Quilt Making: Planning and Choosing Your Fabric

I will be detailing how I make quilts showcasing fabric that has been given to me by ADORNit. This series of blog posts will be apart of my time as an ADORNit Ambassador, so lets get started!

I have been around quilting as long as I can remember. As a kid, whenever we’d get together with my mom’s family there would be some sort of quilt making going on. My maternal grandmother was a talented quilter and had a long arm quilter, she was always making quilts and I still have a couple quilts she made me. But even though I have quilting history I am mostly self taught. I am going to be sharing as much as I know about quilting. I am no expert but I am continually trying to learn!

Before I do anything cutting or sewing, I always plan out my entire quilt. I plan everything out on grid paper because it helps me to correctly calculate each dimension for every piece of my quilt.


I work backwards when planning out my quilts. By that I mean I begin with the finished size and calculate all of my dimensions from that. I will be guiding you through my thought and step process, hopefully I explain things well enough.

The finished dimensions for this quilt are:

32″ x 40″ – 8 inch squares/ 4 x 5 sq = 20 squares

To have a quilt that size once everything is said and done I have to identify where every seam will be and add them to my measurements.

This quilt is a herringbone pattern using half triangle squares. That means for every square there will be 5 seams. One on each side and one on the diagonal. Each of these seams will be a fourth of an inch, 1/4 seam allowance.

An unfinished square will be 8.5 inches square.

However the pattern I have chosen uses half triangle squares and has an extra seam. To make half triangle squares I start with strips of fabric and cut at a 45 degree angle, I will be going into detail about how to do that next time. To find the width of the strips this where you will have to do some math. Bleh, I know, math gross! Haha I actually like math, do you know I was going to be a mechanical engineer before I switched to the major I graduated in?

You will be using the Pythagorean Theorem and the Sin Function. To find the length of the block diagonal and then to find the height of the triangle made by the diagonal, I know, I know! But I promise I’m going to make it real easy for you, so easy you can use your phone calculator.

HST calculations

If you are making squares the same size as mine then awesome! I’ll be doing all the work for you. If not then just put your unfinished size measurements in place of mine. If you have a TI-84 pull it out and get number chugging!

The measurements you have are A, B, and the 45 degree angle. Find C first;

(8.5)(8.5) + (8.5)(8.5) = C squared > Square root entire left side of the equation to get C // C = approx 12 inches. This will be used when cutting triangles into our strips, don’t worry about until next time

iPhone calculation ex.: 8.5 > x with super script 2 > + > 8.5 > x with super script 2 > = > square root function; should equal 12.02

(8.5)sin(45) = x // x = approx 6 inches. This is your strip height, you must add seam allowances, 1/4 for each side of your strip. YOUR STRIPS WILL BE 6.5 INCHES WIDE.

iPhone calculation ex.: Turn your phone sideways. 45>sin>x>8.5; should equal 6.01 add 1/2 for seam allowance = 6.5 inches

OR if you want to go the super simple way, cut your diagonal measurement exactly in half and you will have the size of your strips and then add your seam allowances. You can do this because the triangles made from the block are symmetrical and perfect 45,90,45 degree triangles. Again if you’re not good at math, just trust me.

There you go, that wasn’t so hard was it? Now since you used all that brain power don’t worry about cutting things out yet, lets choose our fabric.

When I choose my fabric I always ask myself “what is this for?” most of the time it is for another person so I go with their favorite color. This quilt is for me so I’m choosing yellow. ADORNit sent me the beautiful yellow floral fabric and I knew exactly that I was going to use it for this.

Once I have my main inspiration fabric I use it to choose accent fabric. I take a piece of the fabric to the store and hold them up to different colored fabrics that match and pick the ones that coordinate the best. I also pick a neutral to add contrast, it is usually a grey or white.

For this quilt I loved the mustard yellow of the fabric ADORNit sent me and chose a yellow to complement and bring some happy into the blanket!

Next week I will be talking about how I actually cut my triangles and you’ll be able to see the beautiful yellow floral fabric up close!

xo Sara


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