How I make an 8Bit quilt.. Designing it


So I was talking on my facebook page about how I make my quilts, I thought it might be easiest to try to explain it here. I am self-taught, so I’m far from professional, but I make a strong product I stand behind and have streamlined my strategy to be as effective as possible (for me!).

First I make a design, and to do this I research old video game sprites and screen captures. I love the website: The Spriters Resource. If I need inspiration or a reference, they always have exactly what I’m looking for. I also find looking at bead artist and minecrafters works inspiring when I’m hashing out a new plan. For the example of this blog, lets say I want to make a Super Mario related pillow. I might go to The Spriters Resource and look through the different Mario games they have (stay in the old school systems and handheld games. N64 and newer consul graphics will be too complex. Ideally for a  pillow you’d want an image that is 15 pixels wide (or less). Obviously there is wiggle room, but you don’t want your design to outgrow the size of the pillow. You can always make the squares smaller to get a more complex design, but the smaller the squares the more difficult it becomes to assemble/stitch, so I wouldn’t recommend that for a beginners project. For this pillow I want to do a key icon from the Mario games.

So on the left is my plan and on the right is the sprite from the game. The image was very tiny and I just made it bigger using the image viewer so the pixels are very obvious. Then all you need to do is simplify the colors and start counting squares. A very easy way to plan your design is to just use a grid image in paint and use the fill tool color in the squares. I actual use excel spreadsheets in google documents with conditional formatting – but its kind hard to explain, so if you’d like to know more – leave a comment and I’ll email you that explanation.

So now that I have a design, I need to count each line of the quilt so that I can lay out the squares in proper order to be sewn together. This can be a little time-consuming but it’s not difficult. I have a short hand I follow and each design I create is written out like this so I can easily remake each quilt.

So the top row (Row 1) is all Lilac, so I write out Row 1: L16. (There are 16 squares of lilac)The second row says, Row 2: L3   B10   L3. (This means that on that row I’ll lay out 3 squares of lilac, 10 squares of black and 3 squares of lilac.) .. In this design I abbreviated the colors Lilac as L, Dark Yellow as G (gold), Light Yellow as Y, Black as B.  The short hand can be very confusing if you have multiple shades of the same color, or you have two colors that start with the same letter.  You will need to be creative and smart about the letters you choose so that you don’t get confused or make mistakes. Once you have the image of the design and the written out count of the rows, you are almost done with the planning period. Last tedious counting thing: You need to count all of the squares to know how much of each color you will need. In this one for example: I need 62 black squares, 59 Gold, 23 Yellow, and 144 Lilac.

I went a little more complex than I recommended with a design that is 16×18 pixels. I’m going to make each square 1.75 inches squares so that it stay pillow size. I find an easy way to measure correctly is to think about how big you want the product to be (I’m aiming for 2 feet long or 24 inches). So divide the desired length in inches by the number of squares you have in the design’s row and then add .5 inches (hem allowance).  So for this one:

(24 desired inches for pillow/18 squares per row) + .5 inch hem allowance = How big your squares should be.

The exact math said 1.8, but to make it easier I will make my squares 1.75 inches

To figure out how much fabric to buy, I divide the length of a standard piece of fabric (48 inches) by the length of the quilts squares (1.75 inches). So for this one –

48 inches/1.75 inches = 27.4

SO NOW I KNOW, I can cut at least 27 squares out of the fabric that is 1.75 inches long. So I do  little bit more math for each color. I need 144 Lilac squares.

144 squares (needed)/ 27 (squares per row) = 5.3 

Are you asking what 5.3 means? It means I need 5.3 rows of the fabric to get the right about of cloth. I round-up to 6 and times it by 1.75inches.

6 x 1.75 = 10.5 inches of Lilac cloth.

Again I round-up because asking them to cut that specific seems silly and it’s always good to have extra. So for this quilt I will need to buy

2 inches of yellow fabric,  6 inches of dark yellow fabric,  6 inches of black and 11 inches of lilac

Ok, so I’m off to buy the fabric today and we will regroup with pictures on the next steps, cutting it up!!!! (Please let me know if this is super confusing or you have any questions..)


3 responses »

  1. Pingback: How I make an 8Bit quilt.. Making it! | indigotravels

  2. Hi! I would really like if u can give me any tips. Im a beginner and really love the pixel quilts. I really want to make one. Im intimidated by the cutting of the squares. If u have any advice please e-mail me.

    • Hey, feel free to contact me on Facebook with your specific questions! I know that begining is the hardest part but once you get started it gets easier to figure out a rhythm. I use a rotary cutter to cut strips of fabric into the squares. It is MUCH MUCH easier then trying to cut each individual square. You can pick up rotary cutters and a self healing board and ruler straight edge at most fabric and craft stores. IT will turn a month long square cutting endeavor into an hour of work!

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