Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Building Blocks (Part 1)

Who needs math? I remember arguments with my parents over doing useless algebra equations and geometry exercises. I remember my absolute certainty I would never need those word problems in the real world. And who would ever need to know how to draw a stupid parallelogram or enlarge a triangle?

Then I became a quilter. I don’t want to mention the number of times I’ve muttered “a squared plus b squared equals c squared… now add a quarter inch seam allowance.” Knowing math means being able to figure out how to take that tiny complicated block and grow it up into a larger still-complicated-but-I-don’t-have-to-make-as-many block. God bless math.

Dissecting quilt blocks to their core units allows me to recognize patterns, repeating shapes that are used and reused in different blocks. This is particularly obvious with the curved seam unit that is used to construct the block known as Drunkard’s Path. Four of those units put together one way make Robbing Peter to Pay Paul, while sixteen units laid out completely differently make Wonder of the World. I can see from a quick dip into my favorite reference books that there are many more possibilities as well.

What are my favorite reference books?
849 Traditional Patchwork Patterns by Susan W. Mills, The Quilter’s Album of Blocks and Borders by Jinny Beyer, Carrie Hall Blocks by Bettina Havig, and The Art of Classic Quiltmaking by Harriet Hargrave and Sharyn Craig.

What other quilt blocks use this quarter circle unit?
Wait and see.


My dear, few, readers you inspire me to keep writing. Thank you.

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