It’s time to take the pattern design and make it useful. Post #1 and Post #2 gave brief explanations of how to use a draw program to create a design. Turning that design into something real is the best part. It’s where your hard work starts paying off. It’s also where we get to do Math. Yeah, I know. Math! Don’t panic. Everything’s going to work out.

Let’s start with our easy block from Post #2. First, determine the finished size of the piece you want to make. For this example, I’m going to make a 6 1/2″ block from the single unit (three HST’s and one square). Next, breakdown the individual elements. In this block we have four equal sections making our job simple. Here’s how it all comes together:NOTE: If you right click anywhere in the image above, you can save or print this information. Please feel free to do so if you find it helpful.

If you were keeping your drawing to scale, you’re already ahead. You can simply note the size of each piece and multiply. For instance, let’s say your solid square is 2″ x 2″ and you’re working in 1/2 scale. Multiply 2″ by 2 and you get 4″. If you’re scale was 1/4, you would multiply by 4 to get 8″.

We started with a simple block for this example, but the same process applies for other blocks. Determine the size you want your project to be, separate your design into individual elements and figure out the math for each piece size. An important reference tool for quilting, and one I find indispensable, is C&T Publishing’s All-in-One Quilter’s Reference Tool. It includes Magic Cutting Numbers which comes in very handy for the type of work we’re doing here.

But what if you have something asymmetrical, something abstract, more “modern”? No problem. It will take a little more effort but the result will be well worth it. You’ll have a few extra decisions to make along the way, but if you’ve gotten this far, you’re fully capable. As before, if you’ve been keeping your drawing scaled, you’re ahead of the game.I’ve decided on an 8″ square. I’ve figured the sizes for the pieces around the edges. However, there’s a trouble spot with that pink rectangle. It’s time for some design decisions. There are multiple options for handling this area. The red lines show seam options.Personally, I prefer Version 1 which is applique the pink rectangle on top of the pieced section. One reason I like this version is the added bit of dimension you get. But you could use any of them and it will still look nice.Now work through the math for all of your pieces. Remember, no seam allowances right now. This is the moment when you realize how handy it is to work your design in scale and not just willy nilly shapes. Much easier to let the program tell you what sizes these shapes are–even if you need to do a bit of stretching, shrinking or rearranging to make it work.

Once you’ve figured it out, it’s time to add those seam allowances (1/4″ to each side or 1/2″ to each dimension) and figure out the sequence for piecing. Here’s how I’ve worked up this piece:Depending on your design, you may need to break up some pieces into smaller units to make the piecing easier. Decide where you want the seam and then treat those two pieces as separate. Notice pieces D and I in the example above. Once you’ve finalized all your decisions and done all the math, you can start cutting and sewing.

Now, let’s say you work up an 8″ block but decide you really want this to be a wall hanging. The easiest way to enlarge it is to work in multiples of your design, in this case, multiples of 8– 16″, 24″, 32″, 40″. Go back to the **finished** piece sizes to do the multiplication. Then add the seam allowances to your new piece sizes. **Do not** multiply the cutting sizes or you’ll have a mess. Remember, seam allowances don’t multiply.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in these three posts. Most of it centers on the mechanics of things. We really need one more post to round this out. So, next week, I’ll be back with a post about the creative side of all this. I’ll include some thoughts on color and fabric choices, as well as a few tips for the “artsy”, asymmetrical, modern look.

I hope you’ve found these posts interesting. If nothing else, you’ve seen behind the scenes of some of the work around here. If you’ve caught the bug and want to do a lot more of this, I would recommend purchasing Serif DrawPlus or PagePlus. Their software is an incredible deal when compared to Adobe’s Illustrator and InDesign. They’re also far more intuitive and user friendly. I love them and use them all the time. If you want something with a little more muscle but still want free, check out Inkscape. You’ll want to watch some videos and tutorials though, so you don’t get overwhelmed by all capabilities.