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Egyptian Equation Quilt
Study ancient Egyptian numbers and cut numbers out of fabric to make a quilt pattern.

Edith Sweeney, Glazer Elementary, Detroit



  • 12" x 12" fabric, one for each numeral (we used fabric with African-inspired patterns)
  • 2 pieces of muslin, each 45" wide and 2 yards long
  • felt 2 yards by 2 yards
  • Wonder Under or similar heat-activated material
  • straight pins
  • batten or filling material, 4 yards of 45" wide
  • backing fabric 4 yards of 45" wide
  • paper
  • tag board (for stencils of numbers)
  • iron
  • sewing machine
  • large quilting hoops or frame, if desired
  • sewing needles
  • thread
  • scissors

This project took 2 weeks, or ten 60 minute sessions, not counting clean-up time.

Step 1 -- Ancient Egyptian number symbols were introduced [Click to see Number chart] The teacher made large size number symbols with definitions to display.

Step 2 -- Students picked a number to translate into Egyptian numbers

Step 3 -- Students wrote their numbers on sheets of paper

Step 4 -- Large stencils were made of each ancient Egyptian number symbol

Step 5 -- Using stencils, the students traced the symbols they selected on a sheet of white paper.

Step 6 -- Using a hot, dry iron, student pressed Wonder Under on reverse side of fabric squares. This is an adhesive which also stiffens the fabric and prevents edges from fraying when cut.

Step 7 -- All four muslin panels were hung on the wall, adjoining each other on the long sides. (The center two panels had been prepared by the teacher in advance, with a large map of Africa cut from felt and placed in the middle. Egypt was highlighted on the map by contrasting stitching.)

Step 8 -- Students pinned their paper with numbers on the 12" fabric squares.

Step 9 -- The teacher cut the symbols out of the fabric squares for students

Step 10 -- Students pinned symbols onto the muslin fabric

Step 11 -- When students pinned all symbols in place, they were machine-stitched by the teacher; four panels were also sown together by the teacher to form the quilt top.

Step 12 -- A batten filling is placed between the quilt top and a bottom piece of fabric and stitched together by the teacher

Step 13 -- Students are asked to hand stitch through the quilt layers around each symbol to give the symbols a raised look, and finish the quilt.


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