Friday, June 27, 2014

You Do the Math!

I wish I had paid more attention in my math classes.  I distinctly remember saying many times over in my high school  “I’m never going to use this stuff anyway – what a waste of my time!”  (Sorry for my shitty attitude, high school math teachers, for the record, I was SO wrong!)  What I don’t get is how I managed to make straight A’s in math at the time?!  Go figure!  (And yes, that pun was intended.) Now I really wish I could remember how to do some of that stuff, because believe it or not, I find I often need (gasp) MATH for some of my designs. 

Naturally I would prefer to have a computer program that would do the math for me, but so far I haven’t found one that does what I need it to.  Not that I have looked very hard – yet.  But after the latest issues I’ve had, I may begin a search in earnest. 

It all started with the usual – my getting an idea for a design that I had no earthly idea how to put together.  Here is the original sketch. 

After dutifully drawing it on graph paper, with a scale of 1 square equals 2 inches (It sure looks all official and math-y to me!)

I still didn’t know how to figure out the exact dimensions of the side triangles (I was pretty sure it wouldn't work out to count them diagonally...) But I wasn't concerned about that yet because... 

First I had to think for a moment on how to actually construct it.  Even though it’s a simple graphic design, putting it together was not so obvious to me right at first (Yes, I readily admit to being spatially challenged!)  I decided to construct the middle triangles first,

 then add the one-inch strip of white to the sides of the triangles, (these blue triangles below are not sewn together yet, they just look like it)

So far, so good, right?  But now I could no longer put off figuring out the dimensions of the yellow triangles.   How hard could it be?  I knew the length of the one side by measuring the while pieces on the sides, and I knew it was a right angle, and I knew how wide it had to be from the skinny part of the triangle to the edge if the quilt - at least I thought I did, but I still felt unsure.   

 SoI tried to draw it on an online quilting program but there was no tool for just drawing a straight line and then getting the measurements. 

I thought and thought some more and suddenly the math fairy came to me and reminded me of the Pythagorean theorem: A squared + B squared = C squared.  Only every time I did it, it didn't seem right, and I was scared to cut the triangle and have it not fit and then have to cut more strips and sew them again. 

In the end I decided to forget about trying to be all scientific and just fly by the seat of my pants, like I always do.  I would sew strips of fabric together, then sew it to the side of the triangle and cut it to fit.  No problem, I thought – I have carefully sewn the middle and it should be easy to use the straight sides to use as edges for cutting the triangles. 

What a disaster.   After sewing it together twice, it is still all wonky and I had to stop for the night lest I lose all my ability to remain even the tiniest bit zen due to massive Frustration!  

I was showing it to my husband, and I got the brilliant (we’ll see) idea to measure each triangle down the middle and cut the bottom of the side triangle to that exact specification, (I already know the one side is the correct length as it is sewn on and trimmed) That should straighten it out.  I was too tired to do it last night, but I’m going to take out all the stitches and try it this morning.  I’ll let you know how it goes…I may end up yet cutting and sewing more strips, but I’m resigned to the idea – I really like this design and I’m going to (cheerfully, dammit) make it work.

This whole thing goes to show that I really need a book, a class or (and this is my favorite scenario) a computer program that will do the measuring for me.  All I would have to do is draw the design into the program and it will not only add the seam allowances and tell me the exact measurements, but will also calculate the fabric needs as well.  If such a program exists and doesn’t cost too much, somebody PLEASE  tell me, because my art brain and my math brain do not match up at this point and it’s testing my ability to be - you know -   


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