetrical structure. Hearts and ribbons dance across the design.  The color gradations (that she dyed herself) make it seem three-dimensional.


12 Responses to ““Inspiralling” Quilts from RaNae & Spiromaniacs I”

  1. Fee Says:

    I love the winged water – it looks like a maelstrom.


  2. Mary Farr Says:

    I loved the ‘4th of July’ and the ‘Take That’. The latter extremely fascinating.

  3. scowlkat Says:

    WOW! ………………….. WOW!!!
    I’m not worthy!

    RM: Yes, Debra you are, and I promise you’ll do something to which someone else will say the same thing!

  4. ksoppelt Says:

    WOW! WOW! WOW! Okay, feeling overwhelmed here, but sure it will get better as it goes…will definitely be stepping outside my comfort zone for this…but that’s a great thing, right?

    RM: Kathy, you’ll be happy to see that it is a LOT easier than it looks! Keep in mind that EVERY quilt on this page (except for mine) is a FIRST EFFORT made by someone who was in your same position — a new Spiromaniac — only three months before they made it!

  5. Mary Ann Says:

    Kathy and all…
    In the spirit of easing anxiety over Spiro projects, maybe you’d like to know how I designed “We’ve Got Sisters!”. (Title comes from a line in the movie “Twister!”)
    Unlike some of the Spiro’s, I had NO IDEA what my finished design would be. I like surprises, as you would gather from knowing I make kaleidoscope quilts.
    I played with drawings of units and sewed a few samples. Colors…I looked for what my LQS had with decent contrast. I played with my first group of sewn units. (Boy, was that fun!) Final design? Just selected what I liked best from playing. Size? Just choose how many units I felt like making, bearing in mind how much fabric I had.
    Once I put it together, I wondered if a border with spiral units might work? Choose triangles, two colors to calm it a bit. Played with my units (so fun again!).
    And that’s my story. The biggest surprise—the way the pink glowed!
    Everyone here really CAN design and make a project that they’ll enjoy doing. And remember, our fearless leader RaNae has said that she really needs all of us, ESPECIALLY if you happen to be less experienced! ; )

    RM: Thanks, MaryAnn. I think it really helps everyone to hear reassurance and encouragement from someone who has recently been through the spiro journey!

  6. yogib2 Says:

    Mary Ann…thanks for all of your encouraging words and tips! You’re quilt is delicious. RaNae is stretching my quilting into a whole new dimension as well, so I am taking comfort in knowing you have experienced what many of us “newbies” are right now.

    RM: Rhonda, according to my yoga tapes (which I don’t use enough) stretching is good! 🙂

  7. mcif Says:

    I feel very small and inept when looking at these unusual and beautiful creations. I hope I will be able to do something unusual.
    RM: Mary, they are so much simpler than they appear, and yours will be just as beautiful! I tried to call you just now — at home and at the shop, but no luck catching you.
    How’s Caroline?
    Have you drawn any spirals to get familiar with them? Had any ideas about what you might like to do? If you’ll give me an idea of where you are, I can help you move forward. Just post something to your blog page and it will come through to my email.

  8. Sherri Starr Says:

    These are wonderful! Especially love Infinite Rainbow (hope it is in the book); Oriental Fantasy, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, and Twist and Shout…just to name a few…all the quilts are wonderful…..hoping to create something wonderful too….put me on the list for the book!


  9. Pam Says:

    Very inspiring, excellent work everyone! I hope mine turns out just as interesting!

  10. Mary Ann in Wisconsin Says:

    Congratulations to RaNae and all the Spiro’s who participated in RaNae’s book Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts. The August/September 2009 issue of Quilters Newsletter features SASQ as it’s lead book review on page 22. My favorite quote from Carol Newby is “One look and you may find yourself wanting to take these patterns out for a spin.”
    Congrats to QN also, celebrating 40 years of outstanding service and inspiration to quilters.

  11. Dawn Bradfield Says:

    A-Mazing! I am inspired by the gorgeousness of these quilts… I have a collection of fabrics pulled from my stash and a pattern ready to go… all I need is the confidence to get started…

    1. RaNae Says:

      Dawn, like the Nike ad…. Just Do It! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s