Sizing up Simple Math

The Simple Math pattern (by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson!) as written makes a finished quilt of about 47″ x 62″, made of 48 blocks. Now, I’m all for reasonable-sized projects (well, sometimes), but I wanted to make it in a size I’d actually use on a bed: I’ve got enough lap blankets knit up to last me quite some time, and I’m not much for hanging quilts on the wall. (Well. Not yet, at least.)

I figured out that if I wanted to make a quilt roughly twin sized, I’d need to make 80 blocks. Well, I thought — I’m well on my way! Look, I have 64 of them done!


All right, so it doesn’t look very impressive in those little bitty stacks. But that’s still 64 6.5″ square crosses right there!

And I only have two more colors to go, to get this all cut and sewn, see?

And then my mother (for whom I’m making this quilt) said: “Well, we don’t really need a twin size quilt. What about a full size one for the guest room?”

So I agreed, sighed, looked at the pattern, and drew myself a new mock-up. This one takes 120 blocks:

Here’s my logic in putting this diagram together.

I’m putting 2″ strips between the blocks, so that works out to 1.5″ of sashing on each side of a block (assume 1/4″ seams). The blocks are squared to 6.5″, so they will be 6″ square, if I put them together properly. This means I can increase this pattern by increments of 7.5″ (6″ block + 1.5″ sashing) So I did that, and increased it in size to 10 x 12 rows of blocks.

You’ll notice one other difference from the pattern as written: I decided to add a striped border using the scraps from the fat quarter fabrics. It will be 3″ wide, striping blues and the white background fabric. The white stripes will always be 3″ square, but the blues will vary in width from 1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″, in the same increments as the crosses. I’m looking forward to piecing that part together, though I suspect I’m going to hate it just a little bit when I’m putting it together.

That striped border adds 3″ to each side of the quilt, for a total of 6″. But then I wanted to be sure I had plenty of material around the edge of the quilt to trim and still have enough room to sew on the binding without it obscuring the stripes. So I added in a 3″ strip of sashing around the outside of my impromptu striped border, which adds another 6″ to the final dimensions.

And when you do the math for all of that, the finished quilt ends up being a whopping 88.5″ x 103.5″

I’m a little daunted by the idea of quilting all of that, but I’m pretty sure I know how I’m going to do it, so that part, at least, is a little less scary.

Of course, increasing from 80 to 120 blocks doesn’t just happen by itself. So I walked over to the fabric store, and picked up three solids and two prints, to make another 40 blocks:

The solids are Kona cotton, the prints are whatever happened to be in the fat quarter bin and caught my eye.

I’ve cut three of them so far, but then the draft deadline for the paper that will become my thesis called, and I’ve paused right now, about to cut out the stripes from the last two fat quarters, and then cut 40 more 6″x6″ white blocks for the backgrounds of all those new crosses. I’m just glad I have a few extra yards of this white background fabric: otherwise I would be very, very sad.

Simple Math

Of course, now that I’ve gotten to the point where I could, theoretically, bind and quilt the Nine-Patch quilt, my safety pins haven’t arrived in the mail. And I’ve seen tutorials for using a spray-on-adhesive, but I haven’t really got anywhere outdoors to spray it (or any adhesive). I suppose I could always baste the layers together by hand, but I really hate basting by hand.

That delay clearly just means it’s time to start cutting for another quilt, right?

Cut fabric for Simple Math

And maybe piecing a couple of blocks together.

Pieced squares for Simple Math

And then pressing and trimming some of the pieced blocks.

Smallest two sets of pieced and pressed blocks for Simple Math
Fattest cross blocks for Simple Math

And, well, I’ve now made 60% of the blocks I’ll need for a slightly altered (to Twin size) Simple Math quilt.

Thirty two blocks for Simple Math in four colors

I love the way the crosses vary from narrower to fatter, but it’s been making some of the blocks a little bit challenging.

The larger two, with crosses that are 2″ and 1 1/2″ inches wide, are no problem. The smaller two, with crosses that are 1 1/4″ and 1″ wide, pieced into a block 6″ square — well, in that case, you need your seams to be kind of exact — and not all of mine are. There exists the chance that I’ll have to rip a couple of them out and re-do them later, to make them come out quite right — or give them sliiiiightly wider sashing to make a row go together properly. I’ll see when I have more of the blocks done: I did a much better job with the fifth and sixth pairs of narrow crosses than I had with the first four of them.

Nine-Patch Lattice Quilt


This is the Nine-Patch Lattice Quilt from Oh, Fransson!, Elizabeth Hartman’s quilting blog. I stumbled across her tutorial on how to make crazy nine-patch blocks a year or so ago and thought it was genius. So when I got the urge to try my hand at quilting something that actually had a pattern, I thought of the tutorial, visited her blog, and found the Nine-Patch quilt. The practice blocks I did were mock-ups for this project.

I didn’t end up going for crazy blocks, because I preferred the lattice effect of symmetrical squares. I strip-pieced the blocks, which made everything much faster and easier, and aside from learning that I can’t sew a scant 1/4″ seam without a guide of some kind (and even then, I sometimes manage to sew a slightly wider seam, just enough to throw things of a teeny bit overall), it went very smoothly.

I used nine fat quarters I’d picked up at a Joann Fabrics to use together. Originally I was going to use the green sheet I used in the test pillow squares as sashing, but something about it didn’t quite look right to me. So when I went down to Brooklyn General to pick up a 6×24″ quilting ruler, I brought along one of the squares, and laid it against some of the fabrics they had there. This is Kona Cotton in Navy (if I recall the color correctly: a dark blue, in any case) and I really like the way it sets off the greens.

One of my favorite things about this pattern is the back:

The little squares remind me of stained glass windows, glowing in the darker wall of blue fabric.

Where it began

Getting into quilting is largely what made me start this blogging thing up again.  And that’s largely because of quilting blogs I was reading that made me think “That’s gorgeous!” and “Hey, maybe I could eventually learn to do something like that!” Besides, it’s not as if I have a dozen knitting and spinning WiPs. I’ve only got, say, eleven or so of those.

The first project I really wanted to try was the Ninepatch Lattice Quilt. Elizabeth Hartman’s blog, Oh, Fransson! is a source of fabulous information and inspiration. Her patterns are clear and easy to follow, and I love the way she thinks.

Of course, I didn’t trust myself to do anything right the first time around, so I made a set of practice nine-patch blocks, and then, when they weren’t disastrous, sewed them together into squares that I’ll probably use as the front and back of a pillow. Test pillow

The print fabrics are fat quarters I picked up at a Joann Fabrics sometime when I was in Connecticut or Indiana, and the green is from a sheet I picked up at a thrift store in Atlanta for pretty much exactly this kind of project. I don’t think they match perfectly, but for a test swatch, I think it came out okay. Front of the test pillow piece