Parking Garage Quilt for Project Modern Challenge

The Modern Quilt Guild is sponsoring Project Modern, a year-long series of fun quilting challenges. Challenge #1, the Inspiration Challenge, is simply to make a quilt based on the inspiration of your choice.

The announcement of this challenge was all it took to get me started on a design I had been thinking about since the first of the year. Back in January, I took these photos of the parking garage adjoining the historic Sears building in Midtown. I thought the motif just screamed to be made into a quilt.

Parking garage

A lot of people hate this garage and call it a “mid-century monstrosity” because it doesn’t match the art deco style of the massive Sears Building. They’re right- it doesn’t. The store itself is an elegant structure, one of nine comparable mail-order and retail centers erected nationally by Sears Roebuck & Company between 1910 and the beginning of the Great Depression. The parking garage was added later.


My dad told me that he loved to go to Sears with his mom because they had rows and rows of shiny new baseball bats and gloves. Sadly, this building has sat empty for two decades despite several attempts at redevelopment. But improvements in the neighborhood make it much more likely that something can be done when the economy rebounds.

parking garage tail

I began by taking this close up shot of the concrete forms. Then I enlarged the photo so that only one repeat of the design was visible. From there, I printed it out and enlarged it a little more at the copy shop so that the lantern shapes were 12″ tall. I cut paper templates from the copies, transferred them to template plastic and started cutting my fabric.

I am using leftovers from the summer block swap quilt. The prints are cut from thrifted clothing and the sashing is Handspray by RJR Fabrics. This quilt will be about 54″ x 70″ and I’ll use the quilt-as-you-go method to quilt it. There is no way I am dragging such a large swath of fabric through my home machine! The backing will probably be a vintage sheet.

Here are a few of the 26 lantern blocks I have completed. I love them!

a few blocks for the parking garage quilt

I’ll keep you updated as this project progresses.

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11 Responses to “Parking Garage Quilt for Project Modern Challenge”

  1. LJ Says:

    Wondering how this is coming along…. I hope you are participating in the Blogging Quilt Festival!

  2. Royce Says:

    Love your parking garage pattern. Can’t wait to see it completed.

  3. Gwen Says:

    What a wonderful idea. At least this “interesting building” is for something good. And I must say I much prefer your rendition of it! Quilt-as-you-go is a great idea for big blocks (my own experience!). Take care.

  4. Lynsey Says:


  5. Audra Says:

    You are so creative!

  6. Sarah's sister Says:

    Pure Awesomeness! The color palette you chose is perfection.

  7. losabia Says:

    You are much, much, to cool for school, Sarah! I love the inspiration, your fabric, and your execution so far! Can’t wait to hear more about your quilting as you go, as I am not a big fan of basting normally, and certainly not when there are toddler fingers and feet around the house!

  8. amber Says:

    so far, so lovely, sarah. i love the slice of memphis you represent.

  9. Erica M. Says:

    Love it! Can’t wait to see the final product.

    Is that the Sears building in Chicago? Jonny’s great-grandfather was a type-setter for them in the early 1900s. It’s a great building.

  10. liveparadox Says:

    That’s way cool. 🙂

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