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Quilts and Mathematics in Education

The quilts presented here range from 19th century to contemporary, and mostly feature shapes that would work well with use in the elementary mathematics classroom.  It is both for their geometry and their warmth and approachability that quilts have also been used extensively in K-16 mathematical education.  Math teachers who also quilt abound. 

A great source for mathematical quilts for educational uses is Diana Venters and Elaine Krajenke Ellison’s Mathematical Quilts: No Sewing Required! (1999) and More Mathematical Quilts: No Sewing Required! (2003).  Mathematical concepts demonstrated through quilts in these books include the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Sequence, spirals, tessellations, fractals, right triangles and the Pythagorean theorem, and many other ideas. 

While Venters and Krajenke’s books are excellent, even today, many curricular materials that aim to engage girls with mathematics through quilts and other textiles are unsuccessful. According to Mary Harris, author of Common Threads: Women, Mathematics and Work:

They [publications which appear to aim to link textiles and mathematics] fail because they maintain the stereotype of textiles work as something without intellect, upon which mathematics can be imposed thereby giving it value it did not previously have.  Such work contains no recognition of any inherent mathematics in the making or the use of the textiles and the message that mathematics is something separate and superior to the textiles activity is usually clear.  Such publications often sell themselves as ‘girl-friendly’ with the gendered and patronising message along the lines of ‘Look girls, here is something serious you can do with your pretty stuff.’  (Harris, 111)
 
In using quilts in the classroom, mathematics educators must condemn, rather than promote, gender stereotypes that function to distance women from the sphere of math and technology. 

Resources:

Belcastro, Sarah Marie and Carolyn Yackel.  Making Mathematics with Needlework.  A. K. Peters, 2007.

Harris, Mary.  Common Threads: Women, Mathematics and Work.  Stoke on Trent, UK: Trentham Books, 1997.

Venters, Diana and Elaine Krajenke Ellison.  Mathematical Quilts: No Sewing Required!  San Francisco, Key Curriculum Press, 1999.

Venters, Diana and Elaine Krajenke Ellison.  More Mathematical Quilts: No Sewing Required!  San Francisco: Key Curriculum Press, 2003.

Resources:
Belcastro, Sarah Marie and Carolyn Yackel. Making Mathematics with Needlework. A. K. Peters, 2007.
Harris, Mary. Common Threads: Women, Mathematics and Work. Stoke on Trent, UK: Trentham Books, 1997.
Venters, Diana and Elaine Krajenke Ellison. Mathematical Quilts: No Sewing Required! San Francisco, Key Curriculum Press, 1999.
Venters, Diana and Elaine Krajenke Ellison. More Mathematical Quilts: No Sewing Required! San Francisco: Key Curriculum Press, 2003.

Quilt Title

Artist Name     Contributer

1800     Location, Place

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer nec odio. Praesent libero. Sed cursus ante dapibus diam. Sed nisi. Nulla quis sem at nibh elementum imperdiet. Duis sagittis ipsum. Praesent mauris. Fusce nec tellus sed augue semper porta.

Quilt Size: 61 inches x 61 inches

Fabrics: Cotton, Geometric, Novelty, Solid/plain

Construction: Machine Piecing

Quilting Techniques: Machine quilting

1-1-0

  • Museum

    DAR Museum

    DAR Museum

  • Museum

    Michigan State University Museum

    Michigan Quilt Project

  • Documentation Project

    Louisiana Quilt Documentation Project

    Louisiana Regional Folklife Program

  • Documentation Project

    Michigan Quilt Project

    Michigan State University

  • Museum

    National Quilt Museum

  • Documentation Project

    Connecticut Quilt Search

  • Documentation Project

    Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project, MassQuilts

    New England Quilt Museum

  • ca.1840

    Mathematical Star...

    Woodward, Frances B...

  • ca. 1880

    Mariner's Compass...

    Decker, Sarah Seymo...

  • 1993

    Charm Quilt

    Hannan, Mary Sue

  • Grandmother's Flo...

    Epperson, Babs Titt...

  • 1909

    Hexagons

    Haynes, Sarah A.

  • 1999

    Kaleidoscope Chal...

    McCormick, Stephani...

  • 1985

    Blue Jeans Quilt

    VanDenburg, Jane Is...

  • Basic Squares

    Dison, Barbara

  • 2008

    Blushing Triangle...

    Hansen, Gloria

  • 2004

    Almost Amish

    Werner, Jane

  • Triangles

    Dison, Barbara

  • 1876-1900

    Triangles

  • 1876-1900

    Pieced Arrows

    Maker, unknown

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