Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Periodic Table Quilt

I couldn't be happier to introduce you all to my latest secret project (the "rainbow" I was quilting in the post below) that I have been working on in different ways all spring! My gift to my fantastic sister when she took her Masters Degree at Uppsala Universitet after having finished up by doing 6 months research at Harvard University in Boston this spring - Anna's Periodic Table Quilt! I couldn't be prouder of my amazing sister who's been working so incredibly hard these last 5 years and I knew I had to give her something that reflected just how proud I was, and the idea for her own, 100% custom quilt from fabric to finish, was born.

She was heading the pharmaceutical students student union for one year and was incredibly invested in them her entire time at the university so I wanted the backing to reflect that. Her wonderful boyfriend helped me in secret to get a hold of an illustrator file of the logotype for the backing so she always would remember her time at university.

This quilt brought on many new first for me, my first custom designed fabric from Spoonflower was ordered for both the front and the backing and let me tell you, to get the front right in dimensions and color and everything was by far the hardest part in the making of this! I'm very much an illustrator beginner (darn what a tricky program to learn!) so it took a lot of time to get it the way I wanted.  I referenced a pre-made black and white periodic table file I'd bought for this specifically and used it for element names and atomic weights and so on. Just to realize when I got the fabric in my hands after weeks of anticipation, that the guy I had referenced had got like 1/3 of it wrong!! Saw it when I stitched up the first row of elements (luckily, I'd not finished the quilt) which was the Lanthanides, I saw that Lutetium had Hydrogen's atomic weight and then suddenly a ton of errors appeared before my eyes! I felt like an idiot for not checking it's accuracy before I ordered but when you buy a periodic table, you kind of assume it will be correct... So a second order was made to correct the 25 or so faulty elements I had. Which resulted in them arriving 3 weeks before the set delivery date, so you can imagine my panic at the end. I'll stop babbling now and show you some more pics =)

Did my first micro stippling (at least I think it s micro ^^) in the small squares.

Closeup of some Transition metals and the quilting. Did normal meander for the elements with a small frame around each separate element to make them stand out individually a bit more. And I did a boxy loop-de-loop on the white for contrast. This was also my very first time using a different colored bottom thread (off-white all over) and with the thin cotton batting I used, it was a true hassle to get the tension right all over the quilt!

I did the binding with a decorative stitch to make the transition from white to black a bit smoother and I have to say I'm very happy with that decision, it looks very nice I think even if it did for some seriously long time dedicated to binding.

And the tag, since I was ordering custom fabric anyway I snuck in a tag at the bottom of the second top order, which sadly shows a little as the letters where cut off at the bottom a bit...

It says: "Made with love by Maria Wallin 2012. I'm so proud of you my beloved sister"


And some "the making of" photos, all laid out a first time for sorting.

This was how far I'd gotten when I realized I had errors... Here I've piled them up and checking them towards a number of periodic tables online for accuracy.

Finally! Top finished and I'm preparing or borders.

Quilting with the speed of light to have it finished in time! Not a single fold, plucker or bubble! I'm so proud of the quilting for this quilt! I know it's all simple patterns but to get the meander decently even all over, get the tension right with the white bottom thread and no pluckers and therefore no need for any stitch unpicking. All over an amazing feat for me =)


Anna: I hope you know how much I love you and that no one could be prouder of you then I am, every day. You, my little sister who "didn't like to read" and thought I was so boring with my nose stuck in a book all the time growing up. Now you have had your nose in a book for so many years and it has made you even more clever than you where (I'll never win an argument again ^^), and given you so much experience in so many areas, not just studies and lab work and I'm sure that whatever you decide to do in life after this, you'll keep making me and those who love you just as proud.

You're nothing short of amazing little sister and I love you. 


  1. What a great quilt. So original! Very, very nice!

  2. Thank you for sharing this very personal quilt. It was a terrific idea from you and your sister will be sure to love this quilt. It is so special.

  3. Replies
    1. Tried to reply to you through email but it was bounced back for some reason both times. Thank you for your heartwarming words =)

  4. And so your mom have cried a bit after reading your beautiful words about your darling sister. You have spoken for us all. We are so proud of Anna!
    And you´ve made the most fantastic quilt for her!
    Lots of hugs

  5. En helt fantastisk idé att bara komma på! Den är genomsyrad av KÄRLEK. Det känns då jag läser din text. Blir faktiskt rörd.
    Quiltningen är ju bara så läcker!!

    Grattis till ett helt superfint "lapperiarbete" !!!

  6. this quilt is amazing! Did you print the table on the fabric yourself? Wonderful wonderful!

  7. Awesome quilt; I used to teach the periodic table to my Physical Science class before I retired. Where did you get the fabric?? I would love to do one of these.

  8. Congrats to you for creating such a wonderful quilt/keepsake and congrats to your sister for her great accomplishments in her education.

  9. This is absolutely phenomenal! I love it and I'm sure your sister does too...what a "labor of love" to be sure! I want to make one!!!!! I'm a math/science gal from way back and would love to have this in my home....thank you for sharing! I may be asking you LOTS of questions down the road! LOL!

  10. What a wonderful quilt! Being a former science student, your quilt brings back lots of memories. It's a lovely tribute for your sister.

  11. AWESOME both from a Chemistry standpoint and quilting perspective!

    A question: Why did you have the issues with the physical B&W Periodic Table you got at the beginning? Couldn't you just print it off of a reputable site like IUPAC ( or ?

    Also: What company did you order the custom-printed textiles from? They turned out really nice--was it screen-printed text?

  12. Maria, I found your blog through a search for a periodic table quilt. Your sister's quilt is amazing. Thank you for sharing your process and your source. I went to Spoonflower and found someone who designed a periodic table panel. It will do for what I want, but I have to say that your version is much nicer. Spectacular and obviously made with much love.

  13. What an amazing quilt, a true labour of love! Well done!


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