Thursday, April 19, 2012

And now, for something modern: Quilt Otaku

This post is for anyone who loves modern houses, quilting, Japanese fabrics, or hand applique.  Marisa Zucek is a quilt historian, appraiser, designer, and instructor whose blog, Quilt Otaku (which means "Quilting Nerd") features all of the above. We are enamored with her stunning Modern House blocks, which were inspired by homes in the California Bay Area. Marisa says:  "I have been having a great time designing this modern's been a labor of love." There will be a total of 12 patterns in the finished quilt.

Modern House Block #1 by Marisa Zucek at Quilt Otaku

Marisa explains her inspiration for the project: "I really enjoy seeing all the modern architecture that we have here in the California Bay Area. I started to research some local modern architects, and the buildings they created, to get inspiration for my applique work. Then I decided to visit a few houses and photograph them in person to get a feel for how they look in real life. It takes a lot of design thought, but I eventually sketch applique quilt blocks based on things I see in the photos. My goal is to capture the spirit of the house in applique, not to make an exact representation. I often simplify the design or alter it a bit to help it fit into a square format."  The block shown above is available for purchase (as a PDF download); the photo inspiration is shown below.

Modern House Block Inspiration, house by Malika Junaid, photo by Marisa Zucek at Quilt Otaku

Modern House Block by Marisa Zucek at Quilt Otaku

Marisa has been creating these blocks and patterns as a BOM project for the hand applique class she teaches at A Verb For Keeping Warm. In the fabulous block shown above, which was inspired by a house with a view of the Pacific Ocean, you can see a representation of the ocean waves at the far right.  The balconies and several windows are represented by hand embroidered lines, and the large exterior fireplace is made in a Japanese taupe fabric to give the appearance of concrete. 

Modern House Block #8 by Marisa Zucek at Quilt Otaku

The photo above is the 8th block in Marisa's series of Modern Houses. She says: "The house itself is located in Berkeley, CA and is known as the Fish House by locals but is actually the Tsui House. It looks like it would be more at home under the sea than on a relatively normal street. I used taupe fabrics that sort of looked like the ocean to me."  In this close-up photo you can see the marvelous applique detail which Marisa has created in the windows, exterior walls and trees.

Quilt Otaku Modern House Block by Marisa Zucek at Quilt Otaku, inspired by Dwell

Marisa has been selling physical full size copies of the patterns at the Verb for Keeping Warm shop. The 10th block pattern is releasing in her class on Sunday, April 22 2012, and the last 2 patterns will be released in her May and June 2012 classes, respectively*. To see more blocks as they will look in the finished quilt - and a photo of Marisa herself - check out her recent post titled Voices in Cloth 2012.

*About the patterns: Marisa also has been working on posting the blocks for PDF purchase at her website, Quilt Otaku. About the patterns, she says:  "I do not include applique instructions with the blocks. A quilter would need to have advanced applique skills in order to make the blocks successfully without joining our class. If folks do want to make them and have never done applique before, I do work with people of all experience levels in class."

Image credits:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Marisa Zucek. Marisa is a California native who learned quilting from her mother at a young age and doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon. Her aesthetic is deeply rooted in an appreciation for Japanese textiles. She enjoys designing applique blocks and teaching traditional techniques of applique, piecing, and quilting to modern quilters. Marisa likes to talk about her love of quilts, both American and Japanese, in her blog: Quilt Otaku.


  1. Wow, wow, wow! I'm impressed how well she uses the prints.

  2. Marisa has always bright ideas and these modern houses will give inspiration to many quilters !

  3. These are really impressive blocks - thanks for sharing! I too am inspired by Japanese textiles.

  4. Very creative and unique creation. I love you for this.

  5. nice idea.. thanks for sharing.


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