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....

Sunday, October 22, 2017

It's a Maker! Making a cute pumpkin even better with "Maizie" Maker.

I saw this blog post on a FB forum and fell in love with Stephanie Gerard's cute pumpkins!

So, I rushed to make one from the great instructions on the blog. As I worked, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, "Maizie" Maker could make this so much more time efficient. And guess what -- she did!

Please understand, I am not "recreating" this pattern; it is not mine and I do not claim any rights to it. My instructions are only for expediting the cutting of the fabric on my Cricut Maker. Please refer to Stephanie's blog post in order to complete your pumpkins.

So, what is different? I decided that I needed a couple of things in addition to the supplies listed. These include:
  • a tape measure
  • a black sharpie marker
  • a piece of computer paper (copy paper)
  • Design Space software
  • a DS file: Leaf(#M39484)FreeCricut Font and Basics
  • my Cricut Maker, "Maizie"

There are also a couple of additional steps I found necessary so that the fabric pieces will cut correctly on the Cricut Maker. Because I would use these numbers later, I wrote all measurements down!
  • I measured the circumference of my styrofoam ball. 
    • My 6" ball measured 18" around it's center
  • I then divided the measurement in half. 
    • 18" circumference divided by 2 equals 9. 
    • I labeled this the LENGTH. 
  • Finally, I divided the 18" measurement by the number of sections I wanted my pumpkin to have.
    • 8 sections sounded nice.....
    • The 18" circumference divided by 8 equals 2.25.
    • I labeled this WIDTH.
Now the fun part and why I love the flexibility of Design Space!  I opened Design Space on my MacBook.
  • First, I selected a new project...
  • Then, I selected "images" from side bar...
  • I am all for easy and DS's search engine is just the tool for that!  At the top of my screen, I choset (1) CARTRIDGES and then (2) FILTER. From the drop down "filter" tab I ticked the box next to NEW.
  • To be even more specific, I typed "FONT AND BASIC" in the address bar.
  • Two choices popped up. The second choice (note the red arrow) was my exact match! It is the cartridge that contains my desired shape! So, I select it!
  • Scrolling through the cartridge contents, I found this leaf shape.  

One of the things I love about Cricut is the number of  FREE shapes available for my use. 
To be honest, I tried to reproduce this image with the shapes from the basic shapes, but was unsuccessful. It was a "duh" moment for me when I remembered all the extra shapes that are FREE! Total creativity at my fingertips....or search skills... but anyway, I digress. 

As a reminder...what I am sharing is in addition to the carefully written directions in
Please, review her directions and then  the steps I have taken should make much more sense. I like to use my tools to their fullest and creating these files allow me to use my fantastic Maker to cut the necessary shapes, saving time and fabric!

I always start with basics. This leaf design helped me create the basic template from which I could create the entire design file. My plan was to create a paper template for marking the cut lines on my styrofoam ball and then the fabric wedges to be used in covering the styrofoam.  So, on to the basic template....

Looking at the shape I decided to use only the "mat" or yellow part of this design. While in the  Layers menu (the type is darker) I selected the green shape by clicking on it. I then, deleted that green shape. Voila! I had only my desired shape. 

Time to "reshape" this design. I selected the SIZE LOCK and "unlocked" it so that I could change the length and width of my shape independent of one another. 

It is time to use the calculations I completed earlier and logged in a note. 
In the box labeled "W" I entered the WIDTH of 2.25.
 In the box labeled "L" I entered the HEIGHT of 9.
Looks a little different, doesn't it? 

This is my basic template shape. My plan is to cut it from copy paper and use the widest part to help me me mark the styrofoam ball for the cutting lines. But more about that later...

Time for me to size this template for my fabric wedges....

I selected the yellow wedge and then chose the EDIT menu. From the drop down I selected COPY and then PASTE. In my Design Space I now had  a second yellow wedge! 

To differentiate between the "template" and the "fabric" shapes I decided to change the color of the wedge that will be used for fabric. With the pasted wedge at the top of the layers menu selected, I clicked on its YELLOW circle. From the pop out menu, I chose the light orange. 

In Design Space I try to use color coding as much as possible for my cut images, making it so much easier to efficiently cut my images! In this file, my paper cut will be the yellow image and my fabric cuts will be the others! 

It was time for me to resize the orange (fabric) wedge. After a couple of failed attempts, I realized that I had to allow enough fabric to be tucked into the cuts on the styrofoam ball. An additional 1" seemed to work for me, but if you do not have a good sizing eye---add 1 1/2".
Using the same sizing technique as earlier, unlock the LOCK. Add one inch to the width (3.25) and and then to the length (10). And my fabric shape is done....or at least one of them is done. 

But I need 8! Super easy, right? Using EDIT: COPY and EDIT: PASTE and the LARGER wedge, I copy and pasted 7 more sections for my total of 8. 
Now it is the time to make this my own.  Using the colored circle next to the layers, I recolored the fabric templates into 4 different colors. Now I can mat the correct fabric and cut two wedges at a time!
In order to know how much fabric to to cut I selected the MAKE IT button and the mat appeared, clearly showing the cut size of 7 x 11". So, I cut four pieces of fabric in preparation. 

DS is set-up and ready to go! Following the on-screen prompts I cut my yellow wedge from copy paper and 8 fabric wedges from four different fabrics. Because I want to make more of this size, I marked the paper template with the corresponding styrofoam ball size. I won't have to cut another template until this one wears out!

On to prepare the styrofoam ball!
I placed the paper wedge on the ball, pinning it at the top and bottom (the v-shaped edge). I marked a cross shape at each end. This is the point around which I will rotate the paper template. 

As I rotate the v-point around the top marking, I also drew lines at approximately the center of the ball to help me make the cut lines with the serrated knife. 

I continued marking all the way around the styrofoam ball. My last section was not quite right, so I drew my last line in between the two previously drawn lines. (Note the line under the arrow). 

I then followed the rest of the directions from
to complete my pumpkins! 

Thanks for dropping by! Until next time.....