Quilt: February 2019

This quilt has been an epic project for me, so it has taken a bit of recovery time to think about how I wanted to summarize it. And I still need to get more photos when the sun is shining! But here is a blog post about it in the meantime.

Evolution of a Design

You know the saying about how you can read history backwards? I think that applies here as I look at how I came to this quilt design. Here’s a bit of background leading up to the design:

March, 2016 – Present: Made a lot of 1″ strip pieced quilts (ongoing)

March 23, 2016
March, 2016 – Present: Made a lot of 1″ strip pieced quilts (ongoing)

After making my first quilt with 1″ strips in early 2016, I continued to iterate on designs featuring 1″ strips. It is piecing that I feel very comfortable with.

Nov, 2017: Experimentation with generative quilt design

November 1, 2017
Nov, 2017: Experimentation with generative quilt design

I’m a big fan of Libs Elliott and her introduction of technology to quilting. I began experimenting with automated quilt design via JavaScript in late 2017, applying my ~10 years of experience as a web software engineer to quilting. The code driving my initial designs was different than Libs’ work, but I would classify the resulting quilts as a derivative of it.

Sept, 2018: Participated in the Michael Miller Challenge

September 1, 2018
Sept, 2018: Participated in the Michael Miller Challenge

I didn’t have much of structured plan for this quilt, other than to fill in strips (1/4″) in an improv style around a defined negative space created shape. Let’s just say I started the quilt not loving the fabric, but it grew on me as it came together.

Oct, 2018: Purchased a longarm

October 1, 2018
Oct, 2018: Purchased a longarm

And I proceeded to practice on said longarm with a few quilts. The longarm opened the door for me to work on larger quilts, as I had machine quilted all of my quilts on my domestic machine(s) up to this point (and only hired a longarmer once!).

Oct, 2018: Merged technique of generative quilt design with Michael Miller improv quilt strategy

November 1, 2018
Oct, 2018: Merged technique of generative quilt design with Michael Miller improv quilt strategy

I wanted to figure out a way to mimic my strategy for my improv Michael Miller challenge quilt via code, and add in logic to introduce a color gradient working with a specific solids set. That’s what I did in this quilt, finished in October of 2018.

Feb, 2019: Combined negative space with generative code

December 1, 2018
Feb, 2019: Combined negative space with generative code

Combining the generative algorithm with negative space (and experimenting with various ratios of said negative space), I created a design for this quilt suitable for longarm quilting. The quilt design measured 82″ x 82″ without a border.

Implementation (More Photos Below from IG)

Once I had my design in a size that I thought was something I could handle, I brought the design (in SVG format) into Photoshop to break down into small components. Having worked on the previous quilt, I had a sense of how much piecing I could accomplish in 1 – 2 hour spurts of sewing time each day, which is a good chunk of time where I can remain focused.

I divided my quilt design into these chunks and tackled them one by one. I started with the center X because that would be the most time consuming piecing and after that, I would be happy to move on to quicker piecing (IE for morale). Then, I worked on each remaining side (sort of like a triangle). I merged the sections via non-pieced fabric (not going the “braided” route), via regular machine stitching and a tiny bit of hand stitching, knowing that I planned to heavily quilt these sections.

Once I pieced everything together, I loaded it up on my longarm! I did not want quilting to distract from the piecing, so I chose to outline the pieced strips, like this previous one. I wanted denser quilting in the non-pieced section that was consistent with the design aesthetic of the quilt and also not distracting from the piecing. I had a whole two months of piecing to think about the quilting, so I ended up going with straight horizontal lines throughout. Binding in a matching light blue color was added to finish the quilt.


  • Solid: Robert Kaufman Kona in sky
  • Prints: Liberty Tana Lawn, ~50 different prints
  • Back: Free Spirit voile
  • Piecing thread: Aurifil 50wt, white/offwhite
  • Quilting thread: Aurifil 40wt, white
  • Batting: Warm & Natural Cotton
  • Piecing and quilting via Juki machines


It’s funny that I spent 2+ months on this quilt and the finish was anticlimactic. But check out the #stephskardalquiltsfeb2019 images on Instagram to see all the process photos for this quilt.

  • Reply
    March 20, 2019 at 2:32 am

    Thank you for detailing process and evolution! The result — this quilt and the October 2018 quilt, especially — is smashing. Never am I not astonished by the creativity of quilters, and I love that you are riffing on a foundation of…logic? Is that the right word? Logic and order, set free. I can admire free form quilts, and art quilts, but my brain simply doesn’t work that way (nor does it want to, to be frank.) But straight lines and crisp angles and repetition with a healthy does of color play thrown in? Yes, please! And your work is top of the heap.

    • Reply
      July 3, 2019 at 1:58 am

      Sorry for the extremely delayed response, but thanks so much for your comment/feedback! I appreciate it!

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