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Perimeter of Parallelograms

Use basic quadrilateral formulas

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A Stitch in Time

Credit: Becky Fiedler
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beckyfiedler/6331953449/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Did you know that the craft of quilting can be traced all the way back to the ancient Egyptians? Quilts have been made throughout history to commemorate events. You have probably seen a quilt either at a craft fair or in your own home, but have you ever thought about making a quilt yourself? Have you ever wondered what would be involved in such a project? Well, you would certainly need to use math—in particular, your knowledge of squares!

Why It Matters

Why squares? The designs of most quilts are composed of square units known as quilt blocks. Pictured below is an example of a simple quilt block. You can see that the pattern of this block is essentially a square within a square. By contrast, the patterns on the square blocks of the quilt pictured above are much more complex.

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

To create a quilt, each small quilt block is designed and sewed. Then, the blocks are sewn together, and the actual quilt is gradually assembled. There are countless quilt designs and quilt block patterns to choose from. The image below is of a quilt in progress, one that is partially based on the simple square-in-square quilt block pattern pictured above.

Credit: Lisa Yarost
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisa_yarost/3395899288/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Where does the math come in? Just as their patterns can vary tremendously, quilt blocks can also come in many different sizes. Let's say that you want to make a queen-sized quilt that measures 60 inches by 80 inches and you want to use 6-inch quilt squares. In order to figure out how many quilt blocks you will need for your project, you will have to do some math:

  • \begin{align*}\frac{60}{6}=10\end{align*}, which means you will need 10 6″ squares across (width).
  • \begin{align*}\frac{80}{6}=13 \frac{1}{3}\end{align*}, which means you will need 14 6″ squares down (length).

You may want to add some trim, or a border around the edges. If you do so, then you won't need as many squares because the trim will take up some of the area inside the quilt. Should you also choose to add sashing in between the squares, you'll need even fewer—around 8 6″ squares for the width and 10 6 squares for the length. Quilt block by quilt block, you can stitch together a masterpiece of artwork and math!

See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a2bN7NqoR0

Explore More

You can explore mathematical quilts at the website of Elaine Krajenke Ellison, a quilter and former math teacher—simply click on the tabs at the top of the page to browse through her work. Check out the second link for an extensive gallery of quilt blocks.



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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Becky Fiedler; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beckyfiedler/6331953449/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  3. [3]^ Credit: Lisa Yarost; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisa_yarost/3395899288/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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