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By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics

Math Monday banner02 600px Math Monday: Mathematical Quilting

Quilting is one of the everyday activities in which people use mathematics without necessarily realizing it. Geometric thinking is required to make any modular quilt pattern, but some quilters also choose mathematical subject matter for their quilts.

quilt camilla fox octiamonds Math Monday: Mathematical Quilting

This quilt by Camilla Fox shows a symmetric pattern constructed from the sixty six octiamonds– all the shapes that can be made by joining eight equilateral triangles edge to edge.

quilt camilla fox dragon curve Math Monday: Mathematical Quilting

And here is a quilt based on a Dragon Curve, also by Camilla Fox. The dragon curve is the shape you get if you fold a long strip of paper in half repeatedly, then open it up so all the creases are 90 degrees, as shown below. The design in the quilt above can be derived from this idea, using a much longer strip of paper, and using the first and second segment as the legs of an isocseles right triangle, then the third and fourth segment, etc.

dragon curve paper Math Monday: Mathematical Quilting

See all of George Hart’s Math Monday columns

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.

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