Nautilus shell quilt by Tenar


Top Assembled


Aka the "I went officially insane" quilt.  You know how they say not to bother sewing a curved seam shorter than an inch?  Some of those pieces inside the shell are 1/2" x 1/4" and they're curved.  I have a thing about spirals, and I have a thing about turquoise, and this is the result. Weirdly, the hardest part wasn't the centre, that was more of an interesting challenge.  The hardest part was that strip of fairly small triangles in darkish blue in the top left.  The fabric had a looser weave (most of the rest were batiks, this was a Fossil Fern) and it stretched on the bias.

It's 22" x 25" total, made using the Ruth McDowell freezer paper method, and the shell is shamelessly stolen from one I found on Google Image as I can't draw for toffee.  One day I'll work out how to quilt it.  I think I may need to learn how to use a sewing machine first, I don't think it's very well-suited to hand quilting.


Completed top
Auditioning fabrics for the shell centre
Sewing the centre spiral together
Back of the shell centre
Auditioning fabrics for the sea and beach
Possible quilting pattern





Wow these are great textures. I am so glad you shared the back in progress!


Thank you! It felt a bit like a historic moment by the time I'd finished piecing the shell centre. That's a 1" grid on my cutting mat, for scale.

I've just discovered that if you go to the "view full size" lightbox and then right-click on an image and select "view image", you can open the original file and zoom in on it. Handy if you want to see anything in more detail.


This is great! I'm not really a fan of batiks, but they worked well for this design. I really enjoy how some of the HSTs are breaching the boundaries of the border and the shell.


I love the Nautilus-beautiful colors!


I just love this it is a work of art!


Now that must have been very fiddly - ohh and never let anyone tell you things are not possible. All the people tell you 1" is small, but I'm used to thinking in 1cm units which is 0,4 inch - so I really have probelms getting all the hysteria if somenoe ventures and makes 1/2" hexagons - they are still pretty normal sized to me.So anyway - jsut because someoen says "wont work" doesn't mean they are right.
I really like the nautilus (I think I forgto to mention that till now)


Actually, when Ruth McDowell said 'don't bother to make a curved piece shorter than 1",' she meant that it wasn't worth the faff because a straight line would work fine. So of course I had to prove her wrong. If anyone wants to make up a shell the same size and use straight lines for the centre, I'd be curious to see the result.

I do think it's easier because I hand-sew, though. My main tip for this sort of thing, apart from deadly accuracy, is to use batiks and other fabrics with a dense weave, in order to minimise fraying and stretching. It probably helps that I use short, fine pins, and a travel-sized iron rather than a full iron.

I wouldn't mind sewing a small amount of that sort of piecing again, but I wouldn't want to make a whole quilt in it.

This was actually my second attempt at tiny curved piecing. If you go to my Craftsy page at and go to the little needle case in pink and green with a Rennie Mackintosh-esque rose on it, that was the first.

You can download the project as JSON data.Download JSON