Shared Joy is Twice the Joy, Shared Pain is Half the Pain

Menger Sponges

Since Erin’s second son was born earlier this week, Congratulations are in order, and I can finally put this post, which I first wrote last summer, online. So, congratulations, Erin! Can’t wait to get to meet him. 🙂

Remember my circus quilt for my (then) to-be niece? Well, afterwards, I made her big brother Jacob a Menger sponge, which is basically a three-dimensional version of a Sierpinski carpet, which is one of my favorite fractals ever. Someday I’m going to make a quilt just like this one, from Anabeth Dollins:

Hers is 41.5″ square, but I think I’d make a full or queen sized quilt when I get around to this crazy endeavor. But I digress.

A fractal, for those of you who doesn’t know, is a series of iterations. They are mathematically and visually beautiful, and I’ve been obsessed since seventh grade, when I was first introduced. The Koch Snowflake, here on the left, begins with a simple equilateral triangle. Imagine pulling the center of each side out, to create a new triangle. Now you have a six pointed star, with twelve sides instead of three. If you repeat this process for all twelve sides, now you have 48 sides. If you continue this forever, you get the shape below, with an infinite perimeter but a finite area.

But back to the Menger sponge. I created just the first iteration of the sponge, and I used a tutorial found on Miss Gioia’s blog, here.


For Jacob’s sponge, I used fabrics out of the baby blanket scrap. The animals (monkey, lion, elephant, and turtle) are off the quilt backing, and the blues are from the balloons/balls/hoop on the front. I did alter the pattern Miss Gioia used to utilize all six blues and the four animals. It isn’t so hard though, as long you lay out the entire cube before you start pinning/sewing to make sure the pattern is right. Additionally, I sewed the edges slightly differently, to give the cube a bit more texture. When I first made Jacob his rocket ship quilt, he apparently loved Saturn’s rings because of their texture, so I figured I’d give him texture in this gift too!

Since the first one was so easy, I decided to make another one. Because why not? I had a sneaking suspicion Erin was pregnant, and wanted to make a fun but math-themed present for baby #2 that wasn’t a quilt. (Because her mom makes my quilts look like child’s play, which they basically are.) So I decided to make them a Menger cube as well. But this one was more fun and more crazy because it had seven cubes. A fractal, we already know, is repeated over and over again. So that’s what I did.

Let’s just say it was a long process. I started with the same sized pieces, just in a rainbow color scheme.


I sewed it all together, took some time to stick it on my head, and to have a minor fight against my project. (I won.)

I then repeated the process for six baby cubes. So tiny that my fingers barely fit inside to sew the inside seams together.


Can you find them?


They nestle conveniently into the big cube’s holes.


My mom thought I was crazy as I was making them, and I probably am. But all in all, it was good fun, and I can’t wait to see Erin’s two sons throwing Menger sponges at each other during playtime!


2 responses

  1. Ann

    okay, totally amazing. I don’t think I’d ever ever have the patience, let alone the imagination. But if I should ever have another grandchild (which I won’t) I might try it! congratulations!

    March 11, 2014 at 4:56 pm

  2. Anita

    Wow! Seems like most people I know are either mathy or crafty but very few are both. Nice job!

    March 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm

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