I am bad at math and I just need an answer
October 29, 2020 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Hi! I am sewing a thing (long furby sea monster) and I need some help figuring out how to space little pieces that will be sewn into a seam 1) evenly along the length of the seam, and 2) so that the space between them will be equal between one piece and the next, minus the seam allowance. There's a tl;dr, picture, and

Here are some maybe helpful sketches. In the top leftmost picture, I'm dealing with the piece under the head, where there's some multicolored fabric, some scaley fabric, and the dark purple pieces are the feet.

The two pieces of fabric are each 12.5 inches long. They're going to be sewn together with four 1.125 inch wide pieces of felt in between them to make feet that go sideways down the body. ALL seam allowances are 0.25 inches.

There are four sections like this that will then all be sewed together to make the length of the body.

If the feet were exactly 1 inch wide, this would be an easy problem: Foot 1 starts 1.25" in, each foot is separated by 2". That gives 2" between each foot, including once you sew all the sections together (because the 0.5" is the seam allowance and the 1" on each piece will add up to make 2").

However, the feet are pretty much exactly 1.25" wide. So how can I space them so that they are evenly spaced along the body? Am I right that that quarter inch apiece is going to bite me if I don't consider it now?

Thank you. I have tried my best to make this understandable. I know it's a lot.

tl;dr (maybe?): how do I space four 1.25" things along a 12.5" side so that they are even when joined up to another 12.5" side with 0.25" seam allowances?
posted by fiercecupcake to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can definitely work this out with algebra, but here's the less-mathy way: draw up a diagram of the example case you understand, with measurements marked. Place the centers of the feet exactly where they would go in your example case. They'll still be evenly spaced.
posted by zeptoweasel at 1:25 PM on October 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The center of the first foot (that is, 5/8" from each edge of the foot) needs to be 1 3/4" from the edge of the fabric. Then there will be 3" between the center of that foot and the center of the next foot. The center of the last foot should be 1 3/4" from the edge of the fabric as well. When the edges are sewn together with a 1/4 allowance, the feet on the edges will be 3" from center point to center point.
posted by Ausamor at 1:29 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

how do I space four 1.25" things along a 12.5" side so that they are even when joined up to another 12.5" side with 0.25" seam allowances?

I only read the tldr. Here is my good-enough eyeball technique:

Pin the seam allowance in place (or ignore it). Fold the 12.5" thing in half, fold it in half again. Now you have evenly-spaced quadrants. Use a pin to mark each quadrant. One at a time, fold each quadrant in half. Mark the half-way point of each quadrant. Center your 1.25" things on those points. Voila!
posted by aniola at 1:36 PM on October 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: May the Furby god bless all of you! These answers will help me immensely. I've been putting off doing this step because I couldn't figure it out. Now hopefully the hardest part will be sewing faux fur to felt to novelty foiled cotton :D

Thinking of the feet as their centers is a big help.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:45 PM on October 29, 2020

If I were you, I'd mark out the distance and cut some pieces of paper to match the width of you pieces, then space them along, mark them on the distance and transfer that to the piece.

In woodworking, you'd mark out the interval with things called dividers, which look like a compass, except points on both ends. Then you'd “walk” it along to find the center points of your increments- adjusting the span of the dividers until it came out where you want.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:50 PM on October 29, 2020

Is there some reason you can't sew the pieces into one long scaly strip and one long multicolor strip first, and then attach the feet and assemble it into a tube? (Also nthing using the center points of the feet.)
posted by yeahlikethat at 2:14 PM on October 29, 2020

Response by poster: There are feet on *both* sides of the seam, I just elided that for simplicity.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:18 PM on October 29, 2020

Response by poster: Oh, and also, it's hard to stuff a 5' long tube properly. I know this from stuffing a 13' tube a few weeks ago. It was terrible. In pieces it is, this time.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:19 PM on October 29, 2020

There is a relevant tool! A buttonhole gauge or divider marks a bunch of evenly-spaced points, you stretch it out until as many feet as you want fit in the length you have.

(Nice when shirt making to put one button where the shirt wants to gap, and one at the collar, and the rest evenly spaced wherever that happens to be.)
posted by clew at 3:31 PM on October 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

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