Get Out of My Quilt

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?

13 thoughts on “Get Out of My Quilt

    1. Erin

      Exactly why I can’t follow other patterns and have to write my own! ;)

      P.S. I hope to see you and say hi at the Dallas Quilt Show this weekend!

  1. Keera

    It’s so funny you wrote this post – I was only just spending too long going through all my measurements on a new pattern and second guessing myself and re-entering them in the calculator again! Math wasn’t a strong point – probably never will be. I grew up with centimetres and metres!!! I feel safe in the process of trialling all my blocks first! Good to know I’m not the only one! Keera x

  2. Jules

    You are hilarious! I too am quite math literate, but helping teach my son decimals to fractions and the reverse sent ME back to school! This is why the metric system rules much of the world!

  3. Juliet Wood

    I love this article and wanted to Pin the cat picture on my Pinterest page. I was thrown out of Maths class at 14 but I am not bad at it, I just struggle and like the cat there are some days I just don’t do it!! One thing I have learned is that when HSTs call for some many inches and 7/8 I round up to the inch and trim the thing afterwards.

  4. becky moyer

    OMG, you made me laugh so hard with this. especially the ryan gosling photo! I totally hate those odd fractions. I believe there is a ruler especially for those to help make them easier. I remember my LQS had a class on it and I totally ran away because it sounded scary. Of course i can’t remember the name of it because ‘i have the dumb today’.

  5. Kate G

    Yes, quarters do bring happiness. My great-grandfather worked at a bank and would always carry quarters in his pockets. My grandfather kept the tradition and to this day we use quarters as a symbol of love / thinking of you. When I visit my dad’s gravesite, I always find a few extra quarters on his tombstone.

  6. Erica

    Ha ha, great post. I took a lot of math in college too, I was even a grader for some of the linear algebra and differential equations classes, but I always have to punch in those fractions. I do enjoy doing quilt math though, the fact that quilting involves both a creative and an analytical side is big part of the appeal.

  7. Mary

    Some wise person advised, “when ‘whom’ would be correct, revise the sentence”. Ditto eighths and especially sixteenths in patterns!

  8. Beth

    Fractions don’t make me trip, but good grief, anything other than 1/4 or 1/2 does NOT belong in a quilt pattern. I mean, COME ON. Funny post, I can relate.

  9. Cristin

    I hate math in general… So I rarely try to design anything aside from wonky or simple blocks. Someday I hope to own EQ7 if they come out with a Mac version. Fractions I detest thee!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>