Math IS Real Life: July 2016 Edition – Too many shirts (part 1)

It’s the first Wednesday of July which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!! If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!

If you are linking up, please include the below picture to link back to this blog post


 A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by MissMathDork,


When I was growing up, we used to go to my grandmother’s house.  My grandmother was always doing crafty – painting saws, sewing doll clothes for my sister and me, making quilts, you name it…she did it.  Like most crafters she had an abundance of supplies.  I remember one area of her basement was devoted to sewing.  She had a tall chest of drawers that had drawers full of buttons, thread, ribbon, and scraps.  I used to love search through the buttons and scraps. I would sit for hours and put together pieces of fabric or organize the buttons.

She used her scraps to make me one of my all-time favorite quilts.  One side is just strip quilting that has been cut into squares and sewn together BUT the other side used to entertain me at night when I couldn’t sleep.  I spent HOURS trying to figure out what number each piece of fruit represented.  Perhaps this quilt is the reason why I fell in love with math so much…. perhaps it’s also why I’ve always wanted to learn to quilt… who knows.


One thing is fairly certain though…  I inherited a bit of my craft “hoarding” tendencies from her… I have almost 30 math t-shirts (and yet I keep creating more!).  Some of them don’t fit anymore, some of the have holes, one is covered in whipped cream stains from pi day this year… something needed to be done with them, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of getting rid of any of them.


So I picked out 20 of them and decided to create a memory quilt.  This way I get to keep my shirts, utilizing them in a different way, and I get to snuggle in something I made.


I looked up a few things online but quickly realized that my shirts were going to be driving the mathematics behind this quilt.  So, I found the image that took up the most amount of space on a shirt to make my template.

I used my 12.5 x 12.5 cutting guide to help me with measurements.  To be quite honest, I was hoping to use the square guide as my template, but my largest design filled the entire square, leaving no room for hems which would mean my designs would not be fully visible.


I opted to use cardboard to create a template (hindsight: the next time I make a quilt, I will NOT be using cardboard as I ended up cutting slivers of it off a few times during the process.  Thankfully those slivers were in the hem, but it did slightly mess with measurements.)


After creating the cardboard template, I created rough with lots of bonus fabric around the cardboard so that I could sew on some interfacing to prevent the jersey material from stretching.


Then there was a lot of ironing….Slide7

and trimming down the squares to be 13.5 x 13.5Slide8

I decided to lay out the shirts first to see how the images worked together.   I tried to find a balance in the colors and patterns. There’s a swirl on the top row, so I put the other swirl in the 3rd row.  I made sure that the black and navy shirts were spread out.  I didn’t but the greed and red directly next to each other…Slide9

Then I remembered I had 5 shirts that didn’t quite fit the 13.5 x 13.5 mold.  They each had tiny images that would have left a lot of “blank space”


So I cut the template down to 13.5 x 6.25, cut the shirts down, added interfacing**(side-note at the end of the post), trimmed down the shirts, and added them to my floor design.  I only ended up being able to use 4 of the above shirts.  The TI shirt was too long and I’m a bit to OCD when it comes to balance to have a wonky size fitting into the design.


In the process of cutting the shirts, I realized that I had 4 math-y pocket images that I could also use.  That’s when it dawned on me that I needed a fun math fabric to pull this whole front together.  I put the 4 pocket images on each corner and started searching for a fun math fabric to pull this entire design together.  You may also notice that my OCD balance kicked in again and I moved some of the shirts from a black checkerboard to a cluster in the middle.  The half row in the middle threw the checkerboard off and I didn’t like how it looked.  Again, I worked with balancing the designs and colors until I found a layout that I liked.


Unfortunately for me, I had to order the math fabric and it was going to be at least 4 days before it arrived.  So, I knew I wasn’t going to finish the quilt as soon as I hoped, but I was at least able to sew the quilt top together.


And, even though I’m not an overly skilled sewer (or cutter!) my actual measurements after seams didn’t turn out too much differently than the drawing I had worked out.  I’m sure it’s because I tend to follow the foot of the machine for the seams (1/2 inch) more than the standard 1/4 inch.


So at this point, the top of the quilt is nearly done.  As soon as the math fabric comes in, I’ll measure it to fit the long panels, add the corners and sew on a border.  Check in next month, August 3rd, to see the math behind the border, adding the batting and backing, and my first ever attempt at using binding!  I just can’t wait to snuggle into my quilt!

** When I planned out the quilt I thought that 7 yards of interfacing would be more than enough!  16 squares at about a foot a piece is just under over 5 yards.  The extra 4 “half squares” would put me just at 6 yards.  So I purchased 7 yards.  Unfortunately, I did NOT take into account that I was putting the interfacing on the t-shirts BEFORE they were trimmed down to size.  I wanted to stabilize the jersey to keep it from stretching – which worked! – I just didn’t realize how much extra I would be using AND that I couldn’t “tetris” all of my pieces on to the interfacing as I had pictured in my head.  Lesson learned.  8 yards would have been more than enough.  7.5 was the ideal amount. Thanks, Judy for letting me steal that last bit!


  Don’t forget to check out the other MIRL posts below!  Check back over the next few days – more will be added!!

Categories: #mirl, computation and estimation, fractional reasoning, geometry and measurement, hands-on math, math is real life, and patterns, functions and algebra.


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