Sound Quilt




Introduction: Sound Quilt

About: Maker, Mom & Teacher...

My husbands Grandfather has a birthday coming up, he'll be turning 92!!
He has a super attitude towards aging, recently though, he has been losing his eye sight.
It has been a HUGE stumbling block for him, and he's having a hard time coping... 

I created this sound quilt for him, hoping to convey our love for him, and engage his other senses.
Making this has forced me to explore some of my other senses, and my hope is that it will challenge you in similar ways.

Push the buttons sewn in to the blocks and sounds and quotes come alive!

The blocks are made of very different types of fabric, some soft, some rough,
some woven and some stretchy, so that he could distinguish them by touch.

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Step 1: Feel Your Way Thought the Fabric Store

This part took perhaps more time than I expected, but was a really interesting experience. 

I walked down aisle at the fabric store, closing my eyes sometimes, just looking away others, and just tried to feel the fabrics. I was immediately drawn to the soft fleeces, and the luxurious velvet (bought a really small piece of that). But the quilt couldn't feel all the same, so I also found some suede, and synthetics, and at home I added denim, and burlap from a rice bag for a rough texture.

Not only did I want the feels to be different, but I wanted the colors to be contrasty enough when placed next to each other, so that the Grandpa could still use the little bit of eyesight he has. 

So in total I have 9 different feeling fabrics.  And a larger piece of fabric to use for the back and border. 

Also needed for the sewing portion:
  • cotton batting
  • ruler
  • Velcro (less than an inch)
  • safety pins
  • sewing machine (although it would be beautiful by hand)
  • scissors

Step 2: Sew the Blocks Together

1) Cut out the blocks in to even squares,  (Mine are 5.5 inches)

2) Lay out the squares how you would like them to be in the quilt.
I tried to place tactilely different fabric adjacent to each other, while still creating an interesting visual pattern..

3) Sew one row at a time.
  • Take one square, and place it on it's neighbor (good sides facing)
  • Sew the two together with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance (that means about a 1/4 inch from the edge)
  • Sew the next  neighbor in that row in the same fashion
4) Press your fabric  
Iron it, on the highest setting it can go, and with water if possible. Be cautious with velvet's, and fleece, they can not be ironed as hot as cotton. Pressing makes your seams look pretty!

5)  Sew the rows together
Once you have completed each row, sew it to the next one, again insuring the nice sides are facing each other while  sewing.

Full Disclosure: for those of you with a sharp eye you will notice I accidentally sewed my pieces together wrong, I went back and changed it, as I wanted the denim in the corner ;-) 

Step 3: Sewing the Border

This was a little challenging, and I'm sure real quilters have a cool trick for it, but here's my version of a border with triangular corners.

1) Cut 4 strips
They should be the length of the quilt plus at least  twice the width of the strips.

2) Sew 2 of the strips on either side of the quilt (1/4 inch seam allowance)

3) Sew the second 2 strips on
  • Be sure to only start sewing where the first strips seam is.
  • Stop sewing where the other strips seam is. 
  • You should notice the seams meeting on the back of your fabric

4) Fold the strip you added second, under at a 45 degree angle.
  • Pin it
  • Mark it
  • Sew it & trim it
5) Remember pressing makes everything look nice!

Step 4: Quilt Back

The quilt back, needs a little battery pocket in order to be able to access the battery pack. We'll make that now.

1) Cut the fabric for the back of the quilt, a little larger than the front of the quilt.
(in most regular quilts they would be the same size but the sound buttons are fat, so it's good to be cautious)

2) Mark/ pin where the back of the battery pack will end up.

3) Cut a fabric square slightly larger than the area you just marked. 
I made it big enough to end up in the side seam, so it would be easy to keep it in place, while working with everything else.

4) Cut out of the same material a piece about 4 x 5 inches.
This will make a flap to hide the battery pack, and insure it doesn't slip out.

5) Sew the Flap
  • Fold the flap in half  (so it's 4 x 2.5)
  • Sew along 2 of the sides, and half of the third
  • Trim the corners
  • Flip it inside out
  • Sew along all 3 sides again, while keeping the side that had a bit of a hole turned under.
6) Sew on a small piece of Velcro

7) Position the flap on the backing fabric and sew it in place. 

8) Sew another piece of Velcro on to the backing fabric to match the piece you put on the flap.

9) Sew a rectangular space using the Zig Zag stitch wide enough to fit your battery pack.
, Then cut a slit in the middle of it.  

Step 5: Sew the Front and Back

1) Layer all 3 pieces on on top of another.
Insure that the pretty sides are facing each other. 
(Battery pocket piece, quilt backing, and quilt front.)

2) Pin them

3) Sew around the perimeter leaving the one side open.

4) Cut 2 layers of cotton batting, 1/4 inch smaller than the seams of the quilt.

5) Press the  quilt, turn it inside out,
place the batting inside insuring it gets nice and flat.
( I can hear the quilters cringing... but I tell you it did work ;-)   ) 

Step 6: Soldering the Sound Buttons

Repeat after me... soldering is not hard.  Soldering is not scary. Soldering is fun!
Repeat again. 

Ok for this next part you will need:
  • Soldering iron
  • wire
  • solder
  • wire cutters & wire strippers (if you have them ;-) )
  • heat shrink tubing 
  • 8 sound buttons
  • 1 battery pack
We got the sound buttons on line they are called recording modules:

1) Cut the connection to the battery pack.
We want to use one battery pack for the whole quilt.

2) Cut a number of wires to travel between each of the sound buttons (red and black about 5 inches long).
Also cut 2 strips (one red,one black) about a foot long, to go to the battery pack.

3) Strip the wires about 1/8 - 1/4 inch from the ends

4) Put a little bit of solder on the ends of the wires.
Touch the hot soldering iron to the wire, and put the solder against the wire, and the tip of the soldering iron. The solder will flow over the wires. Move the soldering iron, and solder together along the exposed wire.

5) Solder 2 wires to the the end of the +'ve wire coming out of the sound button.
One wire will go to the battery pack, and the other wire will go to the next sound button.  (Hint: Sometimes you will need to put some of the heat shrink tubing over the wires before you solder them, slide them out of the way... and when you are done slide them in to place to heat and shrink them).

6) Do the same for the -'ve side.
Solder a wire to the battery pack, and one for the next button.

7) Put the heat shrink tubing in place.

8) Using a heat gun shrink the tubing.

See the diagram to connect all the wires. They all need to be connected in parallel, so they can operate with out the others being turned on.  The diagram has 4 sound buttons in the drawing, but it is the same principle for eight, as they all connect  the same except for the last one.

FYI:  We bought 2 that could record for 60 seconds... and 6 that could record for 10 seconds. The 10 second ones did not have a separate battery pack attached.  So the wires got soldered to the + & -'ve terminals inside.

Step 7: Final Assembly

Get your friends and family together, and record the sounds, we did a combination of sweet and silly ones.

1) decide which sound should go where

2)  Lay out your wire assembly on top of the quilt to help you visualize where the wires will go.

3) Place the battery compartment holder  between the back of the fabric and the smaller fabric square.

4) Cut a slit from the side, though a bit of the fabric square and ONE layer of the batting. Run your wire through that slit.

5) Layout all of the sound buttons between the 2 layers of batting, keep their wires from getting tangles, and remember you want one under each square.

6) Put a safety pin through the quilt where the wires cross from one square to the next, be sure to get the wires inside the safety pin.

7) Top stitch around the quilt, and between all the rows and columns.  Be careful not to stitch through any wires. I found I could feel them fairly easily. When you come to a safety pin.... back stitch for a couple pf stitches, and then lift up your needle, and start sewing again on the other side of the pin. It's a good idea to back stitch on that side as well. 

8) remove all the safety pins

9) Sew the last side closed by hand. 


Step 8: Enjoy!

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    8 Discussions


    8 years ago on Step 8

    Good for you, your husband's grand father looks happy as can be with his new quilt. You should be proud of yourself!


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 8

    He really was :-)
    And family really liked helping making all the sounds!
    Thank you.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I don't make quilts and barely sew, but I was looking through the competition for this month's contest and read your beautifully written Instructable. It is easy to understand, has great photos and seems complete in every detail. More importantly, it was done for the right reasons.

    The best of luck to you in the Monthly Challenge.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you SOOOO much for that comment. I try hard to make these projects fun & reproducible, and often wonder, how well I've managed. :-)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is wonderful! Nicely done.

    Though I don't believe what you say about soldering ;)