4.1 SQ Podcast 9 – Keep Experimenting Everyone!February 5, 2010
Cookie-Cutter Experiments vs Design your own
Already designed items are appealing due to overcoming obstacles in time, money, experience, fear, energy, motivation, or static friction. Some examples of pre-designed experiments are:
- cross stitch & embroidery patterns
- knitting & crochet patterns
- quilting kits
- free motion stencils
The other choice is to design it yourself. There is much fun in coming up with
- quilt block patterns (see Tuxedo Designs blog)
- quilt pattern placement or size (on point, baby sized, with sashing …)
- hand drafting quilting patterns (see Leah Day Free motion quilting designs blog)
- color choices
- fabric types
- thread choices
- color values
- rick rack choices
- applique patterns
(also see Tuxedo Park Designs’ personal blog where he takes common blocks and experiments with color and placement and scale – good insight into the experimental design process)
As much fun as it is designing your own stuff, it is also fun to decide what materials and tools to use for your project. For me, sometimes that takes the form of scientific experimentation. (or just experimenting – or just playing)
(A small number of) Ideas for quilt-related experiments in this fashion:
- brand of quilting gloves
- type of needle (sharps vs milners vs betweens ..)
- thimbles (like in Quilter’s Home mag)
- Machine quilting surfaces
- types of material to quilt with (cotton, flannel, knits ….)
- thread brands
Going through an example, we can discuss the finer points of setting up good quilty experiments
Get your question figured out and focused
- Lets say I want to know about thread – specifically thread durability while machine quilting
Come up with a hypothesis something I want to know
- I think that different brands of thread affect quilt durability during machine quilted applications (this should probably be more specific still)
Figure out how do you measure if your hypothesis is true (finding out your manipulated variables)
- Amount of time, stress, and washing affect quilt durability.
- Any one of these three measurements can be used as their own separate experiment – remember to focus
How do you show that changes in your variables will result in changes to your quilts?
- Mini Experiment 1: Hang weights on a quilt that is machine quilted for 30 days. Take observations daily of the quilt and compare results from day 1 to day 30 – extend this longer if necessary
- Mini Experiment 2: Hanging a quilt with a sleeve using different amounts of weight (different stresses on the quilts). Take observations of how much weight is on the quilt when the quilt thread breaks or stretches.
- Mini Experiment 3: Washing a quilt for 30 washes (decide if you want to use detergent or if you want to machine dry your quilt or you want to wash with rocks in your washing machine to help enhance the wear on it). Take observations of your quilt after each wash (or 5) and compare results from no washes to 30 washes – extend to more washes if necessary
Notice that in:
- Experiment 1 we are changing the number of days. Days or time is our manipulated variable in this experiment.
- Experiment 2 we are changing the stress on the quilt. (using weights)
- Experiment 3 we are changing the amount of washing time.
All these experiments may tell you about the ‘durability’ of the thread types.
You may find after this point that you want to only focus on one part of the experiment or you may want to be more specific still on your hypothesis.
- Maybe you only want to test the amount of wear on the quilt due to washing, and then decide to use different types of washing settings (hot water/cold water), detergents, dryer settings, amount of stress and other clothes in the washer at the same time …
Playing with Variables
DON’T make ALL the changes to your quilt simultaneously if you want to find out the real cause of your manipulated variable.
- If you change the stress, washing, and days, you could have results, but what were the results actually from??
Keep everything else the same. You don’t want to change anything that may throw off your results
- Use the same fabrics/batting machine/ stitch length for each type of thread you’re testing …
This is the controlling variable idea of your experiment. You can have a “control” with which to measure everything against.
- Your control in each of the experiments we have set up is the completed quilt on the first day with no weights or washes. Find a way to make good observations of your control (take pictures, notes, feel for puckers) before you start.
Always start with a ZERO result. Sometimes you can make 2 duplicate copies and leave one alone and test the other to help with comparisons.
- Like they do on the washing detergent commercials, only have one quilt with zero washes and the other quilt with 20 washes or 30 washes
Set up a rubric so you can tell “what is better”. This can be done mentally or you can give it a point value
- Best score for the washing quilt experiment is that after repeated washes there are no frays, puckers, raveled edges. Or you can do a pull test on the two fabrics and just pull them apart and see if they will pull apart easily.
Be prepared to make changes. Successful experiments can, and should, be changed and restarted with different techniques once you have some experience under your belt.
- Increase your amount of time, figure out a clever way to add stress without using weights.
- Then go back to the start and retake your data
Go small scale to figure out if you’re even in the ball park. Mythbusters does this well.
Be prepared for a hypothesis to be disproven. Try to get your data in an objective way without putting your “wishes into it”.
For example maybe my friend sells these really awesome quilting gloves, and I wanted to prove they were better than other brands of gloves. And it turns out that the friend’s brand stinks.
As long as you don’t tell your friend that they stink – try to keep the emotion away from the testing. Put your emotion into something more useful. Like designing that award-winning quilt!
Some fun websites related to web 2.0
Searching Marion’s blog I found her useful sites and I would like to also borrow one of her useful sites off of this post:
- Free customizable graph paper in PDF form
Why didn’t I mention this in the podcast? This is another Great site!
Make Blog led me to Indestructables DIY site for step by step tutorials
Just look at my wonderful acorn PRIZE from Mirkwood Designs for doing a podcast-inspired project! So soft and look at the detail and quality of the card as well!
Her podcast number 4 details the soft block carving. Here look at my stamp project
Here is my signature block with some (useless) walmart tools and the (useful) exacto knife. Cost: $1 for eraser, $4 for walmart tools (not necessary), and $5 (I think) exacto knife – has lots of blade types
I drew with pencil onto paper, then rubbed the pencil eraser onto the soft block eraser
Carving the image is not hard at all, but you have to be VERY careful – sharps – and VERY patient. Did this while watching ‘radio TV’.
The completed stamp and bits.
Additional Resources about the topic:
- eHow using scientific method to test hypothesis
- Science fair experiment tips
- Setup for a controlled experiment
- eHow setup a controlled experiment
Thanks to my commenters:
- Glenna (from Texas), Peggi, LabMom, Jill, Kim (from Canada) Toni, Marion, Bev St Claire, Kelley, Ruthann, and the Big Tent group, Allison, Robyn, Janet, Gail and all
Check out the posts from LabMom on
Space inspired quilt idea sites from Peggi
- Sue Nickels Space Quilt
- Shuttle block
- Quilting with Style space paper piecing design (part 1 of 2)
- Stained glass shuttle free design
- Kids quilt Rocket Man PDF
I am seeing a little bit of traffic from specific sites that put me on their blogroll. Specifically the Triangle Modern Quilt Guild Thanks!
Thanks guys and Keep experimenting!