East Dakota Quilter


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Pixelation Paradise (a.k.a. the Pixelated Panda)

I used an amazing program to plan this quilt, but let’s start with the background story.

Some friends of ours are about to have a baby girl. The mom-to-be loves pandas and watched baby Bao Bao on the National Zoo’s Giant Panda Cam almost every day when it first came out. The dad loves computers. To marry the two interests, I thought a pixelated panda quilt would be perfect!

Pixelated Panda by East Dakota Quilter

I didn’t want to make the quilt too girlie, so pink on the front side of the quilt is relegated to binding.

On the back? More pink… and a lot more pandas!

Back Side of Pixelated Panda by East Dakota Quilter

For once, I even remembered to include care instructions and a gift tag (back side, not pictured). I kind of hate making labels and I’m not really sure why.

Gift Tag by East Dakota Quilter

I pretty well destroyed our apartment while I was working on this one. There were various-sized pieces that covered our kitchen table. Each time I finished a block, I washi taped it to the wall. I had little sections ALL OVER the apartment.

Messy Workspace by East Dakota Quilter

I think the finished quilt was worth the mess!

While I still hate chain piecing, the program I used made it as painless as possible. Does anyone here remember the tutorial I wrote about how to turn a photo into a pixelated quilt? I really enjoyed the manual process and it’s FREE… but you guys, I don’t think I’d ever do it again. The year after I published my tutorial, a husband and wife team developed a website called YouPatch that does the pixelation for you. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I’ve seen other bloggers write about it, but after trying it for myself, I wanted to tell the whole world how amazing it is! They’re not paying me to write this. Their website is just AWESOME.

For a reasonable price (less than $10 for the quilt I made), here’s the process:

1. Upload the photo you want to turn into a quilt. I used a photo of a panda, removing the background. Eliminating the background makes the main subject of the photo really stand out. I was also pleased that YouPatch did a great job with my poor quality photo!

Pixelated Comparison by East Dakota Quilter

Once the photo is uploaded into YouPatch, you decide whether you want the orientation of your quilt to be portrait, landscape, or square. I picked portrait.

2. Pick how many fabric colors you want to use. I chose 8 for my quilt. The current maximum number is 15. The higher the number, the more detail in your quilt… and also the more work you have to do. You get to preview the difference for each option, which is insanely cool. I would have been happy with fewer options, but I really liked the control this gave me.

YouPatch Step 2 - Size and Detail

3. Pick a finished quilt size. Why? you might ask. Can’t I just use the grid of pieces the software generates to do my own sizing? Well, yes. But a few things: (a) you’re crazy if you want to do quilty maths that the program would do for you; and (b) based on the size you select, the program will tell you how much fabric to buy!

4. Change out colors if you want. My quilt was grayscale. You could do crazy-different colors (a pop of lime on plum), or you could do a quilt using the same concept as grayscale (light to dark) using a specific color like blue. (I bought my Kona solids on fabric.com. They were out of Kona Silver, so I substituted Kona Shadow.)

YouPatch Step 3 - Selecting Fabrics & Colors

You also have the option to manually change a pixel, which is cool. If I hadn’t deleted the background on my photo before uploading it, I would have used this feature to manually remove any distracting details.

YouPatch Step 3b - Option to make manual changes

Then you just pay for the pattern (less than $10 for me), and they email it in pdf format. Mine was very detailed, with 17 pages of instructions, illustrations, and ideas. I didn’t need all the provided info, but it was nice to gauge whether I was on the right track at times.

I wondered was whether each pixel would be an individual, standard-sized square or whether YouPatch would group side-by-side pixels of the same color. Probably I could have researched this in advance, but I didn’t. They do #2 (grouping). I love this. The pattern tells you what size blocks to cut. Due to grouping, not all pieces are the same size. I received another email when I was about halfway through sewing this quilt that said the grouping has been even further improved. There’s definitely a balance between grouping as many pieces as possible so there is less sewing and trying to ensure the pieces can be assembled into standard-sized blocks that don’t require you to read a complicated “map.” I did some minor adjusting on my own but would be interested to see the changes.

The pattern also gives you layout ideas for each fabric color to ensure all your blocks can be cut from the amount of fabric recommended.

YouPatch - Fabric Cutting Guide

Once your pieces are cut, the pattern the shows you how to assemble the pieces into equal-sized blocks. Put the squares together and voila! Finished quilt!

There are plenty of instructions if you’re new to quilting. I got by using only the grid (pieces to blocks assembly) because it was clear on its own. Yay for feeling like a pro!

The customer service was great, too. I actually received a follow-up email about an hour after I received my pdf pattern that contained some suggestions and even a second pattern choice. If I hadn’t already decided to review YouPatch, this would have been the clincher.

Yes, I elected to sew way too many pieces on a deadline, but I loved using YouPatch and I really like the finished quilt. If you’re thinking of trying it, I can definitely say I recommend the YouPatch program.


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We interrupt our regularly scheduled quilting broadcast to bring you… International Quilt Festival 2013

My Marcelle Medallion progress has been painfully slow the past few weeks. After a late night yesterday, I have just one final border–not part of the original design–to add before my quilt top is finished. In the meantime, I wanted to share some photos I took at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago a week and a half ago. The photo quality isn’t great; I wasn’t sure whether a large camera would be allowed in the conference space, so I used my iPhone.

First up is a portrait quilt of the quilter’s mother. It’s called “Make You Happy” by Brigit Aubeso Bell-Lloch of Girona, Catalunya, Spain, and won first place in the Art – People, Portraits, and Figures category. (For a tutorial on making your own pixelated portrait quilt, click here.)

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

Next is another portrait – “Raven Blanket” by Lynn Czaban of Vancouver, Washington, USA. It won Honorable Mention.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This is called “Departure.” It won first place in the Traditional Pieced Category. It was made by Kiyomi Takayanagi of Kitanagoya, Aichi, Japan.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This one is “Mabel – 1952 REO” by Susan Cane of Canaan, Connecticut, USA. It won second place in Art-Pictorial.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This colorful quilt is called “Colorstrips #1.” It was sewn by Lynda Faires of Louisville, Colorado, USA. It won first place in Art-Abstract, Large. (The stripe across the bottom is the barrier tape used to keep visitors from getting too close or touching the quilt.)

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This quilt is “Flamenco” by Jin Gook Yang of Suji-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This quilt is “5-HTP Squared” by Jennifer Carlton-Bailly.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

The next quilt is “Ladies of the Sea” by Carolyn Stine of Springfield, Illinois, USA. I was surprised by how much I liked this quilt. Nautical themes aren’t my thing, and on first glance, it was more traditional than some of the other quilts I favored. Then I noticed the amazing variety of ships: everything from a pirate ship to a junk to a rowboat with sails! I also like how she incorporated color into the borders.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

Next was the Berne House Quilt. It was made by the members of the Bernese Quilters for an exhibition in Berne, Switzerland, in 2010.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

It was much more impressive as you got closer and saw individual houses:

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

I loved the monochromatic look with just a pop of color in “Rainy Day – San Francisco, Monday, October 25, 2010” by Sally Wright of Los Angeles, California, USA. (That was a mouthful even to type!)

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This quilt didn’t especially catch my eye the first second since it looked like a photo printed on fabric (versus a pieced portrait quilt):

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

…but then I noticed the quilting. Metallic thread was made to look like the sun’s rays streaming across the beach and the little girl. The quilt is “Childhood Exhilaration” by Julie Brandon and Valerie Schultz of Williamson, New York, USA.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

This beautiful house was the subject of “Lazy Afternoon” by Michelle Jackson of Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

There were, of course, many more quilts. These were just a few that I personally considered highlights. I also stocked up on some pretty sweet fabrics. In all, it was not a bad way to spend a few hours after work on a Friday night.

Quilt Festival 2013 photo by CraftProwler

If you’d like more details about any of the quilts, send me a message or leave me a comment. I took photos of the placards for all the quilts I posted above.