Quilter's Reference Cards

Posted by Barbara Cain on Sep 3rd 2015

For today's National Sewing Month post, we have a free download–quilter's reference cards–from Barbara Cain, author of Go Big, Go Bold–Large-Scale Modern Quilts. I'll let her take it from here and explain her inspiration and how to use the cards!

It's funny how there are certain things that just can't be committed to memory; for me, this is the case with figures. I have trouble remembering all kinds of figures: telephone numbers, important dates, addresses, ages, even my own age! Whenever someone asks how old I am, I have to do the math–sometimes with questionable results!!

So it just figures, no pun intended, that when quilting (which is, by the way, my favorite activity) there is a constant barrage of questions to which the answers are unfortunately, figures:

  • I need a 10'' cut of fabric. How much yardage is that?
  • I want this to be a full-size quilt. How big should it be?
  • I have three strips at 2 5/8'' wide and 7 at 3 1/4''. What will the width be when these are sewn together with 1/4'' seams?

When quilting, the need make mathematical calculations is seemingly endless, and to complicate matters, here in the United States we use the English system. No user-friendly base-ten decimal system for us; give us the impossible to remember, completely incompatible, and calculator-unfriendly system of fractions! Combine fractions with having no head for figures, and you have a quilter who is nearly out of business, or who was, until now. Allow me to introduce to you the Quilter's Reference Cards!

These four little cards provide instant answers to the usual questions that are encountered while quilting. In addition, they bridge the gap between fractions and the calculator. Print yourself a set of free reference cards, and no longer will you need pencils, scratch paper and that old high school math book. Let's take a closer look at each card.

Fractions to Decimals

With the Fractions to Decimals card, you can easily make conversions from fractions to decimals, and then use your standard calculator to do the math. Let's practice by adding three 2 5/8'' strips together. Start by converting the 5/8'' to a decimal. Look on the handy reference card and you'll find that the answer is .625. Now, let's do the math on a calculator:

2.625 x 3 = 7.875

Check back with the chart and you'll find that .875 equals 7/8'', so the answer to our question is 7 7/8''. How easy is that?

Yards to Inches

Another fun characteristic of the English system is that fabrics are sold in fractional increments of yards. And what is fun about yards? Yards are based on feet (thirds of yards) and better yet, on inches (thirty-sixths of yards). Fun indeed! Now you can use the handy Yards to Inches card to simplify these complicated conversions. Example: you need 23'' of fabric, so you look on the chart and find that 23'' is just 1/2'' more than 5/8 of a yard, so you move along on the chart and find that you need to buy 2/3 of a yard to have enough fabric. Simple!

Quilts and Batting

Well, there is a good bit of controversy here, but I did my best to calculate some averages for quilt sizes as well as for prepackaged batting. No math for you to do here, this is just a simple reference card that identifies what I have found to be typical. Certainly, if you are making a quilt that is block based or based on some other finite increment, by all means, consider this a guide and adjust accordingly.

Mattress and Pillow Sizes

US mattress and pillow sizes are, thankfully, a little bit more regular than quilt and batting sizes. This quick reference is self explanatory and will be sure to come in handy from time to time.

To download a complementary .pdf of my Quilter's Reference Cards, simply follow this link. All four cards print on one page. You can leave them together or cut them apart. Enjoy!

Barbara Cain is the author of our upcoming book Go Big, Go Bold–Large-Scale Modern Quilts, which is currently available for pre-order. Want to win a copy of the book when it comes out? Enter our giveaway here: a Rafflecopter giveaway! Winner will be chosen and announced one week from today; US residents will win a physical copy and international residents will win an ebook.

Congratulations to Kathleen Hackney, winner of our giveaway! We hope you will love the book, and thank you so much to everyone else who entered as well.

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