STEM & Quilting with Kids: Façades

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Art meets Architecture in Quilts

Quilters are inspired by the world around them and nature has been a constant theme. However, the world that human beings have designed, constructed, and inhabited through architecture finds its way into quilting in marvelous ways.

Architecture has been a source of inspiration throughout the history of quilting—beginning with house quilts, then moving forward in the 21st century to include making quilts inspired by iconic skyscrapers and buildings.

Here are a few house shapes that inspire quilters and makers everywhere. When you analyze the shapes and forms included in these houses, you see squares, rectangles, triangles, and semi-circles. You see the texture of the siding, the different materials, and the landscaping. All these details inform and motivate quilters to add embellishments and decorations to create areas of interest in their quilts.

Look at these structures. Notice how they, too, all consist of simple geometric shapes. Observe how they look as if they could be made from strips.

Quilters in the early history of our country loved to use simple piecing techniques to create House quilts. Appliqué (sewing fabric onto a quilt) was another technique a quilter might use to make and embellish house quilts. Contemporary quilters create house quilts inspired by architecture, as well.

In my own personal artwork, I have created quilts inspired by Architecture as well. Notice the hexagon and circular fabric embellishments. See how I use buttons for doorknobs and beads for decoration?

Some quilters use images of architectural structures to design abstracted, free form quilt designs.

In the design of homes and buildings, architects have a lot to consider. They think about size, materials, and how it looks on the inside and outside. Architects develop a plan that describes how the structure will look on the outside. What a structure looks like outside is called the façade.

The façade is designed to stand out visually, with unique silhouettes and innovative use of materials. The plan for the façade includes door and window styles and decoration for the front, sides, and back of the structure. The façade designs of iconic buildings, cityscapes, and homes offer many potential project designs for quilters.

Architecture is a perfect fit for source material for quilters. It uses many of the same tools that quilters use, such as templates, rulers, and compasses as they develop drawings and models. Quilters use those same tools to make quilts that are balanced and appealing. In architecture, the quality of life people experience in structures is enhanced by good design. However, the look of the façade adds another layer of creativity contributing to the overall success of the design of the structure. In that same way, quilters add details to their house or building quilts with buttons, beads, thread, and embellishments that give their façades a distinctive look, as well.

Take time out to do a walking tour of your neighborhood and observe the façades of buildings and homes. Be inspired to sketch some to use in future artwork inspired by your neighborhood and the structures around you.

Explore a simple type of quilt called a strip quilt as you create your own mini-quilt top inspired by building façades.

Strip City Mini Quilt Top

This mini quilt is simply made using 11 strips and 1 small circle. It is straight seams sewn in a particular sequence which makes it a fun and easy project for beginners and advanced young quilters.


  • Scissors
  • #2 Pencil
  • Black and White Fabric Paint
  • One Small Paint Brush
  • One-Fourth of a Yard or 1 fat quarter of Light Blue
  • 6” x 6” Orange (sun)
  • One-Eighth of a yard of Gray, Brick Red, Brown, Black and Grass Green
  • Gray Sewing Thread
  • Black Quilting Thread
  • Hand-Sewing Needles and/or Sewing Machine
  • 18” Ruler

Cutting Instructions:

Cut Strips:

  • Brick Red: 2 ½” x 6”
  • Gray: 3” x 10”
  • Brown: 2 ½” x 5”
  • Light Blue: 7 ¾” x 2 ½”
    • 3” x 3 ½”
    • 2 ½” x 5”
    • (2) 1 ¾”x 13”
  • Grass Green: 2 ½”x 9 ½”
  • Black: 2 ¾” x 9 ½”
  • Gray: 1 ¾” x 9 ½”
  • Orange: (2) 2 ¾” Circles


1. Cut out the strips.

2. Draw the doors and windows on the buildings. Paint them in with Black Textile Paint. 

3. Paint the lines on the street. Let paint dry for an hour.

4. Sew sky strips to the top of the buildings. Press seams toward the buildings.

5. Lay the strips out for sewing. Sew the Building and Sky strips together. Press Seams. Sew side sky panels to both sides of the building section.

6. Sew the grass, street, and sidewalk strips together. Press the seams.

7. Sew the sidewalk to the bottom of the buildings. Press seams to complete the mini-quilt top.

Optional: Take the two circles and place them right sides together. Sew the two circles all around their circumference. Cut a small slit in the back circle, turn the circles inside out and press. Place the sun in the sky on your mini-quilt and sew it down with a running stitch.

Now, wasn’t that easy? With your leftover scraps, you can make a border for your mini-quilt or you can make another Strip City Mini-Quilt. Have fun quilting your mini-quilt, young artists!