Thursday, April 15, 2010

Geometry and the unexpected

Recently I did a post called "Turn that Quilt on it's Side"( on March 23).  This is a way of sewing blocks together in a straight grid setting and then cutting and resewing the top so that it turns into an "on-point" or diagonal setting.  I like this technique because it is faster to sew, in my opinion.  A couple of years ago, I did a pattern using this technique called "Charmed: A Ninepatch quilt".  When developing that pattern, and then later in another pattern using this technique with rail-fence blocks, I discovered some things that I did not expect!!!
Namely, that it is not always as predictable as you might expect when it comes to the relationship between the grid size that you start out with and the shape that you get when you do this diagonal cutting technique.
So, I have decided that I should share with you the arcane and intricate details of what happens!! (in case you decide to do this and alter the sizes!!!)

First, my scientific method was as follows:
1. I drew a simple quilt on my EQ6 program.
2. I printed it out with different grid proportions, for example, 4 x 6 blocks, 5 x 5 blocks, 6 x 6 blocks, etc.
3. I then cut the paper quilt apart, as I would do the quilt top, and then taped them together again to see what shape it became. ---this is the Unpredictable part!
4.  Later on, I also tried out the same method, but using alternating blocks, like a checkerboard, to see which grids would "work" -- that is, which would retain the checkerboard pattern and which ones would Not Work.

Are you still with me?
Good, then it is time for the pictures!

In this first example, the grid was 4 x 6 blocks.  After cutting and resewing, this is what it'll look like: (the drawings show the proportions, but not the exact measurements.)  nb. this is the same proportion as a 2 x 3 grid, or a 6x 9 grid, or a 8 x 12 grid, etc.

It looks pretty good!

But if you start with a 5 x 6 grid, it looks good with the straight grid, but not so good when you turn it on the diagonal-- it looks too tall and skinny:

when you start with a 4 x 8 grid (or a 2 x 4, or a 3 x 6, or a 6 x 12 grid, etc ), it looks tall and skinny to start with, but it turns into a square quilt!!!

If you start with a 5 x 7 grid the proportions look good,  and it is fine to use with certain blocks.

But! be careful if you are using an alternate squares setting:

If you look carefully, you can see that the checkerboard pattern has been disrupted.

So, what I would recommend is that if you plan to turn a quilt on it's size, it is a good idea to draw out a sketch on paper, then physically cut it apart and tape it together to see what it will look like down the road...

I hope this has been useful! michelle


  1. That all seems about 600 miles over my baby quilting steps!! I am interested in the fact that you use EQ6 - is it easy to use? Helpful? I draw a lot on paper and can never get the proportions right and it's hard to move things around etc so I was thinking it would be a useful tool to put into my laptop. So I'm open to your thoughts on the program and how easy it is to use but remember I am just a begining quilter.


    PS Your afternoon outside quilting and drinking wine sounds like a really nice way to have spent today!

  2. Hi Bernie, it makes sense if you've done a quilt this way, but I did omit the basic procedure from this post-- how to cut it, and resew,
    as for Eq6, I use it a lot, but then again, I do a lot of patterns, and also I started using the program when it was EQ 3 or 4! But, when I first got the program, i worked through the tutorials it came with, and then over time learned little things as I went along, I think it really depends on whether you like to do things on the computer or not. have a great weekend!!! we're off to the farmers market.

  3. ths information about turning different sizes of quilts is so interesting, and very timely! I took the class on disappearing 9 patch and have been busy creating them ever since! I was just planmng to make one larger, so good to know that I should work it out first. Thanks


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