Thursday, April 28, 2011

my favorite quilting tools

Some people doodle. I graph.

Graph paper is a beautiful thing. So symmetrical, so orderly, so organized.

I ♥ graph paper.

I draft most of my pillow ideas on graph paper. I know my finished dimension - say 20" square - so I can just put my trusty pencil to paper, count out 20 little squares to the right, then down, then back left, and up to the starting point. And there's my empty pillow canvas just waiting to be filled with squares, triangles, or whatever geometric goodies I desire!

I get a weird kick out of doing math in my head, and the graph paper provides a visual representation of all my quilting math. But what's a graphed quilt design without some color? Color combinations do not come easily to me, so my trusty colored pencils let me try out options before cutting into my fabrics.

Once I've got a layout and color combo that I'm happy with, I add cutting instructions and other notes.

Here's what I've been graphing and coloring this week.

I want to make a "Tree of Life" quilt using Sarah Fielke's new line "From Little Things", but the free pattern with the fabric line involved lots of templates and not very clear directions. So I decided to use the pattern in Edyta Sitar's book Friendship Triangles but wanted the blocks to be larger than 14" to show bigger pieces of her large prints.

No problem for my trusty graph paper! Using her diagrams in the book, I broke down the block into a 7 x 7 grid, made each grid section 2.5", and ta-da... a 17.5" finished block. Yay! I've got most of the three leaf sections sewn, so only the trunk and backgrounds remain. Those look to be the most difficult parts, but the graph paper has helped me break it down into manageable pieces and document all the things I've cut and assembled correctly, and to fix the parts where I've made mistakes. Yes - the graph paper limits my mistakes, but doesn't eliminate them ;-)

If you don't have any graph paper handy, you can print some directly from Moda's website under "Fun Stuff" and "Downloads" here. Let me know what tools you use when drafting projects.


  1. Thanks for sharing your processes. I use graph paper too but I'm a bit scribbly and just write in the colours rather than use real colour. Your patterns are much prettier!

  2. I do the same thing! I think it makes the math so much easier.

  3. I have a composition book with graph paper in it. I do the same thing with writing out the directions etc. It makes a nice "memory" book for me too! I need to get a new box of colored pencils for myself...why haven't I done that already? Silly me!

  4. Thanks for the Moda graph paper link, I'm printing some right now. I haven't bought any but have used whatever grid I've had on hand or drawn one free hand. This is much better. Thanks.


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