As a full-time municipal traffic engineering technician for the city of Ventura, California, Derek Towers is constantly creating patterns that impact the public. He controls where striping divides the streets, how sidewalk curbs are painted, traffic sign placement, and even where red-light enforcement cameras are deployed at busy intersections.
But at the end of his shift, Towers focuses on dramatically different patterns: the kind you find at your local fabric store.
“I recently found out a large number of fellow engineers are into quilting,” says Towers, who dove into the hobby just six months ago. “Quilting has such a similar feel to drafting. It almost feels like drafting on cloth.”
“I like to mess around with geometric shapes and love experimenting with different layouts,” he adds.
Towers first connected with his engineering colleagues, most of them female, on the online Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild forum. He attends monthly “weekend sew” meetings at a Santa Barbara community center to share ideas and learn new techniques.
His recently completed first quilt — nine panels of spirals composed from squares and triangles — was designed in DraftSight, a professional-grade free 2D CAD product from Dassault Systèmes, before the first stitch.
“DraftSight helps me envision the final product better before starting to invest in the materials. I enjoy the precision of it. I must have tried 10 different configurations before making up my mind. On my next project, I’ll mess around a lot more,” Towers says.