Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hip 2 be Square/ Chic to be Geek: EZ Patchwork Pixel Numbers

Back in 1985- it was Hip to Be Square....
Now in 2011, it's Chic to be Geek!

Gettin' your geek on is accepted these days and lately I've noticed the geek cross over into the crafting community.  A natural union of 2 passions- it's been exciting to watch people pay tribute to their favorite video game characters in quilt, cross-stitch, beadwork, and knit forms!  
A quick search on flickr for "Mario Quilts" lead me to this selection:
Pixel Perfect!
The pixel infiltrates the world!!  This short film couldn't have put it better:

This transition of pixel designs hopping from computer screen to fabric/ yarn/ or beads could be one of the easiest ways for a newbie crafter to approach a craft.  Whether you're a computer programmer/ video game designer using pixels to build the landscapes & characters used in the games you're creating....or you're a crafter using fabric blocks, x- stitches, beads, etc to build your designs...you are essentially working with squares and grids to create the patterns & designs.

Years ago, after garnering some inspiration from knit scarves with cheeky sayings & simple designs (hearts, stars, skulls, apples, etc)- I tried applying the same principle to my beading:
Groove is in the ???:  I gave up getting into the groove with all these rows of beads
Back in high school, my friend Mere nicknamed me "Bead Weaver" - a play on Gary Wright's song "Dreamweaver".  We were bead geeks and would get together to trade our beads and make necklaces/bracelets/ etc.  I was super bead-geeky with my bead loom, a gift from my crafty aunt, for my 14th birthday.  I kept my bead loom for a number of years and attempted to make my homage to Deee-Lite's "Groove is in the Heart" on the bead loom.  As you can see, it never made it to the "heart". ;)

From beading, I have started to dabble in quilting.  Plotting quilt patterns is almost similar to plotting bead loom patterns- working on a grid format with "squares" or pixels.
Here's my simple technique for crafting pixelated numbers.

First, I like to use graph paper and markers to plot out my designs.  Below are my number patterns.  I tried to keep these simple, yet not completely basic.  Keep in mind- the more squares you use in your patterns, the more cutting and sewing you will be doing to create your design.
Smokey Robinson once said:  "1-2-3, now that's how elementary.....it's gonna be!"
After I've plotted my designs on graph paper, I do a little math to determine how many squares I need to cut for the dark and light squares used in the number patchwork designs.  After I've calculated how much fabric I'll need, I go to cut the squares.  I used 3" squares in this example:
I go to pieces!!!
After I've cut my squares, I determine the full size of the number piece.  I'm going to create a number '8' design with 3" squares.  I determine that the size will be 7 squares (21") across by 9 squares (27") down.  Now this is what makes life ez:  fusible quilters grid interfacing!  It's fusible on 1 side, with 1" square grid lines to act as a guide for you to piece your pattern.  I cut a piece of the interfacing based on the size of my full pattern:  21" x 27":
thank gridness
Now I start to lay down my squares according to my graphed design.  Make sure you lay the wrong side of the fabric squares on top of the fusible (bumpy side) of the interfacing.  Use the grids as your guideline:
pass the piece
After I have my fabric squares laid out, I press them down.  Make sure you follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to fuse the fabric to the interfacing.  Do not use the steam setting on the iron or the fabric won't fuse:
After the squares are pressed on to the interfacing, you want to fold one row of squares over, right side of fabric touching each other.  Sew on the interfacing side with 1/4" seam allowance:
Continue this process, sewing row after row.  Just make sure you aren't sewing each row together....I can tell you by experience, I did this once.  Just so you know....the reason you're sewing these rows together is because you want to make the raw edges disappear.  Your design will shrink as you sew.  So, make sure that when you do your math in the beginning, you will want to calculate what the finished size will be according to the 1/4" seam allowances that you use.
After you've sewn all the vertical rows together, press the seam allowances down to one side and rotate your piece, repeating this process on the horizontal rows that need to be sewn together:
Note the sewn seams from the vertical rows.  You want to make sure the seam allowances are facing down towards you as you sew the horizontal seams.
Upon stitching all of the horizontal rows together, the back side of your piece should look like this:
Press the allowances down.  Flip over to the right side and press again.  Your pieced pixelated number is now finished!
crazy 8

I played a little bit with some other fabrics/ color combos and square sizes, making a 4 & 5....a few of my lucky numbers:

What's your lucky number?


  1. AWESOME!!! this will help immensely!!!!


  2. YAYYYY!!!! Happy to help ya out, lady! Have fun sewing!

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