Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fractal quilt

Okay, so my husband and I were chilling out one evening after the kids were in bed. Time alone? No kids around? What's a couple to do?

Yeah, so we were watching a NOVA special on PBS about fractal geometry. No, seriously. We're weird like that.

Gary is kind of a math and science geek. Degrees in math, chemistry, the whole nine yards. Me? I took as little math as possible in school and although I got good at it, I used my proficiency to avoid math at the college level. You needed to get 60 points on one of the placement exams to pass out of taking any required math courses at my university, so I used every brain cell I had to score 61 points. But I digress....

So we're sitting there watching all these images of fractals and I'm thinking, "These would make totally cool quilts!" But I don't say anything out loud because I'm sure that my math geek husband will roll his eyes at me.

Then you know what he says to me? "Hey, these kind of look like quilts."


And there we were: the math geek and the quilt geek. A marriage made in heaven.

But out of all that came this:

For those of you who don't know what a fractal is (and I sure didn't until I watched the NOVA special), it's a geometric shape that can be split into smaller parts, and each of those parts is a reduced size copy of the whole.

Here's an example of a square within a square fractal that was the inspiration for this quilt:

You start out with one square-in-square (SIS), which is in turn made up of smaller SIS. Then those smaller SIS are made up of even smaller SIS. I had to stop there because I thought I might go insane piecing it any smaller. Now though, I kinda wish I had done it. Oh well....

Anyway, Gary picked out the colors and I got busy cutting and sewing. This was actually a pretty easy quilt to put together because I was able to chain piece everything.

Deciding how to quilt it took me awhile. I knew I wanted straight line quilting along the outside borders but I wasn't sure about what to do over the actual fractal image. I found a great fractal pattern but knew that it would be impossible for me to try to duplicate in on the quilt top. Finally, I settled on this simple diagonal line version. I like that it doesn't overwhelm the fractal design.

And the straight lines in the center of the quilt? Yeah, total PITA at the start because you have to turn the quilt so much, but it does look pretty cool now that it's done.

And the back:

Had to add that one orange square in there to complement the orange binding. I really like how the back turned out and I think the quilt will look fine however it lands on the sofa.

Here's a detail of the corners where the straight lines all intersect. It's one of my favorite parts about this quilt.

It's now washed and crinkled up and ready to be given to Gary for Christmas. YES! I finished a Christmas gift before Thanksgiving. High five!


  1. Love this quilt. I'm an old math geek!

  2. I love it!! I hope we get to see it at guild next month I love the quilting.

  3. Stunning, love the line intersection at the corners and the orange binding, it looks very cool!

  4. It's wonderful, I love the intersecting quilting lines too. Very nice quilt Megan!!

  5. woo hoo! i love the story of this quilt and, of course, the mathiness. :o)

  6. I've been planning on making this same pattern for a while. It is called a sierspinski carpet. (though I probably spelled the name wrong) the sierspinski triangle is more famous, but I don't want a triangle quilt.

    Yours is lovely!

  7. My husband and I saw that same show. I wasnt brave enough to do the math for a quilt, yours is beautiful.

  8. I love fractals! And this looks great (and much easier than a Mandelbrot set :) ) Geek on!

  9. Oh I am so happy I came across this! I am a math teachers daughter and a quilt geek too. These are perfect and I love them!

  10. I am a fractal geek. Used Ultra Fractal for years to make a lot of pictures. I always wanted to figure out how to make quilts out of several of them. This is interesting!

  11. This was so helpful when I made Fractal Shadows for my engineering nephew.


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