Saturday, March 3, 2018

Cricut Maker Meets Electric Quilt 8!

My "Maizie" Cricut Maker has met her new BFF, my Electric Quilt 8! Electric Quilt 8 (EQ 8) is a fantastic quilt design/layout program. is for MAC or PC!

So, how do I use this program with my Cricut Maker? I was amazed at how easy it is. I think you will be as well. Just remember, the Cricut Maker is an electronic rotary cutter! And that is the "key!"
Let's take a basic block and see how this works.

A word of caution, EQ 8 does have a learning curve! It is not impossible, but it does take some time and effort to learn! 

I was able to create this wall quilt, "Maizie's Path" in EQ 8 in minimal amount of time. The block is a standard EQ block, sized to 9". It can be rotary cut

The functionality of the EQ program even calculates fabric yardage for me! But, the hidden gem is the ability to print rotary cutting directions. In the EQ 8 program it is pretty straight forward to find. Simply select the PRINT & EXPORT tab. Highlight the block desired (note the green outline). and select ROTARY CUTTING. 

The EQ software calculates the exact measurements needed for the patches to make up the 9 " block. 
I can set it up to show which patches are which.....

And it gives me the precise rotary cutting measurements for my 9" block! (Are you starting to see the trend here?) I just discovered that if I set my Preferences in EQ 8 to not round up the sizes I actually see the decimals needed for DS---sweet!)
And this is where EQ 8 meets my Maizie Maker! These directions can translate into Design Space files for cutting on my Maker! But first, I must open Design Space to a new project page. 

PATCH A is pretty straight forward. It is a simple rectangle. From the TOOLS bar, I selected SHAPES and then the SQUARE. It will appear in black, I'll change that later!


To get the rectangle, I needed to adjust the width and the length of my square. The beauty of the EQ 8 directions is that they already include the seam allowance! It is just a matter of plugging in the dimensions. Let's do this! 
1. Unlock (open) the LOCK in LOCK PROPORTIONS.
2. Type the HEIGHT in the HEIGHT box (2.750).
3. Type the WIDTH in the WIDTH box (9.5).

I have now created the correct size Patch A! I usually change the color to coordinate with the color scheme I created in EQ 8--makes cutting more efficient as well. In this case, I did change the color to a creme. 

With the rectangle highlighted, from the Layers menu, I selected the small circle. The pop-out menu allowed me to select the color closest to my fabrics. 

And on to Block B! This block actually yields two half-square triangles. I just love this little bit of DS magic!
Again, I selected SHAPES : SQUARE.

And I set the HEIGHT and WIDTH...
1. Lock (close) the LOCK in LOCK PROPORTIONS.
2. Type the HEIGHT in the HEIGHT box (3.104)
3. Tap ENTER on the keyboard (the WIDTH will set automatically since it is proportional!)

This is the part that makes me really happy! From the SHAPES TOOL I selected the SCORE LINE.

With the SCORE LINE still selected, I rotated it 45 degrees. To do this I TYPE 45 in the ROTATE box.

I then resized the selected SCORE LINE to the same size as the square (3.104 x 3.104). 

I moved the line over the SQUARE. Now, I SELECTED both the line and the square. Finally, from the menu bar I chose SELECT : ALIGN : CENTER.

Are you waiting for the DS's coming! From the LAYERS menu, I highlighted the SCORE LIN, selecting it. Then I clicked on the image of the score tool.

From the pop-out menu, I selected the image for CUT, changing the score to a cut line.

This just makes me so happy! It is a CUT LINE! I can cut the two half square triangles! Amazing, right?

Finally, with the patch and the cut lines selected, I attached the lines to the shape by using the ATTACH tool at the bottom of the LAYERS MENU. 

I just love this!!! It will be exact and I do not have to worry about measuring twice before I cut. These will be perfect half-square triangles. But I still need to create PATCH C. 

PATCH C was created by EQ 8 so that it will yield quarter square triangles; you read correctly. The best part is that creating this patch is not much different than the last one. 
Looking at Patch C, there are two ways to approach it. I can start from scratch following the basic steps for the half square triangles or I can use what I have! (Hey, I am all about saving time! DS is my ally here.) And it leaves more time to quilt. So, I am going to select PATCH B from the Layers menu and go from there!

With the patch and diagonal line highlighted, I chose EDIT : COPY from the menu bar. 

Then, back to EDIT : PASTE.

Voila! A second PATCH B appeared on the on the DS page. But, I need it to be PATCH C! For this to happen, there are three things that must change. The first is the size. 

With the second Patch B selected,  I resized it proportionally to 5.057. 
1. Lock (close) the LOCK in LOCK PROPORTIONS.
2. Type the HEIGHT in the HEIGHT box (5.707)
3. Tap ENTER on the keyboard (the WIDTH will set automatically since it is proportional!)

The second change is the addition and manipulation of a second diagonal cutting line--going to make an "x".  I selected only the line of the resized patch from the layers menu. ( WAS a score line, but now will creates the diagonal cut.)

From the menu, I chose FLIP : HORIZONTAL. The second line should now be perpendicular to the first.

Now I selecedt the patch, the first diagonal line and the second diagonal line. place them correctly, I  chose ALIGN : CENTER. 

I am doing the happy dance here. Mazie Maker can now cut quarter square triangles sized exactly for the block created in EQ!

Before I go on....I actually "lost" one of my diagonal lines at this point. The fix was simple!

First, I highlighted the patch on the LAYERS MENU. I then selected ARRANGE and SEND TO BACK. There were my lines! 

And I cannot forget to ATTACH the diagonal cutting lines to my patch! With the patch and diagonal cut lines selected, LAYERS MENU : ATTACH insures that they stay together!

Finally, I changed the color of PATCH C to coordinate with the colors from EQ 8. 

Working in the LAYERS MENU, I selected the patch and the the SMALL CIRCLE to its right. I then chose a color that was close to my fabric choice. 

All that is left is to save the file and then send it to Maizie so that she can do her magic! I seldom save more than one block to a file in DS. When I am ready to cut the fabric for the project I let DS lay the patches on the fabric. For multiples, I adjust my project copies to the number of patches my design needs. But....that is the magic of another day! 

Until next time....don't stop sorting your scraps and creating your gems! 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

It's a Maker: Calculating fabric measurements...

In my last post, I shared how I "translated" a fantastic pattern to Design Space speak. But, it was simply a block. And, for the most part, a block does not a quilt make. So, how do I determine the amount of fabric that I will need to make my last project using the Bright Morning Block from Patchwork Square. You can find that project on my blog by clicking here.

Using the blocks created in my last post, I depend on Design Space to guide my fabric needs. I'll use the brown blocks in the foreground as my example:

Please, note that all similar shapes are grouped. It is so much easier to move or hide shapes! 

From the upper right corner of the DS, select the MAKE IT button.

I am not going to cut these shapes yet....I still need to get my fabric together! I just want to look at how Design Space lays the shapes on the mat automatically.

Looking at this layout and planning to make only one block, this would waste fabric. In DS 3, I can move the bottom two squares to a better location. Less waste!

For a single block, I need a cut of fabric 12" wide and 7" long. I used the markings on the visual mat to determine that amount.  But, I want to do a runner of three blocks. The software can automatically multiply the squares to create the same block times 3. 

Select PROJECT COPIES and designate 3---3 blocks using these same cuts. Then select APPLY. 
Look what happens with the default 12 x 12 mat.....

I now have 3 cutting mats; the open space means either wasted fabric or secondary cuts that I do not want to make. Cricut has designed the Maker to be super efficient. Let's see how....

Choose the drop-down arrow next to MATERIAL SIZE and scroll to the 12 x 24" mat at the bottom. SELECT it. My layout now looks like this:

I am so much happier! Excess fabric is inevitable..I just want to decrease the amount. This layout and mat the longer mat allow me to use a cut of fabric 12" x 24" long (or 12 x 42 -- and save the leftover!) 

But what if I want 6 of this particular block? Simple....just increase the PROJECT COPIES to 6 and be sure to select the 12 x 24" mat. 

Looking at the mats, I note that one mat needs a length of 22.5" and the other needs a length of 18.5". Add the two together and the length of fabric is 41". Again, a minimum cut of 12 x 42"!

I'll be honest, I have tried to lay my blocks out in DS using a custom template. I was not successful for a number of reasons. But, by letting DS do the magic, I maintain the accuracy of the cuts and the integrity of my mat. Plus, I can consistantly multiply my blocks for each and every project. And, finally, by not loading the DS file with extra shapes, the saved file is smaller and quicker to open. 

Before I run off to cut my runner blocks, I have to say...these cuts or my calcuations do not include borders. These are simply the blocks themselves. My border length and widths are calculated based upon my particular project. In creating the 3 block runner, I most likely would not use any sashing, just stitch block to block. I envision my side borders a minimum of 36" long and 3"wide with the top and bottom borders close to 18" x 3". But, I am funny, often my projects take on a life of their own and border plans change! 

I have found that sorting through the facets of DS actually opens the hidden gems of potential of this program.  I hope that this look at calculating fabrics for your quilting will help you see the possibilities that exist for DS and for quilting! 

Until next time....keep sorting those scraps and generating the gems!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

It's a Maker: Patchwork Square Patterns in Design Space

Did I tell you that Maizie Cricut Maker has a new BFF? Yup, and I have a new favorite quilting site! Without further adieu, let me introduce you to Patchwork Square: 

Wendy has done an amazing job of offering numerous block patterns at a variety of skill levels. Her site is full of free PDF downloads for quilt blocks in various sizes. And the best part, her directions are clear and easy to follow. And, if I am at a loss as to layout, she includes suggestions! What more could one ask? How do I cut these with my Cricut Maker? 

First, thank you, Wendy for permission to use your block! Let me introduce, Wendy's pattern: Bright Morning Star...

Pretty, huh? Say, if you would like to work along with me, please click here to link to the pattern page. Scroll down and you will find the downloadable PDF. Click on the picture of the pattern and save it to your hard drive.

Before I begin, I would like to point out a couple of pattern specific that make Wendy's patterns outstanding! They are also very helpful in Design Space.

The numbers are references to specific directions in her pattern. Sweet! No room for doubt as to which piece of fabric is cut for which patch! And, changing fabrics is simple, I just label the new fabrics with the appropriate number. 

Cutting directions are equally clear! Located right next to the grid with specific cutting numbers for each fabric is the diagram box detailing how to cut specific shapes. I have paid great money for patterns did not clearly describe what to do! And folks, this is worth gold when using Design Space to create a cutting file for this block. You'll see why really soon....

Finally, Wendy included her patch cutting directions in an easy to find and read table, specific for each fabric. The numbers correspond to the labeled fabrics in the block. For example, let's look at the background fabric for the 12" block. Specifically stated, I am to cut 9 squares, three different ways: 4 simple squares, 4 squares bisected on one diagonal, and one square bisected on both diagonals. She lists this type of information for each fabric used. 

But now the big question, how do I take these great instructions and make a beautiful block with my Cricut Maker, Maizie? In Design Space, of course!

I accessed Cricut Design Space on my computer and chose NEW PROJECT. With the new space opened I set out to create my squares for the background fabric. Here is how I translated Wendy's directions for a 12" finished block:

  1. Select the SHAPES tool from the toolbar. 
  2. Choose the SQUARE shape. This is the only shape that I used in creating the squares for this     particular block. 
  3. I changed the size to the noted size of the block. Hmmm......Wendy's blocks are in fractions; DS notes in decimals. Not a show stopper!
I created this chart of decimal equivalents for the basic quilting fractions. You can download the PDF by clicking on the photo.

On to manipulating my DS square shape for 4 squares at 3 1/8". 

With the black square selected, I clicked on the CIRCLE next to the square and CHANGED the color of the square to one more similar to the background fabric. 

Next, I changed the size of the square. With the LOCK CLOSED, I typed in the size needed. According to the chart, 1/8" equals .125. With the LOCK engaged, type 3.125 into one box and press ENTER on the keyboard.

The directions state that I need four squares at this size. But, the directions also indicate that I will have two more sets of squares at the same color. So, I selected EDIT and then COPY and PASTE a total of 6 squares (I only picture five!) I will continue to work with only four at this size, so I moved the fifth and sixth squares off to the side.

I selected the 4 needed patches and chose GROUP from the LAYERS panel so that this set of four stays together. 

Now to create the 2 7/8" squares.....

Four squares bisected on the diagonal....oh my!?!

Thanks, Wendy for the clarification! In Design Space, I chose one of the extra squares created in the previous step. 

This square, however, needs to be sized to 2 7/8" or 2.875. With the LOCK engaged, type this measurement into one box and press ENTER on the keyboard.

Now to "bisect diagonally." You'll be so excited as to how easy this really is!

From the SHAPES menu, select the SCORE line (yes, you read right!) A dashed line appears in the space.

Move the line over the square for visibility purpose. 

With the SCORE LINE selected, type 45 in the ROTATION box in the menu bar. The score line rotates to 45 degrees.

With the SCORE LINE still selected and the LOCK ENGAGED change the size to the EXACT SAME SIZE as the square (2.875).

Stay with me here, "bisect this square" means this square will be cut into two triangles. Therefore, I need to change the score line to a cut line. Ohhhh, DS, how I love your hidden talents! 

From the LAYERS panel, select the CIRCLED SCORE TOOL (indicated by the arrow). A new window opens.  Choose the CUT option (circled scissors). The line is no longer dashed, but instead becomes a solid line, a cut line! 

With both the new CUT LINE and the 2.875" square selected, choose ALIGN from the menu bar and CENTER. The CUT LINE snaps directly over the square, bisecting it diagonally.

With the CUT LINE and the 2.875" SQ still selected, at the bottom of the LAYERS tab, choose ATTACH. Now, my Maker will cut 2 triangles from this square. 

Since I need 4 squares like this, I COPY and PASTE for a total of 4!

SELECT all of these squares, GROUP (from the LAYERS menu), and move them to the side. 

Whew! It is time to create the last BACKGROUND square with a set of repeats of the steps already done. 
  1. Select the remaining square created in step one. 
  2. With the LOCK engaged, change the size of the square to 5.25" 
  3. Select the SCORE LINE. ROTATE 45 degrees and size to 5.25". 
  4. Change the SCORE LINE to a CUT LINE. 
  5. CENTER on the square

This square is bisected on both diagonals. One is done, the second is easy!

Select the diagonal CUT LINE. COPY and PASTE just the CUT LINE. With this line still selected, 
choose FLIP and FLIP VERTICAL. Voila! A second diagonal cut line!

Position this line by SELECTing this BLOCK, all diagonal cut lines and choose ARRANGE: CENTER. Finally, with this square and lines selected, choose ATTACH from the LAYERS MENU to finish.  

But what if the cut is a rectangle? The process is the same using the SQUARE. However, sizing is slightly different. For example:

After coloring the square, UNLOCK the sizing lock. It is necessary to independently type the width and the height in the boxes. The directions for this rectangle state a size of 1 7/8" x 3 1/8". Using the table, this translates into 1.875 x 3.125" Continue to copy and paste for four rectangles. 

Last, but not least, I save this file as BrightMorningStar_12in in Designs Space. That way I'll always know which pattern I will use for construction or ideas! 

That is it! The subsequent block squares, cut from the remaining fabrics (2-4) are created in the same way in DS! The best part is that when all squares are created, this block is can be precisely cut over and over again! No need to recreate, just multiply for your particular project. 

Please note, these directions do not include drawn seam lines. The seam allowances are included in the sizing of each square. Wendy's directions state to use a 1/4" seam allowance. These directions do not include fabric yardage for this block. That is for another post! 

My Cricut Maker, Maizie, wants to get busy on this project! So, I'm off to translate the remaining squares into Design Space so that she can get cutting! I hope that you are encouraged to do the same! 

Until next time....