Friday, March 06, 2009

How an Engineer Plans a Quilt

I've been commissioned to make a quilt for a wedding gift and have been having fun playing around with different ideas. I thought I'd share a little bit of my process.

First I copy and paste snapshots of my fabrics into a basic MSPaint file. I ordered these for the project so I had the photos in my etsy order.

Then I plan out the quilt using a tiny grid in Excel and paste in bits of the fabric photos to get a feel for how it looks. I thought I might try a little stripe action so I made this mockup first:

But I wasn't feeling it, so I tried a variation on Alissa's Sparks Baby Quilt pattern.

This is a lot closer! But I wasn't sold on the busy blocks, so I tried a more literal interpretation of the Sparks quilt inspired by AmandaJean's Flea Market Fancy quilt. (Which was inspired by Alissa, full circle quilt inspiration!)

Perfect! The next step is to figure out how to cut all the fabric, which I add to my notes by the mockup. For this quilt, the center squares are cut 4.5" x 4.5". The sides of each block start as a 4.5" x 5" piece and the tops/bottoms start as a 5" x 8.5" piece, which I will cut depending on how off-center I want the center block. Since there are seven fabrics and twelve blocks, this comes out to:

The sashing is a little more straightfoward - 3.5 x 8" vertical pieces between all the blocks, longer 3.5" strips between the rows, and enough 4.5" strips to assemble for the border.

Since I like this specific layout I made little notes by each block for how to cut the side pieces and tops/bottoms to get the right blocks (this will make sense if you look at the tutorial for the Sparks quilt). Combine it all together, and I print out an 8.5 x 11" sheet that looks like this:

Click to enlarge.

When I'm done with the quilt, I'll stick this in my "finished projects" binder in case I ever want to reference these measurements. And this process also holds me over when I don't have time to sew!

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