Some Very Bad Math and Other Stories

I spent a good portion of today making the backing for this quilt.

This is a big quilt. It’s 96 x 96, so my plan was to make the backing 104 x 104 to give my long armer plenty of backing to play with.

I lived streamed a sheep herding competition in Kentucky as I hung out in my sewing room.

There is a lot of math involved with making a quilt backing, and even more when the quilt is this big. Math is not my strongest skill, but I’m pretty accurate at simple addition, subtraction , multiplication and division. Plus, I have a brain that has an easy time of making sense of spatial things.

I measured and cyphered and measured again and did more math and had it all figured out. And then I proceeded to cock it all up and cut both pieces of fabric 8 inches too short. I didn’t realize this mistake until a little later. It was quite dramatic when this issue came to light.

Basically, I did all kinds of fancy math to arrive at a size to cut the fabric for the backing and then proceeded to cut it the exact same size as the quilt top.

With the size of this quilt, I knew I would have to add some length to reach 104 inches. So I decided to use the leftover blocks and other fabrics to make up the difference I needed to add 20 inches of height to this. So I used this strip of left over blocks and flanked it with a strip of Jade Millefiore on each side.

So remember that I cut my large pieces of fabric 8 inches too short? Well, I discovered it as I was pinning this strip to the first larger piece of fabric. Dammit!!!

But one of the great things about this zig zag fabric is that you can add a piece and it blends in really well. So, while I will always know this seam is here in two spots on this backing, no one else will ever know.

After I fixed that mistake, the rest of this backing went together really well. Here it is on my guest bed so I could get a good look at it.

And then, when it was all done, I measured it and one side was four inches shorter than the other side. Did I mention that this quilt is square? FOUR INCHES SHORTER! Which means my backing is not at all square. I went over my math again and again trying to figure out how I had made one side so short, and I started making plans for how I would extend the length of this one side. I came up with a plan and set it aside to tackle when I’m fresh.

A little while later I was talking to a friend, expressing my frustration with the issue with my backing measurements. And we started going through my math together to see if we could figure out what had happened.

Well, we figured out that the side that I think is short is actually the correct measurement. The other side IS FOUR INCHES TOO LONG!!! My backing isn’t too small, it’s too big!

Too big is a lot easier to fix than too short. So tomorrow I will trim off 2 inches from the top and bottom so the strip down the middle will be easier to center for my long armer.


I don’t love making quilt backs. And I especially don’t love making BIG quilt backs. But I’m so relieved that I figured this all out before I started cutting and made an even bigger mess.

After an uneventful dinner I decided to start working on a bucket hat. The pattern I’m using is a free pattern from Sweet Red Poppy. A woman posted one she made on the KFC Facebook page today and I loved it. This is nowhere near done, the crown and brim aren’t even attached yet, but it’s coming together nicely and it going to be so fun!

The outside is Brandon’s octopus in black. The inside is Brandon’s black and white jumble.

It took more time to cut out all the pieces than it’s taken to do the actual sewing. But there may be more of these in my future.

I didn’t end up going to the coast today because the weather looked bad. There were a few beautiful moments here in Portland today.

But by damn, I AM going to the coast tomorrow! The weather took a turn for the better and low tide is at 11 am, so we’re going for it! My plan is to be on the road at 8 an.


22 Replies to “Some Very Bad Math and Other Stories”

  1. You got it, ma’am! I make large, 2″ thick 2-sided quilts, and often I have to add a border around the back because the fabric just wasn’t wide enough!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Totally empathize w/being math challenged! Even when I use a quilt PATTERN, often it ends up being a quilt SUGGESTION. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ They all evolve into something that is a quilt – but rarely the one it started out to be ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜† We are expanding our creative sides! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ˜†

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Math isnโ€™t my favorite either. I do love the quilt backing you created. The wide stripe of quilt blocks is fab. Makes the quilt reversible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an easy way to avoid matching fabric!!! But it was really needed in this backing because of the size! And it’s a great way to use up left over blocks!


  4. Sounds like youโ€™re feeling better! Good to hear

    I looked at the bucket hat on the kfc Facebook page and I might try it. It looks cute

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I follow your blog faithfully and want to share this with you: Dogs:husky vs border collie agility on tube. Maybe you have seen it but it is hysterical. Sally Z


  6. Great job on the quilt back! Your little mishap turned out to be an added plus๐Ÿ‘
    Enjoy the low tide… maybe Bender and Rico could do a little clam digging. I love your bucket hat. The octopus fabric is super cool. You wear it well. I am stuck on my Aboriginal bag – I need more Aboriginal fabric ๐Ÿ™ƒ
    So happy you are all better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally get your angst re quilt backings but I’ve embraced the wonky piecing. In fact, I sometimes like it better than the front and always think it makes a quilt more interesting to have something going on on the back. Here’s one I did recently:

    [image: IMG_20220424_170551660.jpg] It’s made from all kinds of odds and ends from the front plus a few pieces I wanted to use up from my stash. Here’s the front: [image: IMG_20220424_170607187.jpg] I gave it to a friend for her 70th birthday….it all started with a little pile of “curated” fabrics that I got somewhere and then backfilled from my stash.

    Re whether it’s the right size, this approach allows for all kinds of additions and subtractions without worries. I hope you enjoy yours and will not stress in the future.


    Liked by 1 person

  8. You have my sympathy with making the huge quilt back! I had a very similar experience when I made a quilt about the same size as yours. A lot of bi!@?!! Talking to the quilt.
    Love the bucket hat. Thanks for sharing where you got the pattern. Iโ€™m heading there next!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well now that you’ve told us all…. I guess you’re not the only one who knows. Instead, think of the back as a testament to your fortitude!! You didn’t give up. Good girl.
    Love the hat and fabric choice. Enjoy the coast. After being cooped up a change of scenery will do wonders.

    Liked by 1 person

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