One of the reasons why I picked up a compass & protractor set last summer is for this: I want to make a 5 pointed star for one of my quilts in the “Twilight in the Bronx”. Yesterday I figured it out. I’d been doing the math incorrectly. I’d been looking to make the center point a 22 1/2 degree angle and it never worked out. Yesterday I started fiddling and realized that with the 22 1/2 degree angle I’d get too many arc sections not quite what I’m looking for. I began playing with circles, angles and the compass and oh yeah, the math and figured to get what I’m looking for I need to rework the math. Not quite remembering how & why I was looking for that 22 1/2 degree angle I went simple (isn’t that usually the best!) and divided 360/5 and came up with 72. So using the protractor (the pic to the left below) I marked the 72 degree angle with my protractor, then marked the 144 degree mark and measured the distance with the compass and came up with the above photo.
I worked at drawing the lines for quite a while until I achieved the above 5 pointed star. See the little eraser sitting just below the compass – one of my hard and fast quilterly rules: Erasers, like seam rippers, are a quilters best friend. I used the eraser quite a lot through the process of figuring this out. Yes, I could have done this in EQ6, however I need to figure out how to draft this on fabric later on so working the star shape out on paper was essential for me. I’m sure my drafting teacher and my geometry teacher would be proud…and maybe one of my algebra teachers…
Next I started playing with more circles & arcs. I think what will happen next is that where that ginko leaf shape is now will end up being 2 star point shapes and I’ll build out from there. Playing with the compass, protractor and rulers is helpful in other quilterly ways too. More often than not as a quilter I’d like to just go to the computer with whatever program I have and get the shape I need with the different tools that are available. As quilters we DO have a good understanding of geometry whether or not we realize it and can work out some amazing math problems. We think with numbers like 36 (yard) and 44 (width of the fabric); we can work out how many 5 1/2″ square we can get from a fat quarter with alarming speed (thanks to our 3rd grade teachers for helping us memorize our multiplication & division tables).
We can work out hexagons and octagons and equilateral triangles with relative ease. Okay so no we can’t but we can figure out how much backing we need for a 80 x 100 quilt and why we need that much.
No this isn’t a math/drafting class for quilters though I’d be happy to step out how I got here and how I get to a finished quilt.