Quilt Math is My Jam

I love Math!

I’m sure a fair number of you are groaning right now or are in complete bafflement that anyone would say such a thing, but it’s true. From the moment we met, Math and I have been best friends. I“get” Math. She helps to make sense of this seemingly random world.

Okay, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic with personifying Math, but truthfully, I’ve always been able to understand numbers.  

Although I really did love working on all the practice problems I was assigned each night in school, I was acutely aware that calculus and physics were not likely to be an everyday skill I would use in the future. However, math is about more than just abstract problems and the numbers; it’s about the logic and relationships between the parts of the whole problem.

I approach quilting in much the same way. In order to create the whole, you must understand how all the pieces connect and interact.

Designing a quilt starts with some geometry. After you decide what you want the general shape of a block to be, you have to figure out what smaller shapes come together to create that block. There’s lots of graph paper involved in my process and it can sometimes feel like I’m playing with tangrams again.

These are some preliminary sketches I did while working on Blooms and Bursts.

After I figure out the shapes, I start assigning dimensions to them. I usually start with the finished dimensions of each piece and then, once I’ve figured out the construction process, I’ll start adding in seam allowances.

Then there’s some algebra to figure out how much fabric I’ll need for a given quilt pattern. And, with any luck, my calculations are correct and the quilt comes out right.

I think it’s this creative application of math that has kept me interested in quilting throughout the years. My old friend, Math, is what now allows me to be able to design and write patterns so that even if math isn’t your thing, quilting still can be.