12 November, 2012

Geometry fail

scraps, originally uploaded by Hazelnutgirl.

I'm almost half way through making up blocks for my Math Facts quilt; but I'd be further along if I hadn't had a massive fabric cutting fail yesterday! The bundle in front of the photo are all strips and blocks that I'd cut, which I couldn't use because I'd cut way too many of them and then wasn't able to cut some larger pieces required for the X blocks. I am now down 3 X blocks in the scheme of things. I am really ticked off at myself for two reasons - firstly it's a big fat waste of fabric and secondly, I feel like a doofus. I'm all about efficiency and getting things out of the least amount of fabric possible and this is a blow to my self-esteem! I'll probably use up the scraps in something or other eventually but honestly! Doofus.

Do any of you know if there is some sort of rule of thumb when it comes to cutting fabric when the pattern doesn't give you a cutting order, just the total of all the pieces? Should I have cut the bigger ones first? How do you judge how many blocks you're going to get without sitting down and basically drawing it all out before you start? I want to balance caution with economy of scale.


  1. wow, what a good question and I'm really interested to know if there's an answer. My first thought is, there must have been an order to how the pieces were listed, even if it didn't indicate which ones to cut first. If you had followed that order, do you think it would have worked? My guess is that I'd cut the larger/longer ones first and then work from there. Whoever made the pattern had to know how much material was necessary so it seems odd that layout and cutting order instructions were not included. An exception that comes to mind is when the pattern is vague because it's accounting for different color fabric choices; however, that's no excuse to not have distinct instructions for at least one specific layout (and allowing the reader to make a different choice). I can only imagine how absolutely frustrating this situation must be for you and I'm sorry to hear it. Thank you for putting it out there and I hope there are some answers!

  2. The other thing to keep in mind is fabric width... often solids seem to be quite noticeably narrower than the average print fabric... or they have weird sort of selvedges that require heavy duty wastage. Does it say in the pattern that it is based on a certain width fabric I wonder?? Having started the Swoon quilt which is made from FQers - there is just a whisker of fabric left over after following the cutting instructions - if your FQ is a bit on the narrow side... it just don't fit! Very frustrating.

  3. No, not really any indication from the list of pieces, but you're right - it makes sense to cut the larger ones first and so-on down the line and that's what I did the second time around and it made a huge difference! It's possible that the final yardage was sort of reverse calculated, based on how much was used up. Next time I come across any vague bits I'll just contact the pattern designer and ask for some guidance!

  4. Oooo the narrower-than-standard fabric! I've been caught out with that a couple times. I don't think it was an issue this time around, it was just my inefficient cutting. The other thing that has made life very difficult in the past when cutting out pieces is when the fabric hasn't been cut off the bolt with any regard to being on the grain, so instead of getting a metre you've got, for all practical intents and purposes, 80cm. And then there is the badly woven fabric that you can't keep on the grain while cutting no matter how much stretching and pulling you do before you start! The trials and tribulations of someone who cares about fabric grain. ;)

  5. Wowsers I've never given it any thought !!! I just cut and panic later
    Lovely looking blocks btw

  6. Yes, the book "Taking the Math Out of Quilting" recommends cutting the largest pieces (usually the lengthy borders first), and then you know what fabric you have left to play around with. It has saved me a few times, especially when taking small pieces out of the whole feels as though you aren't making too big a fabric committment, but it has ended in mistakes for me, be it wanting the length of grain with the warp, or not needing the strength, and being able to use more of the weft in the length of the pattern piece. It is also a reminder that sometimes you need to piece (or I would say cobble!) the large pieces of the quilt from more than one piece of fabric.

    I now also use the same process when packing the car for a journey. You can fit the small stuff around the bigger, but it is a pain to have to take out the small stuff to fit the bigger stuff in!



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