Many times, I’ve had the thought of starting a series called “Quilting Confessions” where we can all share our little secrets – slicing off our fingertips with rotary cutters, swallowing pins, and sewing through our fingers. I’ve done many ill-conceived and just downright stupid things in the pursuit of quiltiness but one of my ongoing issues has to do with something that I actually used to be good at….math.
I did well in math at school. In college, I took three semesters of engineering calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra. But when I’m designing a quilt, the math can still get the better of me.
I’m fine with the 1/4″. It’s a fraction I can really get behind. Who doesn’t love quarters of all kinds? Fat ones, scant ones, and silver round ones that allow you to briefly purchase complete happiness for a toddler. To my two-year old son, quarters are magical. He very quickly learned that “money coins” buy things from vending machines and make little horses in the grocery store giddyup. Just after Thanksgiving, I let him, for the first time, buy some candy (in the shape of dog bones) from a vending machine and put it into his favorite skeleton covered bucket leftover from Halloween. Yesterday I asked him what he wanted to do for the day. I’m thinking park, library, bounce house, yogurt place, play date with the neighbor. His response? “Go to store and buy dog bone candy. Put in skeleton bucket.” See what I mean? Quarters bring happiness.
My problem is the 1/8 and the truly hated 1/16, When I’m designing a quilt and I have to go to these detestable fractions, I can’t even tell you how many times I have to punch in the keys 7 divided by 8. 3 divided by 8. 5 divided by 8. Because I can’t remember what they are in decimals! And even when I am pretty sure I remember, I still do it just to be safe.
And it goes beyond the designing aspect. I don’t like cutting to the 1/8 of an inch. When I’m using a pattern that calls for let’s say, 3 7/8″ squares, my brain just goes “uggggghhhhhh. 7/8?! Get out of my quilt!” A big part of my disgust is that most of my rulers have terrible marking for the 1/8″ segments. Oh, those tiny specks mark the 1/8″? Or it’s a fat yellow line that doesn’t allow me to even see the edge of the fabric.
How do you feel about quilt math and fractions?