Independent Project Final – Rachel

For my independent project, I made a story quilt about my time at CMU. I chose a quilt because I liked how the medium was able to show different layers of information – the piecework and the actual quilting.

Materials: For the front (gridded), I used my old fitted sheet from my first two years, and is a Twin XL so I haven’t been using it, and I know my mom will make me throw it out when I graduate, so I might as well upcycle it. The red and blue parts are from thrifted button up shirts that I cropped, and used the leftovers. The red pattern reminded me of the red brick houses in Pittsburgh.

The back is made from scraps from this project and my previous project- the encoded cloth of recycled bags- because something I have become very aware of especially the past few years is sustainability, and to maximize resources.

Design: I made a 5×5 grid for my five years here, each row representing a year. The quilting is actually a map of the Oakland-Squirrel Hill area, with CMU at the middle. All of the places I’ve lived the past few years could be found in this area. It is oriented to be read from the back. I very much associate place with memories, so in this case, it is literally what binds everything together.

Top Left: My third year, I had a 9am class where I would always show up with banana bread
Right: I got a money tree last year, one of my first house plants, and it has still been thriving
Bottom Left: The front of the house I am currently living in
Top Left: The iconic “Cube House” we all had to make in first year studio
Top Right: I used to explore Downtown a lot first year when I was homesick
Second Row: My friends and I drove out of Pittsburgh and I was amazed by how many stars I saw for the first time (I’m a city girl..)
Lower Left: I have always just had a poster of an egg banh mi hanging up in my room all these years for some reason
Lower Right: Third year, I won second place in a design competition with one of my best friends with that design
Bonus: The fish (sardine) is a souvenir I hang on my wall from my trip to Portugal for studio my fourth year
Squirrel Hill- The white square represents my house

Throughout this project, and this semester, I grew a lot. I have gotten faster at embroidering, and more comfortable with using the sewing machine! I am pretty happy with how the quilt came out. Next time, I would like to make a quilt that is sized to be used!

Independent Project Update – Rachel

Feeling a little behind because I did not bring any sewing materials home last week, but I was able to find some fabrics while thrifting. I bought a couple of XL dress shirts to crop for fabrics for the quilt. I chose this red one because it reminded me of the brick houses in Pittsburgh. I checkered it with my old bedsheet from my freshman year, which I no longer use because I don’t have a Twin XL bed anymore.

So far, I have cut the fabric into 5″x5″ squares and started sewing them together with a 3/8″ seam. My next step would be to finish the piecework and start embroidering the white squares with memories from my life in college.

Independent Project Proposal – Rachel

For my independent project, I wanted to make a quilt about my time living in Pittsburgh. The centerpiece would be a map of Oakland-Squirrel Hill area, where I would document where I have lived, and my daily routes to school. I would also stitch on elevations of the houses and my studio spaces. Drawing in the streets would end up becoming the quilting method of sandwiching the cloth. For materials, I will use found fabric (unwanted fabrics and old bedsheets), and the filling we received. I will do a mix of handsewing, machine sewing, and some embroidery.

Initial Sketch
Map with elevation of Margaret Morrison, my second home (studio), but will include elevations of other buildings as well

11/22 Proposal
Gather materials, sketch streets on fabric, make buildings?, start sewing streets
12/01 Update Post
Finish sewing streets, Handstitch red paths and dots for points of interest
12/08 Due Date

Digital Repeat Pattern – Rachel

My digital repeat pattern is of things drawn from my environment of my past couple of months being home. I have my house in Pittsburgh with the huge tree that blocks my window, my bike which I have been riding more since quarantine, and a lounge chair in front of a table of plants where I sit to work sometimes. This pattern is envisioned to be for wallpaper, or possibly someone’s (my) bedsheets?

Original hand sketch
Digital Swatches

There are three color patterns- the first two using the blue often found on fine China, and other of fall colors as my choice of color palettes but is easily adaptable. The pattern was designed for a brick pattern, that way the objects in the pattern fit together better. The leaves help fill in the gaps as well.

Looks like a sketch, not filled in for a more subtle look on walls
Objects starting to be filled in for a stronger pattern
Outline with fall colors, maybe the pattern for a notebook

Even though I had been using Adobe Illustrator for 4 years now, this was my first time making a pattern! It was not as hard as I thought it would be, and will be using this skill more often.

Render of the wallpaper pattern in a restaurant

Independent Project Ideas – Rachel

1. Story Quilt of my life? of my time in college?

Throughout my life, I have collected part of places I have been to, whether in postcard form or a museum ticket, and I hang them up on my wall. What if I used that spirit and turned it into a story quilt of my life?

I am graduating in spring! So maybe it would be nice to make a quilt that will remind me of my five years here at CMU.

Wall in my second year apartment
Wall collecting parts of the past 2 years

2. Shibori Indigo Dyed or Embroidered Kimono

I enjoyed the indigo dye workshop we did, and want to try it at home. I would indigo dye cloth to sew together into a kimono. Or maybe an embroidered kimono?

Inspiration Kimono

3. More quilts made from recycled materials

A continuation of my quilt from the Encoded Cloth project, I would make another quilt from more recycled materials that I find

Digital Repeat Pattern – Rachel

I was intrigued by the prompts of interrupting historical patterns and drawing from your environment, so I thought maybe a bit of both.

This is a woven textile from the Met Collection that I liked. It feels calming and like a leisurely day. So what if I made a pattern with similar colors or in the same style, but more modern and from a leisurely day in my life.

Here is quick sketch of my house, bike, chair, and table of plants.

This is a first draft of what the repeating pattern looks like. I still have to refine the lines and colors, but I like the effect so far!

Digital Repeat Pattern – Rachel

This is a woven textile from the Met Collection from the 18th century, “from China or Japan.” I am drawn to how the pattern is nested in each other, and the hierarchy of different elements- the main fish, the waves its sits on, the splashing of the waves, then the drops of water in the air. Together, it is well composed and create an intriguing figural negative space. In addition, there is also the pattern below it that seems very different, but of similar colors and contrast.


In contrast to the textile above, this is called Brownstoner designed by Ian “Hydeon” Ferguson, found on Flavor Paper. As an architecture student from Brooklyn that likes to draw facades, of course I was drawn to a pattern of Brownstone building fronts in Brooklyn. There is an intense amount of detail, and lack of white space that makes it almost seem like it is a never-ending amount of different variations of buildings. When the pattern repeats, it fits right into the one below it.

Encoded Cloth from the Future – Rachel

In 2030, I imagine (or I guess hope) that we will have taken action against climate change. We will be composting and planting more trees and there will be greenery everywhere. We will decrease the amount of waste in the world, and upcycle to turn waste into something more useful and beautiful.

For this piece, I was inspired by the Korean Jogakbo, which is a style of patchwork, traditionally used to create wrapping cloths from scraps of left-over fabrics.

In this case, I chose to use single-use plastic bags. In states like New York, there is already a ban on plastic bags. I imagine in 2030, they would be abolished and rare. So what do we do with them?

In this case, I imagine we use them to make a wrapping cloth of even more value, using its scraps, and something so disposable right now, to make something more beautiful.

I used plastic bags I found around the house, as well as a reusable bag from a commercial store, and a chipotle napkin I had. I appliqued the smiley face normally found on plastic bags, as well as a black bag cut as clouds, signifying how the commercial stores would find everything okay with polluting the world. “Have a Nice Day.” I had to hand-stitch the pieces together because the plastic was too fragile for the sewing machine. There are two sides, one with darker pieces, and one with lighter. The outer frame is made from an old pair of sweatpants I no longer wore.

A play on the quilting method, I chose to hold the pieces together with a small flower in the center of each square, and branches of trees and plants around the center piece.

Bottom Text says “Recycle Today for a Better Tomorrow”

I imagine this to be a quilt of hope, showing that we can eventually break out of the cycle, and there will be greenery and plants that overgrow the plastic pollution. Utilitarian-wise, it could be used to wrap gifts for friends, or clothes.

100 Ideas – Rachel

  1. quilt plastic bags
  2. weave plastic bags together
  3. stitch parts of plastic bags on fabric
  4. embroider image on
  5. stitch together old clothes and scraps
  6. cut out smiley faces from bags and handstitch
  7. melt down the plastic bags??
  8. go to thrift store for fabrics to reuse
  9. fully biodegradable textile
  10. use used tea bags
  11. go through my recyclables
  12. newspaper articles of warning
  13. plastic bucket hat
  14. food receipts
  15. UN 2030 Goals Quilt
  16. umbrella from old plastic
  17. use leaves
  18. various green textures
  19. dried foods
  20. vertical farming
  21. greenhouses
  22. no more glass skyscrapers
  23. green walls
  24. green roofs
  25. algae
  26. biofuel
  27. ban on single use plastic
  28. package free shopping
  29. oystertecture
  30. solar panels
  31. windmills
  32. water generated energy
  33. tote bags
  34. more farmer’s markets
  35. less big supermarkets
  36. urban farms
  37. biodegradable fashion
  38. biodegradable masks
  39. carbon absorbing clothes
  40. carbon absorbing buildings
  41. more biking
  42. no cars in cities
  43. electric cars
  44. mostly summer year round
  45. DIY culture
  46. ai markets
  47. shared workspaces (like wework)
  48. work from home
  49. outdoor dining
  50. bubbles for outdoor dining
  51. hyperloop
  52. travel by water
  53. city in a tower
  54. even taller skyscrapers
  55. everyone lives in cities
  56. composting
  57. whole food cycle
  58. vegans
  59. nose-to-tail if eating meat
  60. use whole vegetables
  61. bamboo gardens
  62. “instagrammable” attractions
  63. ban amazon packaging
  64. green juices
  65. no more fast fashion
  66. buy second hand
  67. on computer all day
  68. can get anything delivered
  69. no more cable tv
  70. youtube is tv
  71. short attention spans
  72. reusable bottles
  73. cafes only use reusable mugs
  74. less disposable cutlery
  75. more picnics
  76. drive-in movies
  77. live in cars
  78. canoes
  79. live in ships
  80. retrofit houses
  81. later gen immigrants try to return to roots
  82. ai pets?
  83. excess
  84. bad posture
  85. tech neck
  86. online museums
  87. tattoos
  88. healthier foods
  89. news through social media
  90. clothes made from tree branches
  91. mini homes
  92. netted bags
  93. clothes from fruits
  94. marathons
  95. online friends
  96. retro trends
  97. nostalgia
  98. bluetooth
  99. lightweight fabrics
  100. instant

Encoded Cloth From the Future – Rachel Lu

Citicape House with Europe's largest green wall in London by Sheppard Robson

In 2030, I imagine (or I guess hope) that we will have taken action against climate change. We will be composting and planting more trees and there will be greenery everywhere. We will decrease the amount of waste in the world, and upcycle to turn waste into something more useful and beautiful. An example would be these marbled tiles from post-consumer plastic waste by Enis Akiev or even the Pollution Popsicles which was a warning of water pollution.

Kazakhstani designer Enis Akiev has developed a method for turning single-use plastic packaging into tiles, by emulating the organic process of rock formation.

Metamorphic rocks such as marble develop their flowing, irregular patterns through heat and pressure, and Akiev’s Plastic Stone Tiles are subjected to similar conditions to achieve the same effect.
Pollution Popsicles

An ecoded cloth could be showing the possible solutions to waste and upcycling: how we could make something beautiful out of something people no longer want. We could quilt together old plastic bags, or scraps of fabric, or use dried flowers or dried tea leaves for embellishment.