Holly, 3-12-09:  I was doodling a lot today and not really getting anywhere.  Finally I had to go back to square one and draw more spirals.  That gets it into the longer term memory, ha.  So I’m excited about what I’ve drawn.  It’s a start.  At first it looked like an African mask, now maybe a puppy face.   Anxious to hear your thoughts and suggestions.Holly 1

RaNae:  Holly, you are definitely on the right track.  Now that you can see how the spirals sit in the shapes, can you see how the shorthand works?  Using it will speed up your experimentation.  I’m going to post some more ideas about design this week, so take those and see where you go with them!

Holly 3-18-09: Here’s an update of the first sketch I sent you. It is colored, but I have not filled in the center, or done borders.

Holly 1 doneRaNae: Holly, I’m delighted that you’ve gotten the hang of it so quickly.  Don’t spend any more time on this for now — I’d rather have you explore some more ideas as I lay things out over the next couple of weeks, then settle in on a “permanent” design.


Holly 2
RaNae:  Holly, this is another interesting design.  One of the things I like about it is that the center symmetry is different up/down from how it is side-to-side.  Then the rest of the design is in mirror symmetry, but you haven’t colored it symmetrically. 

One thing to watch for, as I pointed out in Susan Ott’s designs (look at her page), in your design here, often you are splitting the flow forms from one spiral into the next.  This is okay if it’s done on purpose, so that it defines your design, but don’t let it happen by accident and interfere with the flow of the design.

Holly, 3-20-09: You mentioned my coloring for the second sketch did not follow the flow from one shape to the next. On the outer shapes, I was trying to show dimension with darker or lighter colors in the triangle. I don’t think it worked. It’ll be more fun working with fabrics.  Susan O is coming over tomorrow and we are going to play with spirals, and EQ6. I’m going to try different sized wedges and also an off-center design.

Holly, 3-22-09:  This is the ball I sketched out yesterday.  I think I want to put it out in space.  I don’t like it as a Mandala, but it was a good exercise in perspective.  I think it’s right?  Whatever, it was fun.

holly-sketch-61RaNae:  Holly, it looks like you’re “having a ball”!  The ball idea is a good one, even if you do want to work more on a mandala design that you like better.  I’m sure you’ll find what’s coming in the next week or so quite inspiring!

Holly:  Yes I really am having fun. All I want to do is sketch, and can’t wait to sew!

 Holly 3-18-09:  This is my 3rd design using a 5 sided shape. This is so fun. Infinite designs waiting to be created.holly-sketch-3
RaNae: Holly, an interesting assymetrical coloring you’ve chosen here.  Also, since you’ve used only pentagons in the design, difference in the proportions of the pentagon in the center and the pentagons around the outside give it a sense of dimension that suggests a ball.

Holly 3-28-09:   It’s interesting in that you never quite know what you will end up with when drafting these. [On the first row:]The first one is okay, not a favorite.  Maybe it’s the colors I chose.  I think the second one is boring.  (R. Well, I wouldn’t be that harsh, but I do agree you have done more interesting designs.) 
sketch-4-holly-jpeg-400 sketch-7a-holly-jpeg-400sketch-10-holly-jpeg400

[below:] I have read your ‘what if” questions on what to think about when designing these. These two sketches were done after reading that, the others were before. I’m not sure I did anything different. I love the first one – it made me think of a “Starfish Square Dance, Doe-se-doe” (sp?) or a ring of flowers. (R. I think Giny Wagner is already doing something identical.) I really like the second one, and have ideas for coloring that I will send later.


Holly 3-31-09:   Sketches 9 and 10 again, colored.  I like them both, sketch 10 is more fun, The Zebras Went Crazy!!!!!!
Soon I should pick a design and start tweaking that with your suggestions right? Or should I look over your ‘what if’s and try to get wilder? I love drawing these, and get fascinated by the design that turns up when finished. But I’m wondering if mine are maybe just ordinary, nothing real exciting. This whole thing being new to me makes them all exciting to me, but I’m thinking I haven’t made that WOW design yet.


holly-sketch-10-coloredRaNae: What can I say, but WOW!!!  Zebras indeed!  Seeing the b/w sketch above, I never would have expected this coloring.  When I saw it I laughed out loud.  If this one were in the book, love it or hate it you would never forget it!    The one above is quite lovely, too.

Don’t worry, Holly, your designs are definitely not “ordinary”!  🙂

Holly 5-12-09:  Here is a picture of the fabrics I’ve purchased for the Zebra quilt. I hope they are okay with you. I’m also sending a picture of the drafted wedges. It’s going to be 68 inches in diameter, and borders later. Also there is a picture of the first block.

Holly zebra All fabrics Holly Zebra quilt draft Holly Zebra block 1

I’m sewing this on the paper from Kinkos, instead of tracing all of this on some other foundation. They were able to do a mirrored copy of the wedge which was great.  I sewed the twisted log cabin tablerunner on my blog on regular paper. It was a real pain getting the paper off, until I finally decided to spritz it with water. So I hope I’m not sorry. I think I’ll sew one complete wedge, then remove some of the paper from the inside to see how it goes.

RaNae:  Holly, I love the fabrics. There’s still something going on with your points, though, that’s causing many of them to get chopped off. Are you sewing Nesting or Pinwheel spirals? Let’s figure this out and solve it before you sew the next block, okay?  Also, I’m curious as to why you didn’t copy onto the translucent vellum?  It’s easier to work on, and removes easily too.

Holly 5-13-09:  I’m doing pinwheel with sawtooth edges. Is that okay? Doesn’t it look right?

RaNae:  From a technical point of view, yes, you are doing the sawtooth edges correctly.  However, from a design point of view I don’t think it’s adding anything, and in fact may be detracting from your design.  The reason is this: with the variegated black-and-white spokes you’ve already got a busy edge on your spokes.  Adding a sawtooth to this will, I think, make the edge even busier and difficult to follow visually.  I think you design will be much better served by having a strong delineation between the busy “zebra” spokes and the solid spokes, so I would really recommend using smooth edges throughout.

Holly: I have decided to trace the blocks onto this yellow see-through type paper for foundation piecing. It is 24″ across, which is big enough for the large 5-sided shape.  I’m going to start piecing the large shape today.

RaNae: Whatever foundation works is fine, as long as you’re comfortable with it and it’s producing the right results.

Holly 5-24-09:  I’m sending a picture of my progress on the Zebra quilt. There are surprises when making it that you really don’t see on the colored sketch. The center is really neat I think, because the triangles centers with the zebra fabric add to the design.  Anyway, what do you think so far?  I’m just curious to know if you like the color placement of the lights and darks of each of the colors? Is there anything you would have done differently, maybe for dimension reasons, or other reasons? I’m not going to change anything at this point of course, but it would be a learning experience.

Holly W Zebra WIP 2

RaNae:  It looks great!  The only thing that surprises me is that from your drawing I was expecting more pinks, rather than browns and oranges.  But the change in colors doesn’t take anything away from it at all — in fact, it probably makes it somewhat more jungle-like.  I love how the placement of the zebra-print fabric in the centers of the spirals seems to continue the motion of the black-and-white spokes.  All-in-all, you’re doing a great job!

Holly:  I did have issues with the pinwheels losing their points, it was frustrating. So frustrating I considered renaming my quilt “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen….” I redrafted so many times, and now I’m sure they are finally right. I’m thinking it would be helpful to show pinwheel drafting of a long thin triangle. My problem was being able to see where to draw the lines on the longest side of the triangle. I was getting so confused. I always thot I had it correct, then when sewing it didn’t seem right. So on my final drafting, I did use the A1, A2, A3 etc. and that must have helped? I was trying to mark a 1 where the line started and a 1 where it was to end up. With the skinny end there is no room. So either the A1 stuff helped, or somehow I got lucky, ha. I was wondering if drawing every other line a different color would help, maybe red, then black, then red. etc. Anyway, it must be right now, as I haven’t had any more problems.

RaNae: This design could have been done more easily and just as effectively using Nesting spirals instead of Pinwheels.  I realize that you originally chose Pinwheels so you could do the sawtooth edges, but when you eliminated those I thought you would go to Nesting spirals.  Had I know before you started sewing I would have recommended switching.

Holly: There seems to be a lot on the blog about foundations. I’m using the Golden Threads Quilting paper. It has been able to handle lots of abuse. Pencils and erasers, sewing, unsewing, sewing, the torture of a hot iron, folding and unfolding many times. It is 24″ x 20 yds. I drew my final master template, and am tracing each shape. Of course it doesn’t work in the printer.

I only have 4 shapes within each wedge, so only 32 shapes/blocks to sew.

Also, I think it was Ruth S that mentioned the concentration that this takes. That is so true. I usually don’t have the TV or radio on. I HAVE had the radio on, and have sewed in the wrong direction, I’ve trimmed off more then the extra seam allowance, and whatever else you can do wrong I’ve probably done it. But I’ve got that out of my system now.

RaNae:  Holly, thanks for the photo, suggestions, comments and progress report!  Don’t feel bad about the mistakes — I’ve done them all myself!

Holly 6-8-09:  I’ve finished sewing my wedges for the Zebra quilt.

Holly zebras done[Click image for a larger view] I’m going to design my border before sewing them together. Any suggestions for a border? I’m thinking some black all around the edges, and some sort of small design in the corners with purple, and either the zebra fabric that’s in the centers, or a real zebra, fussy cut.

RaNae:  Holly, it’s great to see this coming to life.  As for borders, it sounds like you have some great ideas already.  I’m sure you’ll come up with something creative…I like the idea of fussy-cut zebras.  Anyone else have suggestions?


20 Responses to “Designing The Zebras Went Crazy

  1. Holly W Says:

    Hi everyone, My name is Holly Watson, and this is my first time around in RaNae’s Spiral workshop. I updated my profile and thought it would be on the comments page. I’ve also been around computers, was a programmer on a big mainframe many years ago,but this blog is a new thing for me. I guess I spend too much time in my sewing room. No, I don’t think that’s possible.
    My husband and I are snowbirds from Oakdale, MN. We live in North Port, FL in the winter. We will be returning to MN the end of April, and I sure hope it warms up.
    I’ve been quilting since 1991. My husband created a blog for my quilts. http://redbanana.typepad.com/quilts/ These are a few of my most recent quilts.
    I have enjoyed reading your comments. It will be fun working with all of you, getting to know you and seeing all of your creative ideas. I’m very excited and happy to be involved in this project.

  2. Micki W in North Carolina Says:

    Hi Holly, welcome to the Spiros! Your quilts are so colorful and vibrant – simply stunning and completely original! You bring tremendous artistic creativity to the group and I hope you enjoy the journey with all of us.

  3. Micki W in North Carolina Says:

    Glitz is good, Holly. When I made my “Enjoy the Journey” wallhanging for RaNae’s first book, I added little crystal triangles as shards flying off the different spiral blocks into the “unknown” and it really added some glam to the piece. There’s always room for glitz!

    • Holly W Says:

      Hi Micki, I was paging through my Creative Home Arts magazine the other day. I saw a tablerunner with spirals on it and thot someone out there knows how to make these. Then I saw your name, with an Honorable mention, and that it is in RaNae’s first book. Congratulations. I also really love your braid quilt. I’m into bright colors.

  4. Mary Ann in Wisconsin Says:

    Holly, I love your ball! The perspective is wonderful—I want to just grab it out of cyberspace and bounce it all around!! 😉

  5. devi7 Says:

    The zebra design is dynamic and moves – great ideas

  6. purplepassion Says:

    Hi Holly, I love, love, love the zebra’s gone crazy!
    Black/white is the very best ‘high contrast’ there is and I’m hoping to have a bit of that in a design I
    come up with. I’ve also been considering an oval shape, as my quilt in the first book was an oval one.
    Still drawing over here . . . Jamie

  7. Dottie Lankard Says:

    Holly, finally found a computer with satellite so I could see your zebras (I have slow dialup and the page kept timing out before it could download) All I can say is AWESOME. Too cool Dottie

  8. Holly W Says:

    Hi Zebra lovers, I’m glad you like this design. It was a very lucky accident. I’ve colored so many designs, they all started looking alike. So thus the black and white and zebras.

    I’ve started sewing my oval 3 design. It’s been a slow process. Altho I’m a little speedier than day 1.

    I’m excited about going to NY to see RaNae and the other spiros. Also my DH and I haven’t been there together before, so it should be fun exploring also.
    Then it’s back to MN, snuggling into my sewing room there to finish the oval and start those zebras.
    It’s great fun.

    I haven’t checked out your designs lately, will have to get into your wips.

  9. Holly W Says:

    Hello Spiros, I’m almost done sewing my oval design. What I’ve learned is
    1. Spiro quilts will never be in Quick Quilt Magazine
    2. Pinwheels are easier on larger blocks.
    3. I really respect any quilter who does miniatures, and Crystal Marie who made the Sustenance quilt for RaNae’s first book. Awesome. I don’t do minis. The blocks/shapes in my oval are small for me.
    4. Seamrippers are a good friend.
    5. Mini irons are great.
    Too tired to know if I learned anything else. But I like the design so far, and am crossing my fingers that goes together as planned.
    Happy designing and sewing. Can’t wait to see everyone’s designs and progress.

  10. RaNae Says:

    Good observations Holly! I laughed when you said that Spiral quilts will never be in Quick Quilts magazine — given that you’re the first one done with a mandala, I’m wondering just how quickly you make up a QUICK quilt! 🙂

    On your next quilt, use Nesting blocks — quicker than Pinwheels. As if you needed to increase your speed…

  11. Holly W Says:

    RaNae, I did use pinwheels on the lime green and teal triangles on the sides. I ended up appliqueing the first partial seam to finish it. The next seams were bigger. If I sewed closer to the other side, it was easier to straigten out and finish sewing by machine.

  12. Jody B Says:

    Hi Holly,
    Just wanted to say how much fun I had with you in NYC. You are doing amazing work. And yes, I do love the zebras also! but I think maybe your Mandala should be called Holly Gone Wild! Can’t wait to see the photos of your piecing.
    Piece-fully, Jody b.

  13. Mary Ann in Wisconsin Says:

    Holly, your work is terrific!
    Thanks for the info on Golden Threads…I’ve used that for quilting and really liked it. It just might fit the bill for me this go-round. Excepting the ‘path’ wedge that I have, I have just eight wedges, 4 plus 4 as far as spiral block layout and coloration go (probably). The difficulty is that each of the four nearly identical blocks has a slightly different width. That’s the only change. I’m thinking I may draft it all by hand and Golden Threads might fix the bill nicely for tracing my individual spiral boxes from a master. Otherwise, I’ll use Simple Foundations from C & T Publishing that I’ve enjoyed working with before. It seems to me that GT comes an another width also—I’m not sure if that’s narrower or wider. I’ll see if I can hunt that info down.
    I really like how you handled your centers. It fits with your zebra theme so nicely. I had forgotten how much ‘room’ the centers take up. I’ve been doing a bit of drafting and this point has come home to me big time!
    I have found in the past that I needed to organize my spiral block segments as you are suggesting to keep them straight, A1, etc. I do use a lot of very narrow segments—the reds in the last spiral project I made were only 1/4 inch in height. I do love those miniatures ;). Anyway, I make a point of using a letter (or letters) that represents the color such as a B or Br or Bl. Your zebra section could, for instance, be labeled all Z with a notation just past the outer edge that even numbers are white and odd are black if that is the case. When the segments are tiny, I list the color prominently on that outer edge also.
    HEY, does anyone else think that Holly’s ball is just begging to bounce it’s way into RaNae’s book? 🙂

    • RaNae Says:

      Mary Ann & Holly, I like the translucent vellum that I carry in my store even better than C&T’s stuff — it’s lighter, comes out easier, and costs less. R.

  14. Mary C in NY Says:


    If you stabilize Golden Threads with freezer paper or 404 spray to copy paper, you can put it through your printer. I have printed this way on many different stabilizers, fabrics – cottons, silks, organdy, interfacing – just about anything you can think of.

    Try it out.

    Mary NY

  15. Holly W Says:

    Mary Ann and Mary,
    thanks for the info Mary for printing on Golden Threads. I could have used that for my triangles. My 4 sided shape was too large.
    Mary Ann, what foundation have you decided to use? Your design is very creative and unique. How’s it coming? Mary of NY, I’ll have to check out your WIP. I don’t know how RaNae keeps track of everybody and what they’re doing, and all the comments.
    I’ve finished all of the wedges on the Zebra quilt. I need to design a border for it before sewing the wedges together. I really like the way this quilt has turned out. I also wish I had used pinks instead of the orange and yellow, but couldn’t find them at Zook’s in Intercourse, PA. And the price was right there, so went with what I could find.
    Have fun everyone, sewing your mandala designs. Can’t wait to see them.

  16. scowlkat Says:

    WOW! What more can be said except maybe spectacular! Way to go!

  17. Dottie Lankard Says:

    Lu……..v it! Very striking!

  18. devi7 Says:

    WOW – I love it!

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