Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

Just the word “math” scares some people away from quilting, but it’s simple when you break it down into parts.

QMMP 130400 cover 2001 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1The March/April ’13 issue of Quiltmaker is #150, a milestone! To celebrate, we featured a Block Bonanza of 150 quilt blocks on page 75.

150Blocks Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

The Block Bonanza is diagrams of quilt blocks you can make. There aren’t cutting dimensions or sewing instructions. So…how can you make those blocks? It’s easy if you know a few simple recipes (that’s a familiar word used in place of the more scary word “formulas”). See? We’re making it simpler already.

Today let’s talk about one simple block, the very first one shown. And let’s talk about just the first step in figuring out the block math.

blockbonanza1 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

Look at the diagram and notice how the block is divided. How many equal sections across are there? Another way of  looking at it is in “columns”: How many equal columns of patches do you see? For our sample block, there are just two.

Being able to see how many divisions there are across the block is the first (easy!) step in knowing how to make these blocks. Here are a few more blocks for you to practice on.

lavenderblock Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

How many equal columns or divisions do you see in this block?


blockbonanza2 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1You can see by the lines I’ve drawn that there are five.


blockbonanza2b Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1If you drew the lines like this, you could say there are 10 divisions or columns. That would be another way of looking at it. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s stick with the idea of five divisions. (If your lines are cutting some patches in half, you’re probably using too many lines.)


Here’s another practice block.

brown green block Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

How many columns or divisions? Again, without cutting patches into awkward parts, you’d have to say two.

blockbonanza8 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1


Here’s another practice block.

7 first block made 300x225 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

This one’s a bit more tricky. I would draw the lines like so:

blockbonanza3 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1And I would call it four columns or divisions. I did cut the center patch in half, but that’s okay, you’ll see how that works in Part 2 next week.


BBB 450 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

This is the Big Block Baby Quilt from our Jan/Feb ’13 issue. It’s really just one big block. How would you divide it?


blockbonanza4b Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1I’d do this and call it five divisions.


Practice on the blocks below. In Part 2 next week, I’ll tell you what to do with this information—how it can be used to figure the size of your patches. This is exciting stuff!!

The block:

QMMS 091033 P LYNN RB Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1


The block’s divisions:

blockbonanza7 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

The block:

QMMS 120024 GENTRY Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1


The block’s divisions:

blockbonanza6 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

The block:

QMMS 120024 BEAM Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1


And the block’s divisions:

blockbonanza5 Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1


I can hardly wait to show you more!

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
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9 Responses to Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 1

  1. Pingback: Articles to Enjoy | Quilty Pleasures Blog

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  3. Jan Duggan says:

    I’ve always loved the look of a border made up of continuous little blocks but I have always shy away from doing them as I cannot figure out how to get the correct amount of little blocks to make it look proper as I would always seem to have to have a quarter block or half block and that really shows up… hence to say I gave up trying.
    Yes I am no good at math either lets say I had the world’s first for a test result receiving a minas 13 on a test result in grade 8.

    Also when marking the quilting designs around the border on a quilt I cant get the corners to have that continuous flow any suggestions for this of is this not a quilt math question. Thank you

  4. Soozie says:

    How about one on figuring out how much material you will need for your borders of the quilt.

  5. Ella says:

    Very helpful – this is easy math – great explanation

  6. Pingback: Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 3 | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  7. Pingback: Quilt Blocks: Simple Math Part 2 | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  8. Karen D. says:

    I have never been good at math but somehow figuring out how quilt blocks go together has always been relatively easy for me. This simplifies it even more. We are so fortunate to keep using our minds, as well as our hands, as we age. And we are rewarded with producing beautiful quilts that will last for generations, hopefully.

  9. Kaye M. says:

    I took geometry in high school and wondered what I would ever do with this information in my life time. Many years later when I started quilting, I had an “aha” moment! Finally, now I could put that geometry knowledge to use!

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