Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mid-Week Math Post: FAQs

With over a thousand quilters checking this blog every week there are going to be a lot of questions about the pattern math and pattern format. We had the same questions last year in the Civil War Block of the Month too so I am going to try to answer the FAQ's here:

Arithmetic has never been my skill area.


The whole thing becomes terribly complex when you realize more than half you followers use the metric system. I have to compliment those used to that system who indulge us Americans with our inches and eighth inches.
If you need a conversion chart: meters to yards, inches to centimeters, etc. go to the Moda webpage
where they have a "Tips, Guides & Measurements" section. Click here:!OpenPage
Then click over to the right on Metric Conversions.


Connie's Crafts
Civil War BOM
56 Blocks 8"

Becky and I discussed making these larger but then the finished sampler gets too big. So why 8"? Because WE like 8"---a pretty good reason. We love the way they look in the finished quilt.

I know it makes it hard to put a nine-patch in an 8" block. In some cases I've converted nine-patches---blocks divisible by 3--- into blocks divisible by 2. I've avoided some blocks with good names that are just too complex for 8"---and I've simplified others.


 The 1/16" measurement would make the various blocks more accurate if you are fussy. I use the 1/8" default setting in EQ to draft these.You could go into your pattern software and convert the default drafting measurement to 1/16".  I could do this too but then a lot of you would tell me you can't even see the 1/16" measurement on your ruler. (Neither can I.) So 1/8" is my story and I am sticking to it.
WELL NOT FOR LONG. By October Becky has changed my mind so each week I'll give you 1/16th" measurements for the blocks in red. The next question: Where do you find a ruler with 1/16th" measurements in France?


This is an age-old problem with samplers. If the blocks finish up different sizes (some measuring 8-1/2", some 8-3/8", etc)  you can ease when you set them together and any puffiness is going to quilt out.
One reason to sash the blocks is that you can make up that 1/4" difference in the sashing, using a bit more than 1/4" seam allowance for the larger blocks and a bit less for the smaller blocks.

Here are a few sets from the Civil War BOM that solve the difference problems.

Susi-Ra used strips.
Sort the blocks by size and stack them according to size.

Marge Pearson
Add corner triangles and trim so blocks are all the same size.
Pieced those corner triangles.

Just Cruisin MBK
Set medallion fashion and put the smaller blocks, for example,
in the center, larger in the borders.



Every quilter needs to be able to draft patterns.
You can redraft these with a pencil, a ruler and graph paper. Just remember you have to redraw each piece and THEN add the seam allowance. Draw the pattern on the graph paper full size. Then do the math to add 1/4".

Note from reader Pataksag: "Another invaluable resource for pattern drafting, and redrafting is Patchwork Patterns, by Jinny Beyer, 1979." I agree. It's a geometry course for people who forgot to pay attention in highschool.

The demented bunny above says: "This is good for you. It builds character and drafting skills."

Your best bet for redrafting is computer aided drafting. You should invest in a computer software program. For PC's I use EQ and BlockBase. For MACs there are other quilt pattern software programs.

Each to her own operating system.

The graphic above is a snapshot of reader operating systems---the various devices you readers are using to access the site. It says 2% read the blog on your I-Phones, 1% use LINUX: a wide variety of systems. I have no advice on quilt software for Linux or Blackberries.

Like the hedgehog I only know one thing.
BlockBase is a stand-alone pattern identification and drafting software program for PC's that I did with Electric Quilt. Find the yellow box over in the righthand sidebar and click on that for ordering information. It works with EQ and I usually import the block into EQ and recolor it.

I decided not to do those this year as that was the most work in the whole posting. If the block is really complicated (hopefully---not too many of those) I'll give you a diagram, but most of these are basic.


This is not easy to answer. You have to figure out a way that your computer and your printer will work together in picking up copy from a website.

Here is what I do when I want to print something off a website (like an airline schedule, pattern instructions or an address.)
  • Open a new word file and give it a name. For example: GMCHOICE Block1.
  • Go back to the blog. Using your cursor and the shift key highlight all the copy you want to save and then hit the copy keys---in PC: Control and C.
  • Go to the empty word file and hit the paste keys. In PC: Control and V.
  • The copy should appear---pictures and all---in the Word file.
  • Print from the Word file.
  • Save this file if you want to in a folder named GRANDMOTHERS CHOICE BOM


I don't give you the rotary cutting instructions in PDF form for a reason.
Once the copy is in PDF format it takes on a life of its own. While it's embedded in this blog users have to read it in context.  You may make it into a PDF if you like, but please don't email it around or post it.


I WILL be giving you a PDF for templates. The biggest problem with a PDF is that every printer in the world prints the templates a different size. Many of you are going to have to learn how to re-size these on your printer.
Jennifer suggests: "When you print a PDF there are options for page scaling. Select "none" to have it print at the same scale as the original PDF."
I print out the PDF, take my ruler and measure the pieces. If they are too small I go back into my PRINT command and tell it to print at 110%. Trial and error..... Wasting paper.... No easy answer.

I'll stick a link to these FAQs over in the right hand column and add to them as you ask questions in the comments.


  1. You have been very patient and generous to produce this FAQ sheet, i am sure it will be very helpful to the many new followers.I am glad i bought Blockbase ( book and computer programme) last year. I am trying this years blocks at 6 and 3 inches. The six inch because i didn't want another big quilt and the 3inch because they are so cute and fun.

  2. Sheila---All I can say is FABULOUS IDEA (And 3" are you NUTZ?). Do post photos.

  3. This looks like a great project and I will follow along even if I don't eventually commit to doing it (too many UFOs!). When you print a PDF there are options for page scaling. Select "none" to have it print at the same scale as the original PDF.

    I also have to say that I'm very offended by your use of "demented" to describe the rabbit applique. Like "retard," this is a very hateful word that has often been used against people with intellectual disabilities with the intention to hurt and is still hurtful when used casually like that. I'm sure that's not what you intended, so I ask you to reconsider and change your language.

  4. I usually fumble my way through the computer and it's processes, so I am totally thrilled to see the 'copy and paste' method you use is the same as mine! I feel validated! Thank you! :o)

    And I think Demented Bunny is cute as a button, name and all! People need to get a grip! Words are only hateful if that was their intent. If you read hate into a simple word, then you had hate in your mind to begin with!

    Now I'm going to go sew something! Happy day! :O)

  5. I too have Block Base (and EQ7) and last year it was invaluable with the CW quilt. I am going to be making 6" blocks as well (use less fabric and that size block prints out nicely on A4 paper too)

    Sheila may or may not talk me into making 3" blocks, I haven't decided yet :)

    At the beginning of last year's BOW I followed the construction diagrams but after about a month I found that I could look at the block and work it out for myself.

  6. An other invaluable resource for pattern drafting, and redrafting is Patchwork Patterns, by Jinny Beyer, 1979.

  7. Thanks for the suggestions about books and page scaling. I've incorporated them. But I am going to have to stick with my jokes about
    1) demented Bette Davis and bunny
    2) visual impairments
    3) Joan Crawford's double martini
    4) computer geeks

  8. Because I knew no local quilters when I began doing patchwork, I had to draft every pattern I made. I was thrilled to discover Jinny Beyer's book, and she taught me to draft anything any size--and I recommended the book and passed the knowledge on to others. Now, we have Block Base and EQ and those of us who've been quilting 30 years or so can reminisce about the "old days"--and spend more time creating!

  9. I'm so glad that you noted the block number in BlockBase, so I could look it up and print out the rotary cutting instructions. I'm still debating on the size--if I don't do the 8 inches, I will do 4" blocks to keep things simple. Thanks to BlockBase, I won't have to strain my brain because I am mathematically challenged also.

  10. I've already cut out the first block. Can't wait to do more. I have a question: will there be any extra blocks? I really hate square quilts and would like to make it into a rectangle large enough to fit a queen bed.
    Of course, I can make dups of some of them, but it's fun to have all unique blocks. Oh heck, I could go into BB and get more out couldn't I?
    Anyway, I really find square quilts pretty useless unless they are tiny and hang on the wall......thanks so much for this fun project....arden

  11. Since I am hand piecing and appliqueing, I have to redraft each pattern. I do not use the computer or Block Base. What I do use is graph paper that has darker blue lines separating the inches. It can come in 10, eight, six or four smaller squares per inch. I can choose which dimensions work well with the divisions in the given block. Ex: if the block is a nine patch, a six square to the inch is best since I can easily divide that into thirds; if it is a four patch or a sixteen patch, use eight sq. to the inch and a five patch can use 10 sq. to the inch. Works out just fine.

  12. The blue and brown Civil War quilt was made by me. By adding the triangles, I got the quilt large enough for a generous queen size. Marge Pearson