Archive for the ‘Theory’ Category


9.7 Inflorescence Types and other Leaf Drawings

December 21, 2010

While looking up flower types, I noticed a section of the Kansas Grasses and Wildflower site that may be of use to quilters when considering drafting their own flower pictures.

Leaves and flowers all look different, and if you’re willing to ‘go rouge’ and just Frankenstein together a flower with different flower parts, rather than copy a picture of a flower directly, you may want to learn about things like inflorescence.

Flower drawing by Dean Haddock, found on the Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses website.

On the wildflower and grasses site, there are a series of flower and leaf part drawings that do an excellent job of explaining what types of ‘stemming and flower bunches’ (my words) occur without an explanation, just pictures and names. 

This not only gives you the names for the types of flower variations, but may give you some ideas of how to draft your flowers in EQ7 or something similar. 

Think of all the gorgeous applique or embroidery that could take place from this!?

Here are some leaf types.

Flower drawing by Dean Haddock, found on the Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses website.

My sunflower patio quilt has what looks like an ovate leaf shape, with singular inflorescence, for example.


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 


8.0 Podcast Episode – Gridlock Quilting

September 18, 2010

Podcast Feed

This episode we are going to explore quilting on a grid using techniques I found to create a pixellated image.

The image is a copyrighted image from Nintendo, but the final composed picture will be arranged in the order of my personal decision.  Due to the copyrighted nature of the original image, I would strongly caution in this case against selling the object without checking on copyright laws, which even after reading about, I still feel like I know very little.  This image and project may fall under the fair use laws, in which case the copyright may not be an issue.  When in doubt, consult professional help. (this post may lose some pictures if asked to take them down, I will)

Grid quilting is not equal to watercolor quilting, but close!

Darla’s steps for grid quilting are as follows.

Obtain the image. 

This is hard work when playing video games.

For common images you would like to replicate, you may be able to download specific sprites. 

For my practice piece, I found a site that had many sprites available to download, and saved the sprite images on my computer (right click, save target as). This site has many sprites available to download, and the site defines a sprite as a 2 dimensional image that is integrated into a larger scene.  I want to eventually do an entire scene, but starting with a sprite is a good start.

Sprite Stitch article about sprites and downloading.

If you want to make a pixellated image from a normal picture, there is also this website that can create pixellated images.  It is best to get the smallest images possible and then blow it up.  I have found that this program has limitations on showing adequate resolution, but wouldn’t a pixellated image be a great watercolor quilt background for applique pieces of more details?

Using photoshop 7.0 these are the techniques I used recently to foundation piece an image using a grid.  Similar tactics may be able to be used with similar programs.

Free Image Editing Software Programs

  • Pixlr (browser-based graphic program, nothing to download)
  • Inkscape (free to download, vector graphics)
  • Or go old school and create the image with online graph paper. (downloads as a pdf)


Work with the Image

It helps to be able to see the pixels.  On photoshop, click on edit, preferences, grids, guides and slices.

Then check the grid like so that 1 grid line for every 1 pixel:

It doesn’t matter what color of lines, as long as it will show up on your image, it’s fine.

This will take the image with a grid, if you just opened the small image, it might not show up well.  Go ahead and blow it up by pressing Control and + (the plus sign) to get the maximum amount of size.

If the grid doesn’t show up, go to view/show/grid.

The original image was this:

Image from Nintendo JJW.

And now I have an image like this:

Also notable, I highlighted the blue color and put it behind mario in the project.

Print the Image

To be able to print the grid on paper, I found an easy trick. 

Get the image blown up as much as possible.  I found the maximum amount I could see was 1600%.  Make sure the grid is on. 

Hit print screen.  Then open a new picture (ctrl N) and then paste into the picture (ctrl v).  Surround the area of the picture only, then image/crop.

Printing off of photoshop was easy when I went to file print with preview, and then adjust the scale size of the printed page by changing the 100% to something easier to see on the page.

For the rest of this tutorial, the printout is black and white (I haven’t used color ink in forever), for further color information for the project I referenced the original on the computer. 

The printout does not have the grid printed on the printout.   The grid trick was done for another project after printing this off.  It would have made the next step easier.

If you notice I wrote with pencil across the grid and down the grid, one number for each pixel.  This helps me figure out how wide the grid is a the widest portion and how tall the grid is.  Again easier with a grid superimposed.

Prepare the mockup interfacing

For greater reference, and a step that might not be necessary, I copied this onto some pellon interfacing.

I purchased pellon interfacing with a one inch grid printed on one side of the fabric.  Since I want to make the pixels smaller than one inch, I took my trusty ruler, a pencil, and I drew in every half inch on my grid. (not pictured)

Then I counted down 9 rows and started drawing in the grid with an ultra fine tip sharpie marker, making sure to have some scratch paper behind the marker.  The marker bleeds through this interfacing, so be careful with your fabric.

This step reminds me a lot of counted cross stitch.  I did not distinguish what is what color here.

Along the top and sides of my grid, I marked the numbers from my original drawing.  This makes it easier to do some of the following steps.

I made sure I had plenty more of the half inch marked pellon grid pieces.  This was all done at the same time I was drawing my half inch squares for the diagram above. 

Prepare the strips

Make sure to draw about twice as many half inch squares from what is needed.  Then cut the horizontal strips for each line of the grid.  Cutting half way between the half inch blocks gives you a quarter inch seam allowance and makes things easier in the long run.

I found what helped me in creating the project was to cut and number in groups of five.  My brain can only remember about five things at once, so dealing with groups of five made the project more manageable, less overwhelming, more organized.

Then I took my drawn grid with the printout, hid all the rows but the top one, then copied all my data onto the strip.  I wrote the grid number on the left and then drew the left border two inches in, and then drew a vertical line every time I change colors. 

For example the first row has 7 blue blocks, 4 black blocks, and 5 blue blocks, so on my strip I drew a number 1, a left vertical line, then 7 blocks over drew another vertical line, then 4 blocks over drew another vertical line with the symbol I made up for black (slash diagonal lines), then 5 blocks over, drew the last vertical line on the right side. 

Pictured below is my 6th line with 2 blue, 1 black, 1 red, 1 black, 6 peach, 2 black, and then 2 blue (off screen).  I later learned it was better to write the color code in the seam allowance on the top or bottom rather than on the block itself.

For optimum coverage, I cut out 1 inch strips of fabric to start with.  Easy peasy.  Taking my one inch strip, I cut adequate amounts of fabric lengths for the sections of my quilt strips for each color and put them in order just above my interfacing strip.

Start foundation piecing

Now I get to start paper piecing!

Take the first two fabrics.  Put the first fabric just behind the interfacing so that it covers the area to be quilted, and then put the next piece of fabric directly behind it.  In the following picture, I have blue directly behind the interfacing and black directly behind that piece.

I love this because I can see through the interfacing very well, and so I can waste very little fabric by giving myself a quarter inch seam allowance here.  You can see that my markings are on the top of the interfacing, and this is where I am going to stitch.

Then as in true paper piecing form, I sew on the line, going just above and just below my piece.  A nice, easy, short, straight line.  Sew and line  up on the line between first fabric and second fabric.

Now time to turn it over, cut any extra long seam allowances if necessary …

… and finger press.

Now turn over the piece to see the lines and line up the next fabric with the next sewing line between blocks 2 and 3 … and sew on and sew on …

And after a while, you’ll see a pattern emerge.

Now these are strips just waiting to be sewn together.  Before sewing, press these strips on the fabric side.

Sew the strips together 

Using the numbered pieces, line up the first strip with the second strip, fabric side together, interfacing side outward.

Line up the interfacing grid several points on each strip.  You can see through the interfacing a little bit, and this helps things to line up vertically and horizontally.

Things that make this step easier

  • Have an outside border on each strip to line up. 
  • Stick the pin right along the gridline itself.
  • Make sure your strips are numbered and the numbers are all on the same side of the quilt.  This keeps you from having to figure out which direction the strip is supposed to be.
  • Make sure your strips are the same size.
  • Pin, pin, pin the strips together.

This picture is rows 1 & 2 sewn with row 3 pinned.

And here is what I have ‘finished’ at 10 rows.

I do not plan to remove any of the interfacing in this quilt.

I stopped here once I became evident of three things. 

  1. I knew what I was doing and I was liking the result.  It’s going to work.
  2. The red and skin tone are not correct and I can’t yet find the correct skin tone.  At this stage mario needs a tan.
  3. He’s facing backwards because i did not REVERSE the image.  GO DO THIS before you print the image and save a lot of heartache.

Quilting plans are simple.  To preserve the pixel nature of this quilt, I plan to quilt every half inch vertically and horizontally.  This may change to just stitching in the ditch with time however, it’s going to take several hours/days/months/years to get to the quilting phase of this project.  I want to make this quilt big!

Quilting on a grid folks.  Now you can get over the grid lock. Welcome to pixel perfection.

Let’s see your pixelated pictures.  Feel free to share computer designs on the Scientific Quilter Design group on flickr.


Additional Resources

Creating a paper pieced pattern in photoshop You Tube Video Part 1 & Part 2

Strip Pieced Watercolor Magic by Deanna Spingola

Create a Quilt Block with Illustrator

Additional Music by

Mario wave files The Mushroom Kingdom


From Mevio


Thanks for comments from Nonnie, Jen, Jill, Robin, Sandi


6.3 Podcast Preview – Stereotypes and Grouping

May 24, 2010

Getting the word out about my next podcast about stereotypes. 

Things have been crazy the past two weeks and so my research days turned into working days (or working on the totebag days).  All the effort I put into the totebag will be worth it when the recipient sees the bag!  I can’t wait!

I will get another podcast out sometime on memorial day weekend – working on it so far, have some recorded, but not all.

Before next weekend, I will ask, do any of you suffer from or experience quilting stereotypes?  Do you hear others group quilters into large categories?

Do you know about the average quilter and do you fit the average? 

Let me know through comment or e-mail by friday and I will synthesize your experiences into the podcast!


4.1 SQ Podcast 9 – Keep Experimenting Everyone!

February 5, 2010

Podcast Feed

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
  • BOM’s
  • 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

(see my Machine experiment number 1 post for more details of my personal design experiment inspired by Leah Day’s blog)

(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

Experimental Design

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:

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

More fun

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:

Thanks to my commenters:

Check out the posts from LabMom on

Space inspired quilt idea sites from Peggi

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!


3.9 SQ Podcast Episode 8 – What’s that word?

January 22, 2010

 Podcast Feed     

Although slightly unusual for a science/math/quilting blog and podcast, I want to focus on vocabulary.      

Screen Capture from

Occurences with complex vocabulary in technical disciplines    

What is it about all this scientific and mathematical vocabulary, notation, jargon, acronyms?  Is it there to make us smarter and understand more or is it there just to confuse us?  The following are some scientific examples of extreme vocabulary (look at your own risk)    

In math you have all the integral signs and the large sigma and the n-notation everywhere.      

In physics, essentially you learn the greek alphabet, math, equations everywhere!      

Chemistry is no better, with all the organic chemistry notation.  For example one diastereomer is trans-3-methylcyclopentanol (I have no idea what that is used for, but it looks complicated, right?)  The other enantiomer is cis-3-methlycyclopentanol in case you’re wondering.    

Biology for me was hard due to endless lists of vocabulary.  Just opening one page in my book gives me: squamous cells, cuboidal cells, simple epithelium, stratified epi…… (okay I’ll stop here!)    

With terms like this, its easy to stop in your tracks and run the other way.  Sure.  Go ahead.  See ya next podcast and post if you follow suit. But for a vocabulary adventure, keep reading.     


Eschew Obfuscation in the English Language and what to do about vocabulary intimidation     

But you don’t encounter intimidating vocabulary only in the science classroom.  Or in any classroom.  There are things all around us that cause us to feel intimidated just by saying them out loud.     

The English language being one of the great intimidators.   The existence of the word irregardless.  Spelling bee words.  A new (to me) phrase brought to my attention by one of my commenters:  Eschew Obfuscation    

After doing a little bit of research, I found out that “eschew obfuscation” means “avoid confusion“.    

Sometimes intimidating vocabulary can be used (like I did with the science words) to intimidate you.  Or as Timelady says: “sometimes (people) genuinely do not realise that it is unreasonable to expect others to understand such words – perhaps they are (using) technical jargon, abbreviations, acronyms”. 

Do I feel that a lot of people in my life do this on a regular basis? – NO.     

Do I feel that quilters have such a crazy complicated vocabulary such that they cannot express their meaning to me in a way I can’t understand? – Also NO.    

If someone does intimidate you verbally, Timelady says to counter with something to the effect of: “oh I don’t know what that word means.  Could you tell me?  Thanks for increasing my language skills”.     

To avoid confusion when writing, an Eschew Obfuscation website suggests to   

  • write simply
  • write concisely
  • assume the reader is naive
  • use the active voice
  • present tense
  • positive language
  • common language
  • avoid acronyms
  • organize thoughts sequentially and logically

(a few of these I have to work on myself.)    


Possible confusing vocabulary in our hobbies    

With hobbies of any kind, science fiction, fishing, quilting … etc. there is usually a learning curve to understanding the hobby.    

  • Learning product and equipment names can seem confusing to use.  Materials used in creating a project have their own names, brands, and acronyms. 
  • Other times it is a specific technique that is being demonstrated, and a skill that has to be learned. 
  • Sometimes abstract concepts are best described with a certain word or phrase like “color value”, gradation, contrast.  Some of these techniques are simple in idea, but also complicated such that it takes a lifetime to master.
  • Space saving when communicating is facilitating our use of acronyms and symbols.  Text messaging, tweeting, and constant communication is shortening our words and ideas to “WIPS” “UFO’s” “HSY” (haven’t started yet – heard by me first on Annie Smith’s Quilting Stash). 
  • Referring to loved ones as DH, DD, MIL, …. is necessary sometimes to protect privacy. 

The reason I haven’t pursued crochet and knitting is the pattern and symbol notations used in patterns as space savers.  I see the pattern notation, don’t take time to analyze it, and put the project down, never to start on it.  I COULD figure it out if I had the desire to learn, but for now I’ll just do quilting with its visual blocks.     


The above picture is a Screen capture from  


Strategies for overcoming intimidating vocabularies  

Once past the apathy, here are specific strategies for increasing vocabulary (in quilting or other):  

  • Dictionaries, lots of dictionaries. Ruthann has dictionaries everywhere. Christine has dictionaries at work and at home. I use or or to learn about things I don’t understand.
  • iPhones (with access to and Kindles have places to look up vocabulary too, so you don’t have to carry around a large dictionary everywhere you go.
  • Listen to Podcasts, listening to complicated words spoken several times gets you familiar to the words and ideas.  This makes it easier when you actually do the technique or use the product.
  • Watch Videos – Same as podcasts – gives you exposure, ideas, lets you see and hear together what is meant by various techniques and words
  • Write the word down several times – in context
  • Make up your own story or your own sentence 
  • Ask someone who brings it up to explain, then give them an example sentence or situation and see if you understand (my personal favorite a lot of times)
  • Learn the root words, prefixes and suffixes.  That organic chemistry compound earlier can be explained in its parts. For non-chemistry examples: hetero- means different, chrom- means color, epi- means above -graph means write …
  • Use word clouds to gain familiarity. Create your own on Wordle or Tagul.
  • Google search – or your favorite web search engine.
  • Post on a forum about what other people know. People are generally helpful enough to answer your questions.
  • Use mnemonics to help your brain link common terms and objects to more complicated ones



Screen capture from    


Do teacher-type techniques for extreme vocabulary learning (like for tests when you HAVE to know words)   

  • Make it fun. Create word crosses, word searches, and puzzles at discovery puzzlemaker site
  • Matching quiz. Write or copy the list of words and the list of definitions and paste each into two separate columns in a word processing or spreadsheet program.  Then alphabetize all the words alphabetically, and alphabetize all the definitions reverse alphabetically.  Do a matching game.
  • Create flashcards.  Used this to demonstrate the idea of stoichiometry in equations.  Physically moving something around helped with movement and learning.  As quilters, we move around the parts of our quilt blocks – that is similar to how to learn balancing equations.
  • Create a blog about a new word or idea.  Chances are that teaching someone else something will help you learn it better yourself.  Blogs are good for this.


 Something fun    

I hope you enjoy a little crossword that I created using words from Quilt University’s own Quilt Glossary.  You can find the PDF below.    

Go to Wordle and Tagul for your own word designs (having trouble with embedding links on my blog somehow)    

How about a 

 Some Vocabulary podcasts I found (listened a lot to Grammar Girl – very good podcast!)    

Here’s my First Completed Quilt!    

This quilt was done from Carol Doak’s Your First Quilt Book, ribbons pattern.  Most color and quilting decisions made by Carol Doak.     


The completed quilt above and a bit of quilting close up below,    


and if you didn’t see it last week, a close up of the binding    


I need to read more carefully Jennifer Ruvalcaba’s episode notes next time for the binding, or not worry about the sleeve so much.    

Additional Resources    

Quilting Dictionary Sites   

 Brawndo website from the movie Idiocracy (not endorsing the product, but look at all the marketing!)  
What do you think about dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO)? 


Special thanks to my encourager commenters: Jill (e-mail), Jill (post on blog), Colleen, Debby, Ingrid, Reeze    

Thanks also to my other new commenters and e-mailers: Sister Diane, Ann, TimeLady, LabMom, driftwood, Kathy, Dru, Tuxedo Designs, Leah Day, Michele Foster, Lana, Ruthann, Christine, Peggi, Christine, Marion    

Specifically check out    

the Scientific Inspiration post from LabMom    

the fibonacci quilt tutorial from driftwood    

the Scientific Quilter Origin story on Quilting Gallery


2.2 SQ Podcast Episode 4 – Quilting the Spectrum

December 6, 2009

Podcast Feed

Many days in science class I stared at the emission spectra posters on the wall.  Which may explain why I am drawn to the black, white and rainbow colored pattern I bought from a local quilt artist, Linda Everhart at Quilting Among Friends and the quilt on the wall at the local quilt show this past summer.

It was no surprise that when I saw the Science Craftster Swap from March that I immediately stopped to look at the spectra scarf made by echo_brook to give to pocketwatch.  Sending a message to Echo_brook, she plans to knit a blanket of the same design. Here is pocketwatch’s scarf found on page 10 (not 15) on her cool art couch.

And here is pocketwatch showing off the purple portion of the knitted scarf.  Why is the design that way with “random” purple and black (and other colors)?  It’s not random, it’s an emission spectra of Argon.  Perfect for the length of a scarf!

The emission spectra is something explored in physics and astronomy.

A tool that breaks up light is a prism, and a tool that has many “microprisms” on a thin sheet is a diffraction grating.  Prisms and diffraction gratings break up light by bending the light that travels at different speeds.  You may see “rainbow glasses” at your favorite science museum or science gift shop – that’s probably a diffraction grating that you’re buying.  Below is a picture of the diffraction grating.

A CD also can serve as a ‘makeshift’ diffraction grating.

For a summer I did research on the hydrogen spectra at Kansas State Physics Education Research Group.  It was the first time I saw a video camera with a diffraction grating taped to the side of it.  We set up our hydrogen gas tube, turned off the lights and took some pictures.  Of spectra.

What is spectra?  Spectra is a visible amount of energy due to moving electrons in an atom.  We put energy into the hydrogen atom by adding electricity, and then the electron moves away from home for a while.  Then the electron gets bored and comes back, but it doesn’t get to keep that fancy energy.  So it emits energy, some of which, is in the form of light – visible light.  And if we have the right tools to break up the light, we can get a specific pattern of colors, which we call a spectra.  Each element has a unique emission spectra due to the number of electrons and where they are located in the atom … and a bunch of other reasons.

If you want to see a periodic table that shows each specific element’s emission spectra in gif form, click here to go to the Penn State Erie site (click on each element to get to the spectra picture).   A periodic table with the symbols and element names is necessary to get the correct element here (unless you were forced to memorize the first 4 rows like I was – even several years after teaching I could remember most of them).  Feel free to search for “emission spectra” or “emission spectrum” in google for more info.

This one is Argon.  I downloaded it from the website to use for my quilt design.

Scientists will use a device called a spectroscope (dark box with a long thin slit and a “ruler” inside to measure the distance of the colors) to determine the elements that make up various gases.  For a tutorial on how to make a CD spectroscope, and a spectroscope with a cereal box and a diffraction grating, click here.

In the meantime …

Placing the diffraction grating in front of my camera lens produces interesting effects.

Using a diffraction grating on my ceiling light fixture shows bulbs of color, which demonstrates that the light source is where the rainbow is coming from.

And this following picture was of a set of 6 LEDs in a row which I liked.

Braving the December evenings I stepped outside to take a picture of the street light with the diffraction grating in front.

Turning to the side slightly about 20 – 30 degrees, you can see the spectra through the diffraction grating.  Notice the lonely cyan light, in addition to the bright green and yellow lights.

The diffraction grating had only about 1000 lines / mm.  More lines would give a higher resolution, but are also (slightly) more expensive.  Also the diffraction grating was a little dirty and I tried to clean it as best as I could.  Sodium has a distinct “double yellow” line(s) that would be easier to see with a more precise diffraction grating.  I am still betting this street lamp is sodium rather than mercury due to the brightness of the yellow here.

How can this relate to quilting?

What about a special scientific quilting design that is pleasing to the eye but also has a “hidden scientific code” inside?

I call this “coin quilt” design “Noble Metallic Spectra” (Chlorine isn’t noble gas, nor metallic, but I like the name anyway).  The symbol names in red at the bottom could be stitched as embroidery or quilting on the quilt itself.

As mentioned in the podcast you could do this as a coin quilt and consolidate the blacks (and maybe some of the colored bars) together, or you could do bias bars as the colored strips appliqued on top.

Letting my imagination run away from me, I produced a ring quilt using the polar coordinate filter on Photoshop.

This one I call “Medals of Elements” because its Copper, Silver, and Gold and traditionally medals are given as copper, silver, and gold (and they were my favorite crayon colors growing up).

Maybe I should draw up a “pattern” for these and become a scientific pattern designer?  Well first I have to create the quilts to know if they will actually work.

Additional resources

Bleach dyes websites from Deb

Websites to check out of other quilting podcasts mentioned in the show

Thanks also to my commenters

  • Janetsnina, IamSusie, Deb, Kelley, Ruthann, Lauretta6, Janet

Feel free to let me know about your scientific adventures in quilting or other crafts!

Keep experimenting!

EDIT:  I created an item with an embroidered spectra – a Sewing Machine Cover.  Find the link here!


1.9 Podcast Episode 3 Color Chromatography & Crochet Cell

November 28, 2009


Podcast Feed

I was visiting Craftster last week and I found some excellent projects that are perfect for this blog & podcast!  The first is Color Chromatography which is something I am passionate and excited about!

Picture from IamSusie on Craftster

If you look at the craftster site, you find lots of wonderful pictures, a description of the process, the inspiration for the designs, and a lot of wonderful discussion about the process by other Craftster users.

Color Chromatography is a very simple idea that has a scientific concept behind it.  Chromatography is a method of separating substances into the different parts that make them up.  Color chromatography is when you take one color and separate the different colors out. 

The way you do this is you take fabric (called a stationary phase) and Sharpie marker (pigment – what you want to separate) and let rubbing alcohol (the mobile phase that moves the pigment) run over the fabric. 

Rubbing alcohol spreads out on the fabric and takes part of the marker pigment and travels it out.  The pigment “sticks” to the alcohol more than it “sticks” to the fabric, so it travels along the wet area of the alcohol until it dries or the alcohol doesn’t spread out anymore. 

A personal experiment with Chromatography because of this post:

I traced a bird from a free coloring page with Sharpies.

After I put rubbing alcohol on the fabric. Notice how I used hangers and binder clips to allow this to dry!  The tail isn’t exactly what I was envisioning (too much alcohol on the tail too quickly), but still looks interesting.

I saw someone who made minimalist trees with green dots, which inspired me to make this.  The leaf part dried overnight and then this is when I am just putting alcohol outside the trunk to color it in.

A geometric design with a view of my work station.  All I drew was criss cross lines.  This is a little ‘washed out’ to to true colors on the fabric.

A before and after of another strip design.  Before:


The other Craftster post that caught my eye this time.  This is not quilting, but crochet, and instead of having a science concept, it has a scientific topic.

Picture from Sally Le Strange from Craftster

If you look at the craftster site, you will be linked to a post that has multiple detailed pictures that describe the parts of the cell accurately.  An A+ project for sure!

My new favorite free motion machine quilting site. 

Picture from Leah Day from 365 Free Motion Filler Designs

This blog showcases a new free motion filler design daily (or about daily) with full explanation, video, description and ideas for using the designs in your quilt.  Leah Day’s videos are short, but informative, showing you just enough of the technique to help you get started. 

She tells you if the pattern is beginning or advanced, in addition to having a video that shows her ideal setup and notions for free motion quilting.  Best thing is – no stencils.  If that intimidates you, she has a couple of DVD’s and worksheets to practice. 

Up to posts in the 90’s she’s come a long way in a short period of time. I haven’t practiced any of these myself, but I am using them as ideas on what I want to quilt, and when I get back to the quilting stage on my tops, I’ll be sure to check out her blog for much needed inspiration and guidance!

After searching I found the pdf website from which I read off the article from Optics and Photonics News 1990.  Good suggestions of homemade dyes!

Thanks to the following podcasters who have left comments (so far)!

Allison Rosen @ Within a Quarter Inch

Ruthann Logsden-Zaroff @ Mirkwood Designs

Kelley @ The Pioneer Quilter

Also thanks to Robyn and Gail who commented in the Big Tent group, in addition to Sarah from “real life” for listening!

Keep Experimenting!

 – SQ