#SOLSC21: Mathing

“Hello,” I said as I crossed the threshold. Two different detours had made me late. I had thirty five minutes. Timing was going to be everything. I practically danced my way in: one bag carrying two completed items and a second bag with plans that needed some encouragement, some revision, and some clarification.

“In here,” said Barb as I made my way to the first cutting table where she met me. As she oohed and ahed over the first item, I could barely hold my excitement.

And then I unfolded my second ever.

My second ever quilt.

She helped me choose fabrics. She agreed with me that floral elephants weren’t our cup of tea so we changed it. Peach? not so much. What about blue? We seemed in sync three months ago when we first envisioned this pattern in its physical form.

Once the Christmas gifts were sewn, I transitioned to planning for Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. I didn’t have a lot of luck finding fabric for the Derby so it was time to sew.

And sew I did. Straight lines. Rows of squares. Seven rows of ten five inch squares each. Two rows repeated exactly. But I read the rows vertically and horizontally so that no one square was repeated too often. And then hourglass patterns. Five different yellow fabrics and five different blue fabrics. Patterns. Repetitions. More patterns.

Barb asked my permission to take pictures of it, and of course I said yes. After all, the first part of today’s business was “Show and Tell.”

Quilt #2

As I examined the quilt hanging there, some old memories resurfaced.

Quilting day with relatives from Dad’s family . . .

I still remember crawling under the quilting frame as we played while the elders quilted. The long boards held the quilt on top of wooden sawhorses that were spread across from each other. How close to the action were we? I remember that my hair was sewn to a quilt on more than one occasion. Food? Drink? Other kids? It must have been before I was school age!

Once the celebration was over, our attention quickly turned to the next project, my questions, and my concerns. Quickly capturing the ideas on the computer showed me one way that the next quilt might go.

I still enjoy viewing hand pieced quilts but I can’t see myself ever agreeing to sew one by hand (with out any machines or modern tools). Sewing pieces together with a machine involves a variety of skills that seem to ebb and flow with each project and enough complexity for my mind.

The math involved:

measuring, measuring, and measuring again. Each seam, Each row. Each column. Each section. And then piecing the elephants. My most complicated work to date. A square becomes a triangle. Two triangles equal a square . . . Measuring for the binding. Halving distances. 45 degree angles on corners. So many numbers. And the patterns. Yes to a pattern here. No to a pattern here. Some organized randomness. Counting. Counting. Counting.

And yet I’m embarking on the next task. A graduation quilt. From a baby to a six and a half foot young man. Adding to the pattern. Adding to the fabric. Mathing again!

How does math intersect with your life? When are you surprised by the ways that math becomes a part of your life? Is math a big part of your REAL life?


Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for this daily forum during the month of March. Check out the writers and readers here.

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10 responses

  1. Fran, this is beautiful! I considered taking up quilting at the start of the pandemic, but I did not. With two new grand babies it seemed something I should consider. Like you, I can remember the significance of quilting in my childhood. I have never seen the quilting day activities you describe, but my grandma quilted relentlessly. I sat beside her day after day as she quilting, threading needles for her, and chatting about life.

    What an accomplishment!

    1. Thanks, Cathy. Never as simple as I once thought! So many different kinds of work in quilting! LOL

  2. This is so beautiful. I love the way you flashback to memories swimming to the top; how you describe with such endearment in artistry this dancing into the space, the gasping, the musicality of bringing this meaningful quilt to life. There’s a lyrical nature to your descriptions, Fran. Yet you ended with “mathing” and measurements, quantifiable and sturdy. Concrete and accurate, stuff we can control.
    We can’t control the passing of time- the babies turned 6 feet love bugs- but we can control these gorgeously manipulated squares. The juxtaposition of math and artistry struck me. Xxx

    1. The design, moving beyond the pattern, is exhilarating as well as terrifying. What if? Can cause doubt and uncertainty. Or freedom to create ( within some mathematical roles).

      Thanks for reading, for commenting and for encouraging, Nawal.

  3. Your Slice is so enticing…from the incredible descriptive details in your words, to the details on that beautiful quilt, to the intricacies of how math weaves through it all (like your thread). I am impressed with it all. Thank you.

    1. You are welcome. It was a slice that had yo sit and wait in order to find its way!

  4. Having experienced the joy of receiving a lovingly made quilt for my children from cherished family members, thinking about your experiences and the love you are pouring into these projects was a warm thought.

    As an educator, I appreciated your thought about math intersecting your life. This is something I continue to look for to make math more authentic for my students. I’m a writer and a reader and a student of history. Occasionally I’m a scientist. Seeing myself as a mathematician is more difficult but you’ve cracked a window.

    1. Thanks, Tim! A quilt is often a declaration of joy and love.

      Literacy has been my life’s work, but math has made it possible. Time takes math. Travel takes math. Managing income and expenses takes math. How much time to write “x”? Estimate. Match. Readjust.Do I need more time? What can I buy with $1? Is it the same at Casey’s? Dollar Store? Kroger’s? Comparison shopping for snacks!

  5. Love your quilt, Fran. Blue definitely works. As you state, measuring is so important in a quilt to make sure that points match and seams line up. Kathy did make a few quilts that were hand pieced. One is a grandmother’s flower garden – all hexagons and the other is a lazy daisy – all curved pieces. Time consuming, but beautiful finished quilt tops.

    1. Matching. Alignment. Measuring.
      Yay, Kathy! I can only imagine the work in hand sewing a quilt!

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