Seeking brave and crazy quilters

UPDATE: the project now has its own permanent page at

I am looking for some brave and crazy quilters who would be willing to help me test out a crazy, harebrained scheme I have. Recently, I used to create some custom laser-cut acrylic quilt templates for some of the more insane tiling quilts I've been silently working on for a while. They are patterns that require unusual pieces that can't be bought in any store, and accuracy is key.

I'd love to make these available at ponoko -- at cost, so no profit to me! -- for a few quilters who might be willing to try something new, brave, and crazy in order to be able to make tiling quilts for themselves. I've gotten enough quiet inquiries to get the sense that there is a bit of interest. Cost should probably be sub-US$20.

The templates are clear acrylic; I photographed one on a red background so you could see the laser etching:

I created my design, and then generated files in the format that expected. A few weeks later, boom! Custom laser-cut acrylic quilt templates with features I liked: sharp corners nocked to prevent dog ears, pattern name inscribed, and an etched line showing the finished size of the piece.

The only thing I regret not adding: a hole for hanging pieces on a pegboard.Custom pieces from ponoko

I realize I have a weird intersection of abilities. There are lots of quilters out there, and there are lots of people with print design experience out there, but there aren't many quilters out there who happen to have a copy of Adobe Illustrator lying around at home. In fact, there may be about a maximum of three of us out there, and I'm one of them and I haven't found the other two. You can't make ponoko templates without vector art, and vector art is still a bit more in the realm of the design professional than the amateur hobbyist.

Basically ... I'm looking for someone brave and a little crazy. I'd be willing to upload the template files to ponoko, where said Brave Crazy Quilter™ could purchase a copy, and have it shipped. I wouldn't be involved in the transaction at all.

(Let me emphasize: there is ZERO money in this for me. I don't intend, nor do I want, to take a cut.)

Order the pieces. Try them out. I can provide you with a blueprint of the tiling, so you know how to sew it. Give me feedback, so I can make the designs better. Then I can make them more widely available, and maybe help bridge the gap between nerds, math, and quilting.

I'm leaning toward making the Penrose pieces available first. So -- yes -- the same pieces that could let you do a baby quilt like Penmanship...

It's proving to be a difficult quilt to photograph. I originally shot a photo of it in our department, and the colors looked muddied, so we waited for the thunderstorm to end and reshot it outside on the back loading dock. It's not great, but better.

Finished size is about 41 inches per side.Finality.

could also be used to do a larger, bed-sized version like Pentatonic.

Funny ... I was so sure this needed to have a black background ... and now I'm not sure. I look at this and think about how amazing it would be if the colors flowed evenly instead of being chopped up like this.

It gives me shivers. I'm on to something here.Screenshot on white

I'm going to forward this post on to a few quilt bloggers I know, to see if they know anyone who might be itching to try a little wall quilt project.

Now for the disclaimers.

Dude. This is a beta test. By that definition, these pieces may do anything short of eating your baby and rampaging through your quilt stash yelling "OMG YOU BOUGHT THAT?" I hope they work for you, and I want them to work for you, but this process is about working out the kinks. My biggest concern is that the nocked corners might not be perfect, but there might be some other huge technical issues lurking that I'm unaware of.

There aren't any refunds. Just my gratitude, and the knowledge that what you're doing will help make it possible for other brave and crazy quilters to do brave, crazy, and beautiful things.

Also, if you're doing a Penrose tiling quilt, you should know that nowhere, nowhere, NOWHERE in that pattern will there be any seam longer than the edges of your pieces. You should approach this quilt with the same level of trepidation and respect as you would a hexagon quilt -- where you never get nice, long seams. Ever. It's one little bitty seam after another.

It's why Penrose tilings are beautiful and it's why they're rarely done as quilts. They're technical, they require attention, and they won't look like any other quilt you'll ever do.


Line for the crazy forms to the left. Still want in? Leave a comment, or email me at amy [at]


I'm so in on this. :) Just messaged you over on the QB.

Awesome. QB took my post down. They don't want me linking to my blog -- they instead want fully-informative posts there, and they don't want me linking to my photos on flickr, but to instead upload my photos there. Um ... no thanks.

I'm glad you found the post before it went away!

I wrote a brief post about your project - I didn't think the comment you left would reach enough people. This is a fantastic quilt, and I hope you get lots of takers. I'm considering it - how many different shapes does this one have?

Only two! It's all in how they're arranged.

I did get a question from someone via email -- she wanted to know if this project could be done via English paper piecing. I think so, given that there are only two pattern pieces necessary, but having a copy of the pattern to work from would still be necessary. I didn't even think about that, because I don't do EPP.

I'm still stunned I got takers. As in, any at all. I've gotta go draw up patterns and instructions! I really didn't expect to need to do that just yet!

I thought it looked like just two! I'm definitely in then.

I would also give it a try via English paper piecing.  I saw Sandi's post and love the design. 

I am willing to give it a try. love a challenge. 

I'm interested, but have all but put aside quilting completely for a little while (probably just the summer, but my youngest's current developmental stage is incompatible, and my hobbies ebb and flow like that).

FWIW, I don't do Illustrator, but I have been inclined to code what I want in postscript (directly, or with a script outputting postscript) for quilt stuff.  This may be a "good-enough" keeping me from learning "better" situation.

What's the size of the template?

Camilla - I saw your email address when I approved your comment (don't worry, it's not displayed publicly) and somehow I'm not surprised you grok Postscript. I actually have all of the tilings rendered out pretty far and saved in .eps format, so if you can open those, you have flexibility most of the testers wouldn't have. Currently there is no set template size; earlier this morning, I emailed everyone who had expressed interest and asked two questions:

1) What size quilt do you think you'd want to try?
2) What's the smallest piece size you'd feel comfortable with, given how the skinny rhomb in the Penrose tiling is going to have hefty bias edges?

For you, you could take the PostScript file, find a section of the tiling that looked interesting, and expand/contract the section of the tiling until the section you want to do fits the finished size of quilt you want to make.

I have a tendency to go pretty small with quilt pieces, but this seems like a place to go with 3" strips or so (I realise the two widths will be different).  Perhaps it would be good to fiddle with the numbers and try to hit two strip widths that both come out close enough to even 1/8ths of an inch?  I hadn't thought ahead to quilt sizes - I think I would start, and let my progress guide my ambition.

I'm all over handling the actual penrose layout myself; I coded up a de Bruijn grid tiling in python a couple of years ago, and actually use its output as a printer test job at work  :)  I can put that out there if you want it; at the time I had wanted high-res output that I could use like a coloring book (with a bit of "because I can" thrown in), and I lost interest before cleaning up the code for public consumption.  Where I haven't got things figured out is how the template clips the corners intelligently, nor the details of using Pocono, and it sounds like you've worked that out.

(Actually, I suspect you inspired my 2009 "let's play with this" impulse, but I never followed through.)


I think the world needs a penrose web toy that lets you save/print high quality output, and I may even be the person to write one, but not this year or next.  I am not actually lacking in time or attention span for interesting projects, but as things stand, I can't really make room for anything technology-heavy, because I do that at work (sysadmin) and my family is pressuring me to stick to hobbies that allow me to be more mentally/emotionally present with them, while I do things.  So, I've been eyeing Pocono from a distance, and also the technology work of hooking up one of the scrapbooker drag-blade-on-paper cutters, and promising myself that when the kids are older, I'll set aside enough time to make some interesting paper crafts happen (not related to quilting, but I'm trying to convey the kind of tapped-out that means I have both ideas and time, but also a lot of stalled projects).

I recall seeing your Pentatonic awhile back, it's genuinely drool-worthy.  I'd love to try it in English Paper Piecing; for me it's far less scary than a template (and all those corners are way easier!).  Those bias edges are intimidating for regular piecing, especially once you start to really reduce the size, but they can go pretty teeny in EPP:  I'm not sure I'd go smaller than 2" at the wide point of that narrow rhombus, that's pretty fiddly, but I'd try 3 in a heartbeat!  If using a real template I'd probably go for a wall size and aim for a larger piece if doing EPP.  Would be thrilled to play with the pattern if you have images of your chosen size to send; if your aim is to test the template production, I can do that too, but they'd have to be bigger, LOL.

HI Amy,

I have been interested in doing a math quilt for a long time- I am not computer savvy enough to know anything about Adobe illustrator so I am pretty sure that while the desire is there I am not the right person to help you answer the questions.
I wish it was a different time where I could take this pattern on- My husband is an amateur astronomer and we have spent time looking at penrose tiling and golden ratio and fibonnaci sequences.  I have thought about making a quilt design that reflected some of these math equations. Perhaps some day when I don't have a long list of quilts for loved ones.

Good luck with your project.

Warmest regards,


I would be interested in trying this.  It looks intriguing.

If you didn't get my email last night, and you're interested, then I've goofed and I forgot your email from the list. ("Penrose Quilt Challenge") isn't done, but it's done enough to share with people, so there you go.

  • I've identified a company that sells the EPP papers needed to do the project through paper piecing
  • I should get the plastic templates uploaded to ponoko tonight.
  • I've also got grids up for different quilt sizes, from 22" square to huuuuge, to hopefully accommodate most of the ideas my Willing Victims had.

Plastic templates are now available on ponoko! will hold all of the templates I make available for others to use.

I am in for this challenge!  Am I too late?  Please help me know what I need to do to play along



You aren't too late at all! This is going to be an ongoing thing. I've got a full page of info set up at and you can work through at your own pace. Do toss in photos into the flickr pool as you get started -- I'd love love love to see them!

Hi. I just found out about this. Is it to late to get in on? I would really love to be a beta tester for this. I like the way the Penrose tilings look. If you are still looking for tester let me know what I need to do.



Not too late at all! I've got lots of info posted at -- links to plastic templates as well as paper pieces. I'd love it if you kept in touch as you tried out the pattern, too -- don't hesitate to email me.  amy [at] domesticat [dot] net reaches me.

Thanks for posting the penrose tiles and thanks for introducing me to ponoko. I don't have Adobe Ills., but I'm fluent in AutoCad and have been using it for years for quilting design. I've been messing around with the Penrose tiling on and off (it seems to be just right for long dark winter nights) and this will get me going on a project for certain. P