Quilting by numbers

Quilting by numbers, is not the same as the painting by numbers idea but similar.Have you as a quilter or general sewer of any product thought of the numbers behind our hobby or profession?I must confess that I like numbers. I was educated in the ’60s and ’70’s when we were taught mathematics. Unlike now, just how to pass an exam in the current exam factories that the government says are schools. Reciting the times’ table on a Monday morning on the way to school to try and get a head start. The teacher would ask what is 5×5 or 11 x 7 or for me the dreaded 9’s… For this one, I used to work out the number x 10 and then deduct the number. 8×9= (8×10 = 80 – 1×8 = 72).So, what am I rambling on about you may ask?


How many numbers are in our particular hobby? Take longarm quilting for instance. How many numbers are in longarm quilting?Of course, there are the numbers in the fabric that we make the original quilt from. The amount of each fabric we use in inches. the weight of the fabric we use. The size of each individual cut piece of fabric such as the 4″x5″ blocks. The diagonals of the half-square triangles. The actual angles of the pieces of fabric we cut. 90, 60, 45, 30 degrees, and everything in between.Then there is the number of each block, row, quarter panel, and half-panel in the quilt. What are the angles of the quilt if it is folded in half, quarters, or even ROLLED up cylindrical? How much binding will be needed? The directional angles of sewing binding strip together and then to the finished quilt. The list can go on and on.Of course, we have not even got into the number of stitches yet. Does anyone ever count the number of stitches you use to make a quilt? From the first press of the treadle or the first, satisfying push of the hand needle, numbers add up. Through the two pieces of fabric so lovingly cut to precision, the numbers are evident.


I love numbers but I must admit I do not count the machine stitches on my Benina 330 sewing machine. I DO however count them on the longarm machine. Well, I say I do, I set the stitch counter on my HQ Avante to zero. The computer takes a tally after that.Then of course there are the numbers involved in the thread that is used. Only Aurifil Fourty/3 is used for the longarm. It is a beautiful 3-ply, 40-weight cotton. This works so smoothly and warmly while I am quilting for myself and my customers.


There we have numbers again, 40 weight, 3 ply. Go further with the numbers by asking how much cotton is picked to make a 1000 metres of thread. What numbers are involved in the dying of the cotton, or the fabrics we so lovingly caress in the shops. Secret stashes, hiding holes, and parallel universes, that the spouse must never know about contain numbers.Each thread has a description number, a dye lot number so the world of numbers is all around us. I include these numbers in the quilt report that I do for each quilt finished for a customer or myself.Quilts can become heirlooms and the numerical information if kept with the quilt and passed down to the next generation. That’s the power of numbers.