Mathing Out the NotQuilt Design

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This post is part of a series about sewing NotQuilts. If you’re unfamiliar with this method, The NotQuilt series begins here.

The topmost and bottommost horizontal rows are sewn down. Time to work something mathing on the NotQuilt! Dear Daughter and I pulled everything away in the living room. Dragon Princess was spread out on the floor, and I measured each vertical space across the surface of the NotQuilt. As you might expect, none of them were the same length.

They were close. Lengths ranged from 70 ½ to 72 inches. I chose 71 inches as my length, got out the notebook and drew the grid and entering in the measurements.

mathing notquilt

Having the picture makes it easier for me to see what I need to do next, as opposed to a set of equations. I still make and write down the equations but I know why I have them. This is especially important when I go back to the notebook days, weeks, months, or years later to figure out what I did. I highly recommend that you keep a sewing notebook even if all you do is make pajamas using a pattern. You can write down changes, corrections, fabric choices; all the things you figured out in the heat of the moment and can’t remember later.

So I have my picture, not to scale, and I can see that to match the vertical pattern of six strips across, each seven inches wide, I need to have my horizontal pattern be six strips up and down, each seven inches wide. I already knew this, but the line drawing reconfirmed it.

Since the vertical strips are about 71 inches long, I drew my second picture and divided up the space. My sketch shows the five blocks, separated by the seven-inch wide strips. How wide does each empty block need to be? Four strips, each seven inches wide, equal a total length of 28 inches. I subtract 28 from 71 (my total space) and get 43 inches.

That 43 inches gets divided by 5, the number of blocks I need. My calculator gives me the answer of 8.6.

Making Paper Spacers

The next step is to make my paper spacers. I’m not going to try to make paper spacers 8.6 inches wide when I can far more easily and accurately measure out 8.5 inches. That tiny bit left over will disappear under the Roman stripes and the overall busyness of the fashion face.

Since I don’t need them anymore, I flipped over the 9-inch spacers from the vertical strips, measured, marked and trimmed them to 8 ½ inches. To make sure I didn’t use the wrong side, I X’d out the ‘9’ side.

As before, they worked perfectly. Spaced this way, my horizontal strips march down the fashion face of Dragon Princess evenly, and make what look like squares with the vertical strips.

mathing notquilt

Laying out the vertical and horizontal rows

The blank squares are not true squares, but no one will ever know when I am done filling them in.

I pinned down the second row and the fifth row of the horizontal strips. As with the vertical strips, I am working from the sides into the center. That will allow me to adjust my spacing if I need to do so. My error creep in measuring (and I know I have some since 8.5 is not 8.6) will end up in the middle row of empty squares, just as my side-to-side error creep ended up in the center column of empty squares.

pinning quilt

Pinning down the rows prior to sewing

As expected, I had to piece interstitial block four for row two and for row five. The seams are a little farther into the center of the patch as I am tearing the strips wider. I don’t want a repeat of tearing a block and having it be too narrow for the space. This is, of course, using up more fabric.

I used up all of my first extra strip and most of my second extra strip, filling in the ends of horizontal rows one, two, five, and six. I tore another horizontal strip, seven inches wide, to use as filler for rows three and four. It looks like I will have about 9 inches of Dragon Princess left over, plus some odd-shaped scraps. Assuming that I do not make any more mistakes and Dragon Princess cooperates.

Once horizontal rows three and four are torn, pinned, and sewed down, I will start filling in the empty blocks with Roman stripes. I plan to alternate their directions to resemble a basket weave. I can start the top row with horizontal stripes or vertical stripes in the first block and fill in the empty spaces from there. Either direction should look fine.

roman stripes

Laying out the Roman stripes in the notebook.