Why Didn’t I Pay More Attention in Math Class?


Here’s my 10.5″ block. I ended up making 25 of them and sewing them into a quilt for myself.

A group of us are doing a friendship block exchange. It’s Americana fabric (of which I had none) and had to be red, blue and cream in color. I found a block I liked on the 2012 Quilting Pattern a Day calendar and purchased three appropriate-colored fabrics. I then cut and sewed the blocks together, assembly-line style, all the time congratulating myself that all 13 blocks were completed more than a month ahead of deadline.

Unfortunately the unfinished  blocks turned out to be 10.5″ instead of the required 12.5″.  At this point I stopped congratulating myself and started berating my stupidity … but I had (clearly wrongly) assumed it as a 12.5″ block.

I pulled myself out of the funk and purchased even more fabric, intent on making the new blocks during the monthly “Sit and Sew” at our local quilt shop.When I sat down to work out the math to convert the block from 10.5″ to 12.5″, I quickly discovered that 5 equal pieces don’t fit evenly into a 12.5″ inch block. Clearly it was time for Plan B — and possibly a review of 5th grade math.

Plan B involved searching the internet for 3 color, 12-inch finished blocks that didn’t require making  half-square triangles or flying geese. When that search failed me, I turned to my Block Bible called “5500 Quick Block Designs.”

I’m embarrassed to say that I spent more than 2 hours looking at blocks and — using a very old solar calculator — trying to reconfigure them to fit into the 3 color and 12.5″ final size parameters.  I was finally successful and made another 13 blocks. I was so glad to be rid of them that I forgot to take a picture! (They consisted of two 4-patches that were red and cream, and two 16-patches that were blue and cream.)

Today’s lessons are:

1. Think carefully before joining a block swap.

2. Measure a finished block before you make 13 of them.

3. Not all blocks can be easily scaled.

You can find the 5500 Quilt Block Design book at:


You can find the Quilting Block & Pattern-a-Day calendar at:



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