Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pythagoras' Lute

This is one of those quilts that has a big "WOW!" factor and looks way more complicated to make than it is.

The secret is that, while the spirals are the dominant feature that your brain interprets from what your eyes see, in actuality, the quilt is made of 10 wedges, each containing a series of pentagrams which build on each other as they expand outward. And there is not one curved line in the quilt!

For more on the history and math behind this design, click here

Since there are 10 wedges, there must also be 10 colors. I used the 7 colors of the spectrum plus red-violet, yellow-green, and blue-green to get to ten. The pattern for this paper-pieced quilt was clear and very easy to follow. Each of the 10 wedges has the same structure; the only thing that changes is the colors of the pieces within them.  And notice that opposing spirals contain the reverse set of colors.

The only thing I didn't like about the pattern was the finishing instructions. They used the "sew-the-back-to-the-top-right-sides-together-and-turn-inside-out" method. This is something I rarely do, even with a basic square quilt!  And with 10 outside points and 10 inside points, and all those bulky seams, this seemed very problematic to me.

So what to do? I thought about raw-edge stitching this to a background or folding and appliqueing, but was not comfortable with either of those approaches. Then...Voila!  I called on old Pythagoras himself to help me come up with setting triangles (3 different sizes; forward and reverse pieces) to turn the decahedron into a square.

Since there are 10 wedges, each one must be 36 degrees. So I used this calculator to determine the unknown sides of the "filler" triangles. Then I made cardboard templates for each of the three shapes. Just to be safe, I made each one a little bigger and trimmed as necessary. Since the background fab was solid black, I could fold it and cut two pieces at once. Then I used one as the forward piece and one as its reverse.

Quilting, as usual, was minimal.  For the Lute, I used clear monofilament and just ditch stitched along each wedge's edge.  For the background, I used black thread and stipled.

As with some of my other colorful and 3D quilts, I mounted this one on stretcher bars. This keeps the quilt top taut. Check out my Quilting Tips blog for instructions on how to do this.

And where will this quilt reside?  I am happy to say that it will be offered for auction at the Hands Of Peace Gala later this month.  HOP is an interfaith organization developing peacebuilding and leadership skills in Israeli, Palestinian and American teens through the power of dialogue and personal relationships.  I chose to make this pattern since it shows that, even though individuals may have differences (here, literally, size, shape, and color), they can all work in beautiful harmony and come together as one central unifying entity.

Peace and beauty to all.