8.9 SQ Episode 18 – The Great Velocity Experiment – Part 1

October 31, 2010

Podcast Feed

Do you feel the need for speed?

Physics of Velocity

What is velocity?  Why not call this podcast – “Quilting Speed”?

Velocity is noted as speed and direction

What is speed?  Speed is the distance you travel and the amount of time it takes you to do so.

Velocity in physics is measured as both instantaneous and average.

Instantaneous velocity is the speed and direction you are at any given moment

Imagine you are driving  – or will be. Getting in your car, turning the key, you notice the car starts at rest.   

A velocity of zero.

You accelerate to a certain speed.  At any given instant between zero and your final speed your spedometer would read something different. An instantaneous velocity.

If you want to look at your average velocity during that same time period, consider the entire time period you were moving.  Then take your beginning speed, and your ending speed (going in the same direction) and take the average of the two. 

In our car, we are moving compared to the ground.

Compared to the ground.  A frame of reference.  The most common frame of reference is the ground.

If we were driving in a 4 lane highway, how fast do we appear to be driving compared to another car going faster?

Let’s say the other car is going faster, in the same direction we are. 

We’ll fall behind the other car, right?  We’re going to be late to the party. Hey, wait for us!

Doesn’t it appear that we are going backwards to the other car? 

We know we’re not going backwards, we can see we’re making progress forward compared to the ground, but making less progress compared to the faster car. 

But if you could see what your friend’s kid could see, looking back, seeing our slower car from the faster car’s perspective, our car would look like it is leaving us.  And the kids can make faces at us.

We can also have a negative velocity if we are considered to be ‘going backwards’ from where we intend to go. 

We can have a negative velocity compared to other vehicles.

So the study of velocity in physics starts you thinking about your speed, your direction, type of velocity measurement and your frame of reference, and these major terms can be applied to quilting.


Experimental Results

I’ve set up a separate page on my blog for the Great Velocity Experiment

I’ve created my own small scale experiment that measures the average velocity of a set number of strips.  And you can play along!  It’s easy.

You’ll really only need a number of strips or blocks that need sewing, a method to sew them, a timer, how many blocks or strips you have, and the length of 1 block or strip.

It is also nice to know what machine you use, what width of blocks you’re sewing (I found it makes quite a bit of difference), and you have to try to be accurate too!

Further details in the link above and in the show.  I am also including it on the side bar, and if I can figure out how to post a widget for you guys with blogs, I’ll let you know.

You DON”T HAVE TO DO any of the math, except to tell me the specifics I ask for, which the most math is measuring your block and counting the number of blocks, and I’ll do all the rest of the math for you!  What a deal!

And if you’re overseas and use meters instead of inches/yards (silly US system we have set up here), let me know that too.

I’ll do a giveaway to a lucky random person who participates! (Details to follow)

Wrap up

A few notes to wrap up part 1 of this podcast

THANK YOU for reaching out to me!!!  Thank you thank you thank you!

If you want some books I recently ‘read’ (listened to) about the brain and decisions (logical side and emotional side):

 Gridlock Gridlock?  Try this technique at Sew Mama Sew suggested by Sally

Want to try a cross stitch pattern from a picture?  Try My Photo Stitch suggested by Deb

 Optical Illusion Quilt by Jane at Just Plain Jane Quilts


Additional Music

From Mevio

  • Eric Kauschen – Speed of Light
  • Josh Woodword – Once Tomorrow – Instrumental
  • Gravity – Geoff Smith

From Freesound

       By genghis attenborough 
            Tornado jet.wav 
        By audible-edge 
            Driving in Streamwood IL with the windows down (05-04-2009).mp3 
        By Corsica_S 


  1. I have every intention (and it’s on my “list”) to participate in your experiment and to send you photos of a few quilts I’ve designed. Course, you know how it is……………. Tami in Denver

  2. Hi Darla, I share your thoughts on the podcasters that we have not heard from for a long while. I feel like quilting podcasters are like friends that give advice, cheer with their witty comments, share bits and pieces of their family life, frustrations and achievements and what quilting projects they are working on at the time. When they do not post or podcast there is a void that leave me wondering if all is well with them and what has happened to them.
    On the need for speed side: I will perhaps have to find a project that uses strips to give the test a go. I have attempted to see how fast I can stitch binding on to a quilt side at times. I have not really timed myself with a timer, instead I test myself to see how few times I have to stop or slowdown to get back to my 1/4 inch seam allowance.

  3. In addition to an interesting challenge, thank you for the book and podcast recommendations.

  4. Hi Darla,
    I had my machine out yesterday to repair a purse…no…nothing quilty and I remembered your
    Great Velocity Experiment. My machine is an OLD Bernina and it has a 1/2 speed setting. I don’t think I have EVER used any other setting so I threw caution to the wind, put the setting on Full Speed Ahead and joined in.

    4 strips @ 42 inches
    Time was 3 minutes 40 seconds (according to the clock on my microwave)
    Fabric width was 1 1/2 inches which I think slowed me down cuz it was fiddly to sew such narrow strips.
    I think my speed was 1.27 yards per minute.

    I was laughing out loud as I sat there sewing like a maniac….my machine is MUCH louder on the fast setting. It was fun, but I will be going back to my slowpoke speed….my comfort zone!

    Thanks for all the work you put into your podcasts.
    btw, I LOVED the music you had towards the end of your podcast…mellow but happy!
    Best regards from
    Gail in Wa State

    ps…I have ALWAYS listened to your podcasts and I am one of the many who don’t even bother to come over to the blog, leave a comment when something interests me, say “wow” about how much thought and work you put into designing your quilts, and just say thanks once in awhile.

  5. […] were the strips I was sewing for my velocity experiment live.  See it didn’t hurt anything in the end to time […]

  6. What a great experiment. I hope to participate, but agree that wider strips might be easier than narrower ones.

  7. […] The velocity of quilting is how we think of quilting using velocity terms and concepts. The concepts are defined in Part 1 of this episode. […]

  8. […] forget to participate in the Great Velocity Experiment!  Post your results on the page on Quilting […]

  9. […] If you want details on how to do the experiment, go to the Experiment Podcast page.  […]

  10. […] is that?  Just check out my two episodes part 1, part 2, or my velocity […]

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