Welcome to the
“Building Blocks” Newsletter

Issue Three..........................................November 2007
Part Two

Math & Quilting
An excerpt from Love Entangled
The “Quiltmaker Mysteries” e-novel

But first...

Math & Quilting

Have you ever looked at a magazine and wondered how they figured out exactly how much fabric to tell you to buy for that pattern?

I used to do it the hard way. One of my first quilts after I started up quilting again is made of eight-point stars and Tangrams (I'll tell you more about them later). Over 3,000 pieces of cloth to sew together! Needless to say, it's an UFO, much to my friend Dory's dismay since it's her quilt. (Yeah, Dory, I’m still working on it—a little at a time!)

But I'm using it here for demonstration purposes: I'd just discovered fat quarters. I don't know how many fat quarters were bought for this project but I do know buying cloth by the yard is easier for big projects!

Cutting 45 degree angles for the eight point stars was a challenge when I'd run out of fabric and had to go back to the store for some more. Somewhere in the process, they quit carrying one or two of the fabrics and I had to improvise and get other fabrics. Since this was green fabrics, I had some problems getting patterns that would go nicely together in the LeMoyne Stars (that's an eight point star that is half one fabric and half another, which I didn't know it was called that until much later).

Okay, here's the math part of this article.

When I design a pattern now, I go in to Photoshop(TM) and build the pattern to scale. Then I start breaking it apart into the main components, such as squares and triangles. Using a square as the example: I copy the square into an new file and add the seam allowances. I then take that square to a new ("fabric") file which I make 42" wide by 36" long (1 yard of fabric), where I paste as many of that particular "piece" that's needed for the quilt. (It's an easy task to add more inches to the file when I need more "fabric".)

When I do triangles I do pretty much the same thing, but because I figure the triangles for Tri-Squares (to make cutting easier I make them into squares that will be later cut in half), I add an inch to the triangle's measurement which gives plenty of fabric for the seam allowances and trimming. Then I paste them into the "fabric" file.

When I finish with all the fabrics, I can give a good estimate of how much fabric you should buy. I try very hard to make it the most economical for you. But there are times that I add a bit extra for things like shrinkage and mistakes in cutting (yep, it happens to all of us!).

So when you read one of my patterns, remember I did the math for you! Even for the mathmetically inclined, it's a lot easier when someone else does it for you. Also, it takes away time that could better be used quilting.

I gave you a thumbnail account of the process, but what happens when you do something over and over, it gets faster and faster. Now I know to use one file for all the same-size components. If I have three colors that use an 8" square, I make one file and put the "color" in then when I'm done I can save it to that color. Then I use the same file, re-color it and save to another name, and so on. I've even gotten to where if I need a cutting chart the same as another fabric, I can just re-color it almost faster than re-building it from scratch and save it to a new name.

If there is any time you want to tackle a project, let me know. I can fix it up for you fairly quickly, it just takes time to put it together.

That’s enough math for today.

For the Newsletter Subscribers Only
(For Subscribers as of December 10, 2007)

You get to be a very special group of Quiltmaker Mysteries Book Club Charter Members.

I am opening up the first positions in the Book Club Charter Membership to my newsletter list. Unlike everyone else who joins the Charter Membership, you’ll get your first book free! That’s a $9.97 gift to you for signing up.

To Whet your appetite, here is an excerpt:

....It was an odd place to find a blanket. The young girls stood looking at the tangle of brush in the gully behind their house. It was one of their favorite places to play, this wash which skirted the subdivision (one of many housing developments that had sprung up—all over the valley—in the last few years).

....For as long as time, the old gully had drained the hills to the west. Some years the gully filled with tumbleweeds, much like this year. Other years it filled with torrents of water that washed away much of the detritus collected in it. Like it had a few months ago when there had been a hard day of storms beating the hills and causing a runoff that filled the gully to almost overflowing. That was when the old tree had washed down and gotten stuck in the bend of the wash where the girls were now exploring.

....Although the girls’ parents would have preferred they find a better place for their games of hide-n-seek or whatever the game was on any given day, they liked the old gully. But they hadn’t had much time in the gully lately. For the last few weeks the gully had been filled with run off which had carried the tangle of weeds and a part of a tree to this portion of the gully where it had snagged.

....The girls wondered what they should do. They were frightened enough with this find to know that they should go get someone to further investigate. But who?

....It was at that moment Candy got the bright idea. She glanced at her twin sister, Sandy and with a shrewd look, she whispered, “The Quiltmaker.”

....“Well, yeah. But I was hoping I could call in a favor.”

....“Since when do I owe you a favor?”

....“Since I called off the dogs, so to speak,” he countered. “That Animal Control Officer, what’s her name, oh yeah... Douglas. I told her to let you be. That you were a lot more responsible than the idiots who saddle you with them mama cats and kittens. Then I told her every cat you had was spayed or neutered, had their shots and was well fed so they were healthy and well cared for. When she still balked, I asked her exactly what she would do with those cats if Animal Control took them in and she wouldn’t say.”

....He lowered his voice and using the growl he was famous for, continued, “I informed her that they wouldn’t get any of those cats to kill!”

....Maggie knew Hank well enough to know that as tough as he came across to most everyone, he had a heart of gold when it came to animals. He’d always had a dog around, in fact right now he had three. But what surprised her in the last round of adoptions was he took a couple of the kittens. He had come by one day for some reason. When got here two little toms were playing together on the porch. They broke off their play to investigate the man’s trouser legs. After climbing up the man’s leg and settling on his lap, they promptly set up a stereo racket while he tried to talk over them. When it was time to go, he asked if they had homes yet. When she told him they hadn’t been spoken for, he told her to get them fixed (on him) and he’d make a place for them.

....He named the black one Spike (his “biker” cat—black leather sort of thing) and the orange tabby one Scotch (for his favorite drink). In his care they were already growing into big cats. Even with the dogs around, they ruled the roost.

....He soon became her biggest advocate for finding homes for the kittens. Unbeknownst to her, he had even began the paperwork to get her place set up properly with a big-time adoption agency. It wasn’t until the paperwork came that she found out just what he’d done. Her barn was now officially an extension of that group’s main office in town.

....Maggie laughed and said, “Okay, I give. That was a good one. Just having Officer Douglas curtailed is favor enough.” She then added, “oh, by the way, thanks for getting that adoption designation for my barn. Get a half a dozen calls a week now for dropping off cats to adopt. If it keeps up I’ll have to hire someone to deal with that!”

....“Sorry, didn’t mean to make more work. Just was trying to get you legal so Officer Smarty-Pants would leave you alone,” he said apologetically.

....“So, what’s your favor?”

....“Well, remember when you helped us out a while back with that stolen blanket thing?”

....“You mean that priceless 100 year old Indian blanket that was stolen from the museum?”

....“Yeah, that one,” he said gingerly, “I was wondering if you could help us with...”

If you like what you saw, and would like to know more about Caleb,
the mysterious new carpenter Maggie has hired (and the stir he causes in her classes and her life).

You can go to this link (to download the first installment):

Check out Maggie's Bio

Well, until next time... (December, if the creek don't rise...)

Remember (what my favorite sign says):
“To quilt or not to quilt? What a silly question.”

..................I’d rather be quilting,..........................................TeriMac