8-bit Mario Pixel Block Quilt

This is a quilt that I made for my nephew. The finished pixels are 4-inch squares, and the final quilt measures 6 × 8 feet (just a bit bigger than twin size).

A quilt showing an 8-bit sprite of Mario from the 1985 Nintendo game, Super Mario Bros.

I used grid interfacing (Pellon Quilter's Grid 820) for this project, which made things go very quickly. In fact, it felt like cheating.

Pre-cut cloth squares in red, blue, green, and yellow-brown lie waiting for placement on the grid interfacing.

After laying out the fabric squares on the interfacing, I ironed them into place.

A few squares have been ironed into place.

With grid interfacing, larger pieces of fabric can be used for contiguous pixels of the same color—this saves a lot of cutting.

The front and back of the interfacing, with the one-inch grid clearly visible on the back.

The interfacing isn't permanent—I could reposition the pixels when I (inevitably) made mistakes.

One corner of the quilt layout is nearing completion, with Mario's foot taking shape.

To keep things manageable, I divided the quilt into three horizontal strips, each 8 pixels high. One of these strips was solid blue, which I halved to create the top and bottom "margins."

Mario's head is in the background, while a square-by-square plan is visible in the foreground.

Liam was underwhelmed by the design.

An animated GIF of Liam the dog walking on the quilt, sitting down, and yawning.

Once the pixels were finally in their correct places, I sewed all of the horizontal seams.

The fabric is folded and ready to be seamed. A Singer Featherweight sewing machine stands ready to go to work.

Before sewing each seam, I used a few pins to keep the grid lined up and the seam straight.

A pin is positioned at the intersection of the grid on the front of the fabric.

The pin comes out on the intersection of the grid-lines on the back of the folded fabrlc, meaning the seam will be straight and the grid will be aligned.

After the horizontal seams were sewn, I cut the seams at the pixel intersections, pressed them in alternate directions, and then sewed the vertical seams.

Stitching is complete on this section of fabric. The backside of the top layer shows the seams pressed in alternating directions.

I used a basting spray to hold the sandwich quilt together before quilting (“Odif Usa 505 Spray and Fix Temporary Fabric Adhesive”). Again, this felt like cheating because I’ve only ever basted by hand before.

The quilt top rests on top of the batting. Some of the quilt stitching is complete.

I used invisible thread (Sulky) for the top and bottom quilting stitches. I read that invisible thread can be hard to work with, but I just made sure to wind the bobbin thread very slowly (onto steel bobbins) and everything worked fine.

The quilt is again ready to receive a line of stitching. A spool of inviisible thread is sitting on the machine's spool pin.

I did run into a problem with the timing of my feed dogs... it was time to feed this dog!

Liam the dog sits at a Singer 201 sewing machine. The quilt is rolled up and ready to stitch a line of quilting.

The fabric for the backside was appropriately themed.

The backing fabric is mario themed, showing Mario and Luigi jumping through an intricate level design with lots of enemies.

Since I was using invisible thread, I felt bold enough to finally try “stitch-in-the-ditch” binding. I used to finish binding by hand, so I was struck by how fast this went. Actually, I was mostly surprised that I didn't screw it up!

Red fabric binding tape is held in place at the edge of the quilt with dress pins.

Finally, I used some scraps to make this little "belt" for presentation.

A belt made of the backing fabric is held around the quilt with a large, bright red button.

I had leftover material, so I thought I would try making a mini Mario with 1-inch squares.

The back of a 20-inch by 20-inch square of interfacing, through which the Mario design visible on the reverse side.

The front of the smaller project, with Mario visible.

A few of the horizontal seams have been completed, which seems to vertically compress the middle rows of pixels.

Mario Run!

All of the horizontal seams have been sewn, but only the vertical seams on the right half have been sewn. The  effect is that the entire left half of mario's body is elongated, as if he were running quickly. The effect is almost comical.

I thought 1/4″ inch seam allowances with all those tiny squares would be hard to work with. It actually wasn't too bad.

The back of the smaller project, with seams pressed in alternate directions.

The project being quilted on the Singer 201 machine. It has a walking foot installed.

The smaller project with the quilting complete. Batting hangs out from around the unbound edges.

And the final product, whatever it may be (wall hanging? cauldronholder? antimacassar?):

The completed project, with bright red binding.