Quilting is both a craft and an art form admired and mysterious for many. Starting a quilt is intimidating and anxiety inducing for even the most experienced of quilters. Now imagine Debbie. Debbie is a 53 year old semi-retired woman who is a hobbyist quilter and for her latest quilt project, she has raided her stash, finding a beautiful burgundy patterned fabric with flowers in every shade of red, blue, green, violet, and even orange. Where does she begin? How does she choose what fabric goes with her floral burgundy the best without spending hours in the fabric shop debating back and forth? How much fabric does she need to buy for her project with out winding up with a bunch leftover that she doesn't know if she'll use again? What size does she need to make her blocks? How should she cut her fabric for this project? What quilting motifs and thread color would look best for this quilt?

As a quilter, I too, often ask these questions. I have tried using quilt design apps and websites, but become frustrated that they are clunky difficult to use, and often proprietary to a particular fabric manufacturer. I and my fellow quilters desire to unleash our creativity at square one, rather than fight against the fear and anxiety that currently resides there. The biggest barrier to entry for those interested in quilt is the anxiety around where to start. Square 1 is designed to alleviate this stress and anxiety around the 'square 1' of quilting, enabling experienced quilters to quickly get to work and welcoming new inexperienced quilters to our colorful world.

What it does

Square 1 at its core frees quilters from clunky, poorly designed and proprietary user interfaces. It allows app users wanting to make a quilt, like Debbie, to take photos of fabric (whether in-store or in-stash) and upload it to a quilt block template. Users of the app are then able to manipulate the fabric placement in the template and test other fabric swatches to figure out what fabrics look best for their quilt. After designing their sample block and settling on their fabric choices, users can then preview a computer generated full quilt mock up to see what the final project is likely to look like. The preview will also auto-calculate and provide the necessary amount of fabric that quilters would need to purchase to create their quilt (including calculating seam allowances).

How we built it

Given the time constraints and relative skills sets on our team, we started with some brief consumer research and competitor analyses. We then built a simple wireframe and prototypes to grasp at the essence of this app and experimented with different types of code, mostly HTML, Java, and JavaScript. Our coder used Eclipse and to test our code, and searched for resources explaining how to draw shapes and how to fill shapes with both solid color and with textures.

Challenges we ran into

Our team's greatest challenge was that we collectively had very little coding experience and were trying to learn a lot of new syntax and software in a very short amount of time. Another challenge was that it was not immediately clear which coding software would be best for the prototype we wanted to create, so we ended up splitting time between more than one software.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

In such a short amount of time our team was able to establish a sense of a real market need for this type of app and we were able to develop some of the building blocks for future work on this concept. Our team also remained motivated and passionate throughout the project. Though our team did not end up managing to finish a successful code, we did learn more about how to use different coding software and how to distinguish between the different syntax.

What we learned

Among other things, we learned that JavaScript and Java are different coding systems. Our coder also learned some of the basic syntax for HTML and JavaScript, and how to start a project in Eclipse.

What's next for Square 1

The final goal for Square 1 is to develop a fully customizable quilt design app assistant. In addition to front end development, future developments for Square 1 include fabric cutting and color palette suggestion functions, allowing users to upload and convert photos to quilt patterns, overlay quilting stitch motifs, and compare quilting thread color comparison options. Users will be able to develop their own libraries of designs, color palettes, and virtual fabric stashes. Users would also be able to upload information about their scrap stashes and have patterns suggested to them to best use up their scraps. The app could be used in fabric stores to let users save fabric information for future reference, via scanning a barcode for example. Additionally, users would be able to share their projects from the app to social media and see how others have used similar templates, color palettes, or fabrics.

In essence, Square 1 lets users start their quilt projects at Square 2.

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