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07/22/2011 / thriftomancer

I’ve got a plan!

All those wee squares I cut in the last post? I’m close to finished cutting and finally know what I’m to do with them.

The idea is to use up as many of the squares as possible in one go (using all of them at once is a foolishly high expectation) while also using up some of the colors I rarely use and have an overabundance of. In this case natural, undyed linen fits the bill. If I use enough, I may be able to cut my stash back down to three copy boxes!

A third prong of this stash-busting onslaught is that I’ll be using a pieced cotton batting in order to finally utilize the rather sizable chunks of batting left over from past quilts. By the time I’m done, there will be a nice patch of new empty space in my room that I’m quite looking forward too. (And will likely fill with new material distressingly fast.)

Right now my design is thus: A 56″ x 71″ quilt for my car. The top will be a grid of 2″ squares in various colors floating on a natural linen field. I’ll achieve that effect by having 1.5″ undyed sashing between each squares and 2.5″ and 3″ borders. The backing I’m undecided about, but it will likely eat up about a hundred or so squares and most of my leftover muslin from old test garments. Haven’t made any commitments though.

Once out of the conceptual phase and to actual designing, I did a disproportionately large amount of math before deciding to choose the 1.5″:2″ sashing-square ratio over the other three options I was considering. (3″:2″, 2″:2″, and just to do the whole thing in postage stamps.) It should fit my target dimensions perfectly and look good to boot. There’ll be a lot of piecing, but I think I’m prepared for it.

Now have some math. This is how you figure out what dimensions are needed where in a quilt top. Get some scrap paper and work along:

height – 2(border) = inner height
width – 2(border) = inner width

inner width/(blocks + sashings) = X

X will probably have a decimal attached. (Ex: 18.57) Ignore the decimal and just use the integer value of X for:

[X * (blocks + sashings)] + one block = inner width

You do the same with the inner height for the vertical measure of blocks and sashings.

My calculations looked like this:

71″ – 2(3″) = 65″
65″/(1.5“ + 2“) = 18.57
(18 * 3.5″) + 2″ = 65″ = (19 * 2″) + (18 * 1.5″)

56” – 2(2.5”) = 51”
51”/3.5” = 14.57
(14 * 3.5”) + 2” = 51” = (15 * 2”) + (14 * 1.5”)

That means 19 rows of squares and 18 sashings on the vertical, 15 rows of squares and 14 sashings on the horizontal. Then, you take those figures and determine how many pieces of each type total you’ll need:

2 vertical borders (2.5” x 65”)
2 horizontal borders (3” x 56”)
14 vertical sashings (1.5” x 65”)
15 * 19 = 285 2”x2” squares
15 * 18 = 270 1.5”x2” horizontal sashings

And after that, you need to add on seam allowance because all this time you were working with the dimensions of the finished piece. That just means you need to tack on another half inch to each measurement. (The 2” x 2” squares I’ve been cutting are actually 2.5” x 2.5”, I’ve just been reporting their finished size because it’s easier.) It’s a little thing, but don’t forget it or else your quilt top will be a wildly different size from what you expected or prepared for.

On a related note, this set of dimensions is the fourth one I worked through. I did these calculations from start to finish on three different sets of dimensions before I decided on this. In light of that, I can confidently say that quilting involves way more math then it should and a good grasp of geometry will always be your friend, especially if you make stuff.


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