Using Fibonacci Numbers in Quilt Patterns

Now that I’ve published my first Fibonacci quilt pattern based on Fibonacci math, I’ve been asked why and how I started using Fibonacci Math in creating a quilt design.

I was introduced to Fibonacci number series by a quilt colleague who was intrigued by how this number series might add other options for block design.  We had several conversations and she helped me understand the sequence and how it work.  We both played with some designs and this is a design I created using this sequence.

Fibonacci Numbers Series

So, who was Fibonacci and what are Fibonacci numbers?

This number series was introduced to Western scholars by the Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, known as Fibonacci.  The formula looks very complicated, but here’s how it works.

Fibonacci numbers are very simple.  It is a series of numbers in which each number is created as the sum of the two preceding numbers.

Start with 1.

Add 1 + 1 = 2

Add 2 to 1.   1 + 2 = 3

Add 3 to 2.   2 + 3 = 5

Add 3 to 5.   3 + 5 = 8

And so on into infinity…….

Using Fibonacci Numbers to design quilt blocks

Here is a Wikipedia image of the basic Fibonacci spiral block. This spiral can be found in nature in how some plants brnch off, spirals in seashells and many more places.

This block in a quilt would measure 21″ x 34″.  Several years ago, some designers made quilts using this block.  I think that’s OK, but it is much more fun to be innovative with the design.


When I’m designing Fibonacci blocks, I usually use the numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and 21.   The cool thing is that I can use these proportions to divide any block into segments very easily as long as I use combinations of 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 13 as my measurements.

Here is the basic block from the Fibonacci #1 pattern.  you could use the number series to easily subdivide any section of this block.  For example, the 5 x 5 block could be subdivided into two rectangles measuring  2″ x 5″ and  3″ x 5″.

And here’s a new version that I’m playing with! Look for a new Fibonacci pattern later this year–it might have some curved blocks too!

Using Fibonacci Numbers to design quilt patterns

Here’s the cool thing about these numbers.  I can also use these numbers to create alternate grid layouts as well without (usually) having to fool with Y seams.  Here’s a peek at a sample I made in EQ8. All blocks were designed using numbers in the sequence.

Careful color placement can also give you secondary patterns.

Also, this process is interesting because the quilt will look improvisational but it’s actually carefully planned.



6 thoughts on “Using Fibonacci Numbers in Quilt Patterns”

  1. Elizabeth A. Franck

    Carole: Thank you for sharing your creative thinking and design explorations. I remember learning about Fibonacci Numbers when I was working on my B.A. in Art History and Art at the Univ. of Il, C/U, many years ago. I have always remembered that a cross-section of a Nautilus shell is a clear example of this Principle. While I have never taken any of your classes or workshops, (did buy one of your books). I found you online when I was exploring Modern Quilts Guilds on the Gulf Coast of Florida. God willing, I will be relocating to the area within a couple of years.

    In Rockford, Illinois, the Rockford Area Modern Art Guild, several years – new, is actively looking to develop programing and expand membership. Om March 17th, we are sponsoring our first quarterly – Saturday – full-day (9am-5pm) sew-in/workshop – open to all quilters. As a part of the day, we plan to hold a (2-3 hr.) group project where all who attend may participate in creating a modern quilt top for a charitable donation (fabric and designs will be provided). This offers a learning opportunity for anyone interested in exploring modern quilting.

    Your Fibonaci Numbers Concept offers wonderful “food for thought”.


    1. We look forward to having you here in Florida. There are lots of quilters and all types of guilds in the area. We are also very fortunate to have wonderful quilt shops.

      I may have learned something about Fibonacci in school, but don’t remember it. I thank my friend for introducing me to it.

      Have fun playing with the math!

  2. I’m very interested in creating a Fibonacci pieced border for a panel as a wedding gift for a science geek friend. How do you calculate the HST’s and the curves in the blocks? Is it based on area? Thanks for sharing your work. I also live in Florida, and a member of SFMQG. Confess not excited about piecing 1″ squares🙄

    1. Hi Kane, I wish that I could help but I have not undertaken that type of measurement. My pieced borders are always improvisational using fabric left from making the rest of the top.

      To create my fabric measurements, I design pieced blocks in EQ8–it calculates the fabric amounts needed and I test it when I make the test quilt. There are other quilt software products available but I have not used those.

      The ‘traditional’ Fibonacci block is what I assume you are referring to. I did not use that block in my Fibonacci quilt block pattern– it does not start with 1″ squares and the layout is a variation.

      Sorry that I can’t be more help. Carole

      1. Thanks for your speedy reply. I do my designs on graph paper, not that I do much “designing”.
        I’ve done some improv work but not a lot. Just finished kawandi mini quilt from a SujataShah workshop so thinking of doing that style in the border.
        I did see your ABC quilt on the QuiltCon site before I emailed you and must say I was impressed with it. Improv ABC blocks are another area of interest for me. Need to read more as I’m not sure how to even start. Left brained so need to think through to feel comfortable. Probably should do less thinking and more sewing😊

        1. I suggest taking a couple of virtual improv workshops with me or any of the many wonderful online instructors out there now. There is design/planning at different points in improv–and there is also a lot of freedom and discovery.

          Many of my students come from traditional piecing backgrounds and I support them in discovering a different way of creating a quilt.

          I also think that reading about improv is best supported with visual learning (seeing others in action) and making and experimenting. That’s another reason I suggest taking a virtual or in person workshop.

          Brain dominance just means that you bring a different set of skills to improv.

          Welcome to Improv!!

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