SciQuilt – Project Drawdown

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July 27, 2019 by Dr. G

This is a video I made about this quilt and its background – enjoy and share!

Drawdown is the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and then start to steadily decline, ultimately reversing global warming. — from Project Drawdown website

In Summer 2019, I was extremely fortunate to be able to serve as a faculty mentor to one of the 55 undergraduate student researchers selected to be a part of the Project Drawdown REU at Penn State University (my Drawdown Scholar is a rising sophomore at Penn State Brandywine, a food science major that worked on a project to generated Pennsylvania-themed podcasts addressing efforts in the state to reverse global warming).

During the first day of Drawdown orientation, each student and faculty/staff in the room (and on Zoom) were asked to introduce themselves and reveal a “superpower” they have, or unusual skill/experience. I shared that I crochet science data and quilt science stories. The reaction from the students in the room was exciting for me to hear, and it inspired me to think of my own project during this Project Drawdown summer. I decided to create a quilt that highlights the eight sectors (the broad categories that solutions are grouped in to, where each solution reduces greenhouse gases by avoiding emissions and/or by sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere).

The eight sectors are represented by the fabrics in this slideshow:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Links to additional information about these sectors on the Project Drawdown website:

Buildings and Cities, Electricity Generation, Food, Land Use, Materials and Waste, Ocean, Transportation, Women and Girls

For the quilt, I decided to use a Sudoku pattern from McCall’s QuickQuilts Magazine (November 2006). I used the Penn State Drawdown REU logo and created a fabric with the image at The other fabrics were purchased at Jo-Ann’s and online at Spoonflower.


I felt the Sudoku pattern was appropriate, with Sudoku known as a challenging puzzle. It is one where multiple options must be explored to reach a solution, but a solution can be achieved. Each of these sectors are contained in the solution but relate to the other sectors in different ways within each of the nine blocks (meaning, are in a different position and may be more closely related/adjacent to each other than in the other blocks).

The pattern of each fabric matches each sector. The blue and white for the borders are Penn State colors. Both fabrics have a “cracked” pattern. The outer white fabric has a lighter color for the cracking, making it harder to see and what represents to me the closer we are coming to solutions and healing the planet. How are we reaching those solutions? Through the efforts of the 55 Drawdown Scholars that completed their research at Penn State this summer. The students are getting us closer to solving the puzzle! This is why the students have signed around the border of the quilt.


The backing fabric is a global print, representing that global warming is a global challenge and takes a global effort to reach drawdown.


This is my story of Drawdown – a challenge that has a solution, but we may need to spend some time and think about different ways and combinations to approach the solution before reaching it.




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