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stitchagain | Posted in Quilting and Home Decor on

I have made a few quilts but need some advice.


Hoe does one estamate yardage.  I have been saving scraps for a while but how to conseptualize a project?

I thought I’d do an applique quilt but don’t want to start and run out of fabric

Edited 3/8/2008 5:14 pm ET by stitchagain


  1. rodezzy | | #1

    Your very first step is to decide on the design of the quilt and the size.  You may look at quilt books you have on hand (if any) to help you with that.  I have the book Quilts, Quilts Quilts.  I was given this book as a gift and it is a tremendous help on everything you need to make a quilt.  Design, block size, fabric, everything.  There's so much out there.


    On these sites you can look up all types of information concerning quilts and quilt making, and free quilt block designs of all kinds.  These are only two of many sites.



    Most free quilt designs and/or patterns give fabric requirements. 

    Find out what fabric you want to use from your stash, measure it out to get the yardage for what you have on hand.  And remember, nothing is written in stone.  Have fun and play.  Don't limit yourself to your original plans totally.  You may run out of something, so use something else, we in quilting call these instances, "design opportunities".  If you can't be free to do that, you may need to purchase more of what you want after you make your design/size decision.

    Scrappy quilts are beautiful and are decided by color values of lights, mediums and darks.  This is the contrast factor needed to have a successful scrappy quilt.  You don't worry as much about color as you do about value.  The value of a fabric says whether a "light" fabric reads light, a "medium" reads medium and a "dark" reads dark in organizing your fabrics for your quilt.  Value is very important and gives life to your quilt.  It may be all blue, but you must have a light blue, a medium blue and a dark blue.  If a two color quilt you can use a light blue background fabric and applique everything in dark blue fabric.  Or Vis-versa.  It's your call.  You have to be careful about fabrics with large scale prints; after cutting, they may come out with light, medium and dark parts.  Check out the site below.


    Well, I hope I have helped you in some way, it will mainly be your decision after doing your research that will make a successful applique quilt.  Good Luck and send pictures when done.  I know it will be beautiful.  I will be on pins and needles (giggle) until you finish.  (no stress-smile)

    Edited 3/10/2008 2:13 pm ET by rodezzy

    1. stitchagain | | #2


      Sorry I was not more informative

      I want to make a butterfly quilt.  Full size- a vintage pattern that I have.  It lists the yardage for all except for the pattern pieces which create the butterfly wings, body, antenna.  I want to use multiple printed fabrics to create each square each butterfly

      My sister has the butterfly quilt that was handed down in my family.  It rather tattered, probably from the 30s.  It used multiple printed fabric but each butterfly is mostly monochromatic  blue, yellow purple.  

      I don't think I necessarily need to do that.  I have been saving up fabric for a while.  I am excited about making my own unique heirloom.

      A design wall as one of the links you suggested is a great idea.  Improvise is a great idea. 


      Thanks for your advice

      1. rodezzy | | #4

        Take the pattern and a fat quarter if you have on hand, and see if that will cover the wings.  That fat quarter is 18 x 22 and should cover the wings.  the body and antenna should take very little fabric.  Can you hand stitch the antenna with a running stitch and make a french knot at the end?  Just a thought.  Most butterfly quilts use that method for the antenna.

        You need to determine the dimensions of the largest part of the butterfly wing patterns and convert the inches to yards.

        Rodezzy, Fiber Artist

        Edited 3/11/2008 12:01 pm ET by rodezzy

      2. rodezzy | | #5

        After going on "Block Central" and typing in applique butterfly, I found these vintage butterflies.  These are the only vintage butterflies I remember seeing in all of the ones I've seen over my years of quilting.  Are one of them yours?


        1. stitchagain | | #6

          The image in the upper right hand corner is similar to the butterfly patterned quilt that my sister has, but the color are cheery clear colors.  Thanks for showing me that I haven't seen it for a while.

          The pattern I have is actually more abstract butterfly wings separated out into four shapes some diamonds some with curves.  The antenna is chain stitched with an appliqued dot and the end.


          1. rodezzy | | #7

            Oh yes, that was just from the internet, it can be whatever colors you want.  It has three pieces to it. 

            Have you pulled your fabric?  That should be lots of fun.  I love choosing fabric for a new project and making a quilt top.  I just love to see it come together.  Maybe I'll make a butterfly wall hanging to give as a gift.  I love butterflies too.

            Good luck with your project and keep me posted.

          2. starzoe | | #15

            Teaf5 has given you good advice. I would add this advice - use graph paper to lay out your quilt, one with larger squares, 4 or 5 to the inch will do the job admirably. Measure a sample square and work from there.

      3. Teaf5 | | #8

        I generally avoid doing math, but I think there is a fairly simple way to determine how much fabric you will need:First figure out how many squares or times you will repeat the motif in your quilt. You can use a plain sheet and some colored chalk to graph out different options and clarify overall measurements and the size of your squares and motifs. You can use a photocopier to enlarge or reduce your motif to suit your plan.Once you have your applique pattern, make a number of paper copies of the different wing sections and cut them out (allowing for seam allowances, but you don't have to be very precise). Say you'll have 12 butterflies total; maybe make 6 paper copies to arrange on the folded or doubled pieces of fabric in your stash.If you don't have enough to make all the butterflies the same combination of fabrics, consider the possibility of adding another fabric to the mix or making only three of one combination and three of another. Sometimes the randomness can be more beautiful, and sometimes a single butterfly of a totally different color in one corner or the center can become a dramatic accent. Have fun and show us what you come up with!

        1. stitchagain | | #10

          Thanks for all the responses.  I am not sure I am making myself clear on make my query is, so I'll try again.

          I used to go to garage sales a lot and if I saw a fabric that I liked I would buy it.  I figured the smaller pieces could always be used in a quilt.  Now I have a cardboard box full that is greatly in need of reorganization and the best way to "reorganize" it would be to reorganize the fabric into a quilt!  Some of the scraps are really just that: scraps.  (Not square.)  It would be nice to pull fabric for this project, but my idea is to use what I have.

          That said I feel picky and want it to match in a mixed pieces sort of way and all be cotton.

          I'll attach a picture from the pattern of the design.  It is very stylized.  Omit ruffles.  I like Jane Sassaman quilts a lot and think maybe I can used some of her innovations but want it to be a traditional quilt.

          My query was about how to start choosing and how to estimate yardage.  From looking at the black and white picture on the pattern closely it appears that at most 7 prints are used (not counting antennae).  One favorite print is also used for the strips.  Surprisingly it looks like a large range: 2-5 of the fabric choices are used per butterfly.  I guess I need to get the fabric out and estimate yardage.




          1. Teaf5 | | #11

            The vintage pattern has a maximum of 7 different patterns pictured because that's the maximum number of variations that a printer could create at that time. The instructions for the appliques mention "various scraps," so there were probably lots of different actual fabrics used for this quilt, which is ideal for using up odd bits and pieces that are too small for anything else.True vintage quilts rarely match in the way you are intending because they were made from leftovers; it is only recently that quilters have bought yardage for a project. If you found a modern quilt pattern book with a similar pattern, it would be more likely to include the yardage for a more modern quilt.Organizing your fabrics before going any further might be a very useful step. Taking out cottons only, separate what you have into stacks by color, darks/lights, patterns/plains. Take a look at the distribution of those categories in the pattern and compare that to the size of the stacks you have. An applique quilt of this complexity is going to take a very, very long time; use only scraps that you really like! Chances are, by the time you finish a few blocks, you will have already accumulated more scraps that you'll want to include, and being flexible in your approach will allow you to use them.

          2. rodezzy | | #12

            I agree with damacusannie (sorry if I spelled it wrong), you are over thinking this project.  Just get out the scraps and go.  After looking at the pattern and materials list, it is the same as any materials list in almost every scrap pattern I have seen.  They rarely give yardage for scraps.  Especially small pieces like your butterflies. 

            But try this:  cut out a template in freezer paper for every butterfly piece needed, from every butterfly, and for every block you want to make.  Put the templates on the fabric until you have used every template for all of the butterflies you want in the quilt.  This way you will know every part of your butterflies are on some scrap fabric without cutting anything out.  The freezer paper can be ironed on to the fabric, it will stick until you remove it.  Do you have a mini iron.  If not, just use the tip of your iron, and use moderate heat.   

            I can't think of any other way to make sure you only use the fabric you have.  If you don't have enough scraps to make a certain amount of butterflies, cut down the number of butterfly blocks and make more borders than blocks, or use more blocks without butterflies to fill in.

            I've pulled Jane's Sassamans site up so everyone can get a feel for what you like.  So look at your stash, pull the color combination you like the most and start making your beautiful butterflies.  It is a very unique and beautiful butterfly pattern.  I can't wait to see what you will do. 

            View ImageView ImageView Image

          3. MaryinColorado | | #17

            How did you do that attatchment?  You are such a clever gal!!!  Wow!  I am so impressed!  Mary

          4. rodezzy | | #18

            When you copy a site picture from the internet, you bring along all the animation with it.  Nothing I did.  I just copied the site picture and when I pasted it here, it started doing the same thing it was doing on the site I copied it from.

            Edited 3/27/2008 10:47 am ET by rodezzy

          5. stitchagain | | #19

            My stored fabric has been gone through and all lighter weight cottons has been separated out.  Just to prove that I have gone thru the process of mixing fabric in a quilt here are two scans.  The first one is a quilt I made maybe 15 years ago.  I started with a plaid and bought cloth to match that where mostly leaf prints.  The other one I did last year- is still not quilted up.  The top is pieced and what I am scanning is the left over paper piecing squares that I didn't used. 


            As a side note: My sister is going to dig out the butterfly quilt my grandmother made and photograph it and email me the photos.  I find I'd like to see it again before I attempt my own quilt.


            I really appreciated the comment about if you use 20 fabrics or more you should assume they go together, that was what I was thinking with the paper pieces quilt, where I used as crazy assortment of fabrics that I could find.



          6. rodezzy | | #20

            Thanks for sharing....Great job.

          7. MaryinColorado | | #21

            Very nice use of color on the checkerboard quilt!  As a new quilter I am learning to appreciate color "values" much more.  Happy quilting!  Mary

          8. stitchagain | | #22

            Thanks for the encouragement MaryInColorado and rodezzy.  The earlier quilt is in colors I still like a lot.  I wish then the picture was better and you could see that most of the prints are leaf prints.  From memory- the fabrics were picked out with restaint (there are always so many lovely fabrics-colors), but I was pleased with the end results.

            When I moved into the house I live in now 4-5 years ago, I spontaneously put that quilt in front of a bedroom window where it still stands.  I love it there- it keeps the room fairly dark and when the sun come up it shines thru the quilt beautifully. 




      4. damascusannie | | #9

        Given that you've already decided to make each butterfly individually, using up your saved scraps, I think that you are over-thinking the process. I'd just make each block, one at a time, and not worry about doing too much planning. You will need to figure out what size blocks you will make and calculate how many blocks you will need to make the quilt in the size that you want. Don't forget to add in borders and sashing if you plan to use them--you won't need to make as many blocks if you are. One "rule" (I HATE quilting rules, but this is a good one) when making scrap quilts is that if you have 20 or more fabrics, they will all work together, even the ones that don't seem like they would. The idea is that when you have this many fabrics, no single one is right or wrong any more because of the sheer number of fabrics. As near as I can tell, the only yardage you will need for your butterfly quilt is the yardage for the blocks, the sashing and the borders. I can help you with this part of the math if you want to e-mail me off-list.

      5. MaryinColorado | | #16

        You could make a test block, then figure how much of each fabric it takes, then figure out how many blocks of the butterfly you want. It sounds like a beautiful quilt.

        Rodezzy gave some great tips, she's a very prolific seamstress and makes many quilts. 

        You mentioned a design wall.  I have a wood cornice with a rod through it and a shelf above it.  (Like a curtain would hang from)  It makes a great design wall, I just put my batting up and attatch it with clothes pins on the side, then the quilt blocks "stick" to the batting so I can take them up and down as I sew them together.  It really helps to visualize and keep things in order. 

        Happy quilting~ Mary

  2. suesew | | #3

    Can you get one butterfly out of a quarter yard of fabric? Will each butterfly be made out of different fabrics or can you cut two out of a quarter yard? Do you have scraps that you already own that you can use for some? You just need to think it through with a little math.

  3. sewingkmulkey | | #13

    My only caution is against using large black fabric bodies.  If these dark bodies are paired with light delicate colored wings when you stand back and look at the quilt, your eye will go towards the dark bodies and the lovely butterfly wings will be lost.  In the 30's quilts the butterfly wings were outlined in a black blanket stitch to give definition to the wings.

    These are just my observations.



    1. stitchagain | | #14

      Thanks for all the great suggestions.  I don't expect to have a finish picture for you soon, but you have given me some starting points.  I hope my fabric stash supports my plans for a -cohesive yet -mixed piece -new yet -traditional quilt.



  4. stitchagain | | #23

    Well it's not the butterfly quilt that prompted my first posting, but it is a "scrap" quilt that I had as an unfinished project.  It is now a finished crib sized quilt (although the photos show it almost finished). 

    Now to work on my next "scrap" quilt.  I have organized all the lighter weight cottons in my fabric stash and completed a few blocks in old fashioned block patterns.



    1. damascusannie | | #24

      Cute! Isn't it satisfying to have a finished project?

      1. stitchagain | | #25

        Yes it is satisfying to have gone back and finished a project.  I had stopped working on it because the lines were not so straight and when I when back to it I realized that it was only on one small section.

        Thanks for the comment!

        1. rodezzy | | #26

          What a wonderful, wonderful, beautiful quilt.  So sweet and lovingly made.

          1. stitchagain | | #27

            Thank you rodezzy- especially since I have seen the quilts that you have produced and admired them greatly

          2. rodezzy | | #28

            I'm just glad you finished with such great success and we are inspiration to one another. 

    2. Gloriasews | | #29

      That's a very nice quilt!  It also would use up a lot of scraps.  Very pretty!  Now you can be pleased that you finally finished it.  Now, on to the next one.


    3. SAAM | | #30

      What a beautiful quilt! You did such beautiful work. I just gave away lots of scraps to a friend who teaches high school art. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't have kept some to try some quilting.

    4. GailAnn | | #31


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