Monday, January 26, 2015

Audrey - finished at last!!

This has been by far my biggest and most ambitious quilting project ever!

I started with this pixelated image:

Using YouPatch, I generated a pattern with just over 2000 pieces and, over the course of about 50 hours, I made the quilt top.

Here she is half-finished at the Melbourne Stitches & Craft Show last year
The next challenging issue was the quilting. I knew that I had neither the time (before QuiltCon) or the capacity to quilt this quilt. I ended up deciding to use professional quilting services. I was unable to find anyone who would be willing to treat this project as an art quilt and to quilt in and around the facial features and structural contours. So I decided to keep it simple and asked for vertical lines, unevenly spaced.

Here's what I got back .... exactly what I asked for:

It just wasn't right. She looked too ... well .... lined! I knew I had to unpick the quilting and go back for another quilting design.

In order to reduce the risk of getting another quilting design that looked wrong, my clever husband whipped up some preview options:

I decided to go with the Baptist Fans design (bottom right). It felt softer and was more likely to NOT emphasise my somewhat imperfect piecing skills.

Here's the preview:

And here's what I got:

SO much better!!!

The next big decision to make was the binding fabric. Back to Dan and his awesome preview skills:

I went with the red option to bring out the red in her lips.

And now she is finally finished!!! 

There was only one real choice in terms of where to photograph her. ....

Such a relief to finish this one. I'm so happy with the end result and can't wait to show her off in Austin next month.

Have you ever had to unpick your quilting?
Would you love to be able to preview a quilting design or binding choice?

I'd love to know!!

Happy stitching to you.
Andi xx

Thursday, January 22, 2015


So as you may have seen in our recent post, we are introducing HSTs into the YouPatch quilt design suite! Here is the first pixel quilt I've made that incorporates triangles:

The original image was a pic I took about a year ago of my daughter Ella blowing bubbles.

Rather than go with my usual bright solid fabrics, I wanted to incorporate a palette that was a little different so I asked my dear friend Louise (who usually goes for a softer palette than I do) to select the fabrics for me. Not only did she select something gorgeous and a little different, she went with textured fabrics.... all purchased from Amitie.

From L-R: Robert Kaufman dot in pink, Quartet Collection by Faye Burgos for Marcus Fabrics, Zenith by P&B Textiles, Robert Kaufman quilters linen in silver, Robert Kaufman quilters linen in platinum.

The piecing was certainly more fiddly with the smallest HSTs measuring 1 inch (sewn). But it was so worthwhile. I am really happy with the end result.

Machine quilted by the lovely Kylie Cannon (who can be contacted via Amitie) with some added pink hand-quilting (by ME!) on the blown bubbles.

And just because I had fun photographing this quilt, here's another shot in a different location:

We haven't yet incorporated the HST option into the YouPatch website but if you are busting to do a HST pixel quilt, get in touch and we'll see what we can do!

Happy stitching to you all!!

Andi xx

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Introducing ... TRIANGLES!!!

YouPatch has, until now, provided pixel quilt patterns using only squares and rectangles as component pieces. We have recently been dabbling with the idea of adding half-square-triangles (HST's) to improve the capacity for creating smoother curved and diagonal lines.

My clever husband Dan Prager (the brain power behind this idea) has written about it in his blog post and we have re-published it here ...

Adding triangles to YouPatch

The Racket Logo

Following my talk at RacketCon 2014 a few participants expressed interest in getting a quilt based on the Racket programming language logo (right).

Since I used Racket extensively both in inventing and developing YouPatch ( I thought it would be a nice gesture to make a free quilt design available to members of the Racket community.

However, just running the Racket logo through the YouPatch process (as it stood) made for an unsatisfactory result on two fronts:

  1. The curves of the original design are excessively pixelatedat a low resolution (right).
  2. Original design: 230 pieces
  3. YouPatch's aggregation algorithm combines neighboring squares of the same color into larger pieces to reduce the amount of cutting and sewing— a key feature. Unfortunately it did badly in a few cases (especially so on simple logos like this) because it was based on the somewhat simplistic idea of chopping each block repeatedly into quarters. By looking at the original design you can probably see several places where neighboring pieces should have been combined.
So I improved the aggregating algorithm, achieving typically a reduction of 20% in the total number of pieces. [There's a trade-off here against the number of distinct shapes involved. I could get 30%, but we decided to restrict shape dimensions to reduce confusion during construction.]

Improved aggregation: 191 pieces

And I added an option to take a pixelated design and automatically and selectively add half-square triangles to reduce the "stair-casing" effect.

With half-square triangles: 279 pieces

Without the schematics, here's the triangle design in all it's glory:

The Racket Logo as a pixel quilt design with triangles
Racketeers, if you'd like this design free-of-charge, let me know and I'll generate and send you the pdf with all the instructions. You'll still need to buy the fabric and find a friendly quilter. [Try your local modern quilt guild if you don't know one.] 

Let me know what size you'd like: 
  1. Small wall hanging: 32" x 32"
  2. Medium wall hanging: 48" x 48"
  3. Double bed or lap quilt for the couch: 64" x 64"
  4. Queen bed: 80" x 80"
Now, in case you prefer another programming language to Racket, here's a sample of what happens to the logos of some other awesome languages that also have a liking for the greek letter lambda (╬╗):

Top-to-bottom:   1. original image    2. YouPatch squares   3. YouPatch triangles
At the time of writing the triangle-generating technology has not been built into YouPatch's self-serve features, nor have we finalized pricing.

I think you can see that this facility makes a big difference to logo-style pixelation (simple design, few colors, low-ish resolution), and of course it can be used for non-programming language logos! ;-)

It also can produce interesting arty effects on photographs. Here's the first pixel quilt featuring half-square triangles that we've actually made, featuring my daughter blowing bubbles:

1. Original image  2. YouPatch schematic  3. Actual quilt

The Racket logo is available for free, and we'll be making a triangle option available in 2015 as part of YouPatch, but the technology exists to do it now, so get in touch if you're keen!The Racket logo is available for free, and we'll be making a triangle option available in 2015 as part of YouPatch, but the technology exists to do it now, so get in touch if you're keen!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Reflecting on a crafty year

2014 was a super busy crafty year with the launch of YouPatch in February.

Loads of pixel projects and quilts for friends and family.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make YouPatch a wonderful experience and to everyone who made my 2014 interesting, fabulous, challenging and creative.

Happy new year!! I hope it's s stitchy one!

Andi xxx

PS The song in the video is called "Ho Hey" performed by the very talented Indi Eisner. You can listen to it here!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Doing good things

When Dan and I had kids, we dreamed about our children being peace-makers, do-gooders, kind, caring people who make a difference in the world.

In day-to-day life, this doesn't always feel like a reality. Sibling squabbles and childish selfishness can get in the way of ideals and dreams.

So, we endeavour to do good things with the kids, in very overt ways, so they can see how good it feels to do good for others.

Our kids get a generous weekly allowance but they don't get to spend it all. Some they have to put aside for savings and some they put aside for charity or (as it is known in this house) Tzedakah. In past years, we have taken the saved up Tzedakah and the children have chosen a large toy to place under the charity Christmas tree at our local department store. Their gifts have gone to children their own age who otherwise might not have received a gift at Christmas time.

This year, we did things a little differently. Jake expressed a desire to do something for the homeless and to be able to give a gift in person, rather than leave an anonymous gift. He wanted to make a personal connection.

So, inspired projects like this one,  we took the children's Tzedakah money (and some of ours also) and we bought five backpacks and went shopping for useful and nice things to put inside.

Each pack had some non-perishable food items, some toiletries, some practical items like pen, paper, drink bottle, etc and a MYKI card with $10 credit for using our local public transport system.

Today was the day to hand them out.

Here we are with our backpacks on, ready to go and give them away.

We headed in to the city on the train and walked until we met someone who looked like they might need a little kindness. We introduced ourselves and gave them each a backpack and wished them a happy holiday. All backpacks were received with grace, dignity and good humour.

And this is how we all felt afterwards! 

I hope you all have a peaceful and loving holiday season.
Love Andi xx

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Yee-haw! A Texas quilt

Well, if we are going to take an Aussie quilt to QuiltCon, we'd better have a Texas one too! ;-)
This succulent was the closest thing I could get to a cactus at short notice ... lol
This is the first pixel quilt I've made that has the added element of applique. It's not easy to create a 5-pointed star using squares and rectangles! :P

CALTEX is at least part Texan isn't it? ;-)
I'm discovering that these map style pixel quilts are fairly quick and easy to make. The two that I've made so far will be cute companion pieces for our QuiltCon booth.

So excited! February is just around the corner!!!

Andi xx