SciQuilt – It Begins With The Biome


June 7, 2020 by Dr. G

This is a video I created about the quilt and its background. Enjoy and share!


Quilt Update! See the bottom of this post for Version 2.0!

My inspiration for this quilt came from an unexpected event – a virtual podcast discussion about world biomes.

Since the pandemic and the temporary closure of a local arboretum, a Penn State Brandywine colleague and I have been hosting biweekly Zoom sessions with members of Tyler Arboretum and our campus community on nature-themed podcasts from our curated listening lists (see my AGU blog post on these events). The topic of discussion on June 3rd was World Biomes, and it was suggested one of our regular session participants. On our feedback form, when asked for suggestions about topics for future weeks, she shared that world biomes would be a good topic, as there’s a “pointlessness of saving the pandas if you don’t start by saving the biome.”

And we had a great discussion among our 13 participants that logged in for the hour-long session. Towards the end, many of the attendees were focusing on what we can do, what are the next steps that each of us can take. Keeping in mind the “pointlessness of pandas” and thinking what action I could individually take, I decided to make a quilt.

Before the pandemic hit, I recalled going to the local Joann’s fabric store and seeing several flannel fabrics that said “save the dolphins” and “save the sea turtles.” I thought this might be an interesting fabric to tie in to the message of starting with the biome. So I ordered some fabrics online and created my first pandemic quilt, dedicated to the ocean biome.

The center of the quilt represents the biome, containing images of plants and animals from the ocean. Then around the center square are the messages of saving various animals that are popular with people (dolphins, sea turtles, belugas). I intentionally have the words pointing outward from the center square, again emphasizing the focus in the center and then moving out. The border is a mermaid scale fabric – just a fun pattern and adding a little more splash of color.

The quilt was made over two days with my own pattern. My lines aren’t the straightest, and the fabrics may not have been laid out in the best way, but I think the message comes through – start with the biome, then focus on saving the animals. I look forward to sharing the quilt with others and discussing more the importance of biomes.

The back of the quilt is entirely the ocean biome fabric. The quilt was completed on June 6, 2020.

I’ve been creating a series of quilts about “stitching hope for the coast”, but this could be part of a “stitching hope for the ocean” collection, as by having a healthy ocean biome, we can have a healthy environment for all plants and animals that exist in that biome.

UPDATE —  I have created Version 2.0 of this quilt. There was a fourth flannel fabric I was looking for originally when I started planning the quilt, but it was sold out online and at the local JoAnn Fabric Store. So with the three “Save the…” species fabrics and the ocean one, I designed the quilt you see pictured above. Unfortunately, the design didn’t quite come out the way I had originally hoped. This is the first time I’ve ever gone back and re-created a quilt because I didn’t like the finished product. Finally, after a drive 1.5 hours away(!) to another JoAnn store that had the fabric I so wanted to include, I was able to produce a quilt I am much happier with.

This quilt measures 40 inches by 40 inches and was completed September 20, 2020. The back of this quilt has a different fabric than the original one, as I was not able to purchase more of the ocean system flannel. Instead, I went with the mermaid-scale pattern that was also used for the binding.

Quilt with ocean fabrics

mermaid fabric on the back of a quilt

3 thoughts on “SciQuilt – It Begins With The Biome

  1. Tanya Dapkey says:

    Love it Dr. G!


  2. […] modelled after a science story I already designed with fabric. One of my favorite quilts has been It Begins with the Ocean Biome, as the spark for this story came from someone in the Philly Pod of 500 Women Scientists. These […]


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