Sunday, July 3, 2016

Octopus Obsession: A Quilted Book Review

A few weeks ago, I picked up the new book, The Soul of An Octopus; A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness, by Sy Montgomery,  and could not put it down.
The book describes the passionate, quirky, and eternal love that can exist between mollusk and human. Along with spiritual affection, there's plenty of patting. stroking, and, well, G-rated gentle sucking (resulting in hickeys). The book amply proves that octopuses are more affectionate, mischievous, wise and slippery than dogs, cats, owls, or certain presidential candidates.

Instead of describing the book further, here's my first quilted book review.
And here's my second, which we will discuss in detail at a later date....
Both of these pieces are covered with tulle, which gives them a watery atmosphere and fascinating texture (like octopuses, they're fun to stroke).
Want to make your own quilted book review from old jeans? Here are my steps.

First I cut a light-blue denim pants leg for the background, to approximately 14" x 11".  Next, I folded and freehand cut an anatomically incorrect octopus, seaweed, and a pair of question marks....
It's fun to cut components from interesting jeans pieces....
I used white school glue, my new BFF, (here's why) to temporarily hold the fabric elements in place. School glue is perfect for denim, because it strengthens the soft weave, reducing fraying. After the glue dried, I zig-zagged around each with invisible monofilament thread. 

Then I realized that it needed more stuff.  So I added a fish, a crab, and a jellyfish...and a whole lot of shells. I took apart a cheapo shell necklace, and used the holes in the top back to dangle them vertically in the bottom row...
...But on the top row, I wanted the smooth backs to show, and there would be no way to do that with the existing holes. so I glued them in position, using a permanent glue (Crafter's Pick The Ultimate Glue). That means this quilt is definitely not washable, and must be handled carefully.
For the larger shell in the lower right corner, pat pat pat! (That's not an octopus patting me - it's the sound of me patting myself on the back because I LOVE the way this brown-and-white-striped shell looks against the blue denim):
It didn't have a hole. So I used permanent glue to affix it to a vintage fabric-covered shank button. (Fabric should hold the glue better than a shiny surface.) Then I hand-stitched the button in position.
The octopus' eyes are jeans rivets, glued down after stitching on all the components - otherwise, the rivets might have interfered with my sewing machine foot.
And speaking of buttons, I stitched mother-of-pearl shank buttons in graduated sizes to the seaweed.
I cut a piece of felt slightly larger than the hanging size, pinned it to the back, and quilted around each appliqué. I then stitched around the edges of the wall hanging, cut away the felt that showed from the back, and did a corded zig-zag around the edge, bringing the felt and denim together.  Finally, I hand stitched loops cut from jeans seams.  
Want to make your own octopus wallhanging? Get a head start with my incredibly inexpensive 12-page booklet, here. It offers 35 + ocean creature drawings, suitable for applique, and it's only $3.00 Read more about it here
Or, if you want something from the complex end of the spectrum, consider printing out this public domain octupus image from Wikipedia, found at 
(It's upside down on purpose. Octopuses do this. Read the Sy Montgomery book. You'll love it!)
Octopus Part 2: My blog post on making a quilted aquarium vase.
Octopus Part 3: An even more elaborate and fun octopus quilt, here.


  1. I've never heard of the book. However, I am impressed with how it inspired you. Thanks for sharing your creativity.

    1. Thank you, Ann.This book is great and it made me think deeply about octopuses! No financial affiliation, it's perfect summer reading!

  2. Cathy, you never fail to deliver!!! The creativity, the depth, the humor, and the how-to tips -- all there. (I especially like the shanked cloth button under the shell tip!).

    1. Sherry, thanks so much for your nice comment. I was rather proud of the cloth button, which I figured would hold the glue and the shell better than a shiny-surfaced shank button! I'm so glad you liked that detail!

  3. I too am slapping my hand to my forehead saying" why didn't I think of that! Regarding the button holding the glue for the shell idea. I've tried drilling holes in shells to attach to quilts and they break and if they don't, the thread shows. I am definately going to try this on my next beach quilt. Thank you

    1. Beach quilts are good! A good way to use up old shell necklaces! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Cathy, You continue to amaze me with your creativity and generosity with sharing your techniques.

    1. Thank you Cheryl! Speaking of creative, even as we speak, I'm making a Curvalicious quilt, as a commission - having so much fun with it!

  5. Oh now i want the book..........I wonder if it is on audiobook........

    1. You will enjoy it, guaranteed! Thanks for stopping by again, QuiltSwissy!


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