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A line of quilts based on topography of parks and urban landscapes
April 22, 2013 10:32 PM   Subscribe

TopoQuilts These customized quilts bring together the line work of topographical maps along with the tradition and elegance of widecloth cotton quilts. These heirloom quality quilts reference the topography of specific landscapes and places which often hold a specific memory or meaning to the person who has commissioned the work.
posted by badego (26 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those are really cool. I'm about to finish a quilt and have it sent to my (mom's) friendly neighborhood machine quiltist to add the - freehand - quilting. I love the idea of a topo-specific finish. It would be perfect for a quilt created for a specific area.
posted by bendy at 11:21 PM on April 22, 2013


This is a really cool idea... for the geography nerd who likes warm snuggly things! WANT!
posted by Jughead at 1:00 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of Soft Cities, a company that makes custom blankets printed with your choice of map area. And searching for that led me to this company that makes "soft maps" - more map quilts! And then there are these lovely topographic-style paper cards.
posted by dreamyshade at 1:06 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've seen her work on exhibit at Wave Hill in the Bronx. It was more tufty and art more than quilt at that point. This stuff is neat.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:49 AM on April 23, 2013


Oh, that is cool.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:21 AM on April 23, 2013


The "mapkins" at Soft Cities look really cool and I think my wife would love a set from $CITY. But $80 for a set of 4 napkins???
posted by DU at 4:41 AM on April 23, 2013


Pretty much yeah. $20 a napkin means in all likelihood the person making them is getting something like a living wage. Mitered corners take a little work with your actual hands, so I can see taking an hour to knock one out between pressing, sewing, and finishing.
posted by clavicle at 4:57 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


My birthday's coming up. Just sayin'.
posted by desjardins at 5:02 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Talk about inflation. Downed pilots used to make do with a handkerchief map. Want one of these.
posted by arcticseal at 5:09 AM on April 23, 2013


$20 a napkin means in all likelihood the person making them is getting something like a living wage.

Plus PoD fabric ain't that cheap, plus downtime (I doubt they're making napkins 8 hours a day) and overheads. I wonder if "order of magnitude cheaper" is a good rule of thumb for most mass-production...
posted by Leon at 5:15 AM on April 23, 2013


And yeah, I love the crap out of all of these and I have one of those Crafterall cutout maps hanging on my wall right behind me. I'd seen Haptic before but didn't realize they had DIY kits. There isn't one for my town but hey, I know how to print a Google map, and there are ways of transferring things from paper to fabric.
posted by clavicle at 5:19 AM on April 23, 2013


These are very neat!

The "mapkins" at Soft Cities look really cool and I think my wife would love a set from $CITY. But $80 for a set of 4 napkins???

Making detailed stuff by hand is time consuming. When people charge what their time is worth, it shows. It's sad to see people selling beautiful, hand-knit stuff on Etsy for Walmart prices. They're not making any money for all the time and effort they put into their work, and sometimes I wonder if they're even covering their cost of materials.
posted by usonian at 5:21 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Haptic Lab does something similar.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:32 AM on April 23, 2013


Whoops, dreamyshade already linked.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:33 AM on April 23, 2013


I'm not looking for WalMart prices. But most of that work has got to be being done by a printer. Let's say the person is earning $40/hr, so that's 2 hrs total. Take the printing time out (although they could print "off the clock" as it's another employee, but they need to charge for ink and so forth, so let the printer earn the same rate.) So then we've got about 1.5 hours to finish the arrow-straight edges of 4 napkins? That seems pretty high if you've got a sewing machine. I remember my mom getting most or all of a shirt done in an afternoon and that's a LOT more work.

All that said, I'd be OK with a special gift price of $20 for a mapkin. I'm less OK with being forced to buy 4 of them.
posted by DU at 5:43 AM on April 23, 2013


They're not making any money for all the time and effort they put into their work, and sometimes I wonder if they're even covering their cost of materials.

I think a lot of times they aren't. I'm only familiar with the quilting side, but I know people talk about selling on Etsy as a way of covering the supply costs for something they'd do anyway. (Also, while they're a small percentage of the Etsy market, reasonably popular quilt-bloggers do seem to start getting free fabric for marketing purposes, and need to burn through that free fabric to make items to post in their blogs. Nobody needs 83 baby blankets, so people start selling them. Because their money comes from ads and sponsorships, they don't generally need minimum wage on the retail sale price of the item.)

Most people think you could sell a quilt on Etsy for cost of supplies plus minimum wage, but they're wrong; unless it's an outstanding or unusual item, you'd be lucky if it sold for cost of supplies, because the competition is hobbyists (and a few bloggers) who don't need to make a minimum wage.
posted by pie ninja at 6:03 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, DU... go buy a kit, make it yourself, and then come back and tell us if the price seems more reasonable.

I say this as someone who works as a professional in a textile-related field who took a good hour and a half to cut out and iron pattern pieces for a new project yesterday. Even with economies of scale and speed based on skill, these are not just items you can crank out quickly and efficiently.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:25 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember my mom getting most or all of a shirt done in an afternoon and that's a LOT more work.

Actually, it's about the same as a napkin, all told. Shirts aren't all that complicated (though it can depend); I sewed one up in an hour this weekend. And printing costs are not minimal: my mother often wanted to take her sewing hobby pro. To make a long story short, we had CAD plotters (yeah, plural) in our home, and she figured she had the perfect setup for printing on fabric... until she started looking at inks that would actually keep their color for more than a few months and washes. Very expensive, and that's just the ink. Then she realized that not many people would want to pay the prices she would need to charge just to cover costs. So yeah, $20/napkin does not strike me as all that expensive. Here in my part of France, that's about what quality jacquard-woven napkins cost from well-established local manufacturers.

Love the topography quilts, gorgeous!
posted by fraula at 6:57 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I live around the corner from the wine bar that commissioned the quilts of wine regions, and those pics don't do their work any justice. Very very cool.
posted by JPD at 7:04 AM on April 23, 2013


Huh, I didn't know this was a thing. I've had TopoSheets of Chicago for years. You can get them for all the different neighborhoods. Wicker Park, Wrigleyville, the Loop...

Seriously though, those are way cool!
posted by gueneverey at 9:18 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the Soft Cities webpage:

Watercolor maps truly mix art with technology. Hand painted then scanned into our programming for a rich sense of water and land, each city has its own ethereal take on beauty.

Handcolored and scanned? Yeah, I doubt that...
posted by SAnderka at 9:32 AM on April 23, 2013


Maybe Soft Cities is referring to how the textures for the watercolor maps were painted by hand? The textures get automatically transformed into map tiles, but there was a human hand along the way.
posted by dreamyshade at 10:12 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


My birthday's coming up. Just sayin'.

MeFi Mail your address and something less exciting than a $2600 handcrafted quilt but still topographically related can be sent your way!


What, doesn't everyone keep an emergency stash of nerdy birthday cards?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:25 AM on April 23, 2013


I've had TopoSheets of Chicago for years.

Boy, that took me a minute. Good one!
posted by desjardins at 11:09 AM on April 23, 2013


So then we've got about 1.5 hours to finish the arrow-straight edges of 4 napkins? That seems pretty high if you've got a sewing machine. I remember my mom getting most or all of a shirt done in an afternoon and that's a LOT more work.

But you are also paying for the level of expertise. No offence to DU's mother, but there is a difference between a talented amateur knocking out a couple of shirts over the weekend, and then an artisan sewer making bespoke, limited-number art objects. It is a difference I find difficult to argue sometimes but there is a difference.

I work within the craft industry, and I often get approached by well-meaning people who want me to knit their sister/mother/daughter a cardigan. I tell them what I'd charge (if I still had time to knit to order which I don't, incidentally) and I usually get a sharp intake of breath. But I feel confident in my (hypothetical) price point because I have spent an awful long time getting very, very, very good at what I do.

Society has a weird tendency to devaluate needlecraft skills. You wouldn't ask a concerto pianist to play for minimum wage, would you?
posted by kariebookish at 2:08 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also gorgeous: the art quilts of Leah Evans.
posted by arm's-length at 3:50 AM on April 25, 2013


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