I was on quilt Shop Hop two weekends ago with a couple of quilty friends from work. We did the Taste of Texas and Crusin’ the Coast and hit 9 stores over two days between San Antonio, Houston, and Corpus Christi with an overnight stay at my coast house. GIRLS ROADTRIP! Oh gosh we had the best time! The quilt talk, the wine, the stores, the wine, the fabric…You get the idea! At one of the stores, I saw the Quilter’s FabriCalc and I was intrigued. I stink at math and it’s not uncommon for me to either get too much or not enough fabric. I know there are “apps for that” out on the web but I have a Windows phone that doesn’t support one (I know, I know – get an Android device…but in my day job I know Google is a nosey dog and I hate Apple’s app restrictions – don’t get me started on geek stuff). Anyway, I passed on the calculator because it was like $30. In the back of my mind, I regretted missing the purchase but ignored the voice and pressed on.
A couple of days later, I went to my local quilt shop to get borders and backing for a panel I bought on the shop hop. I found my fabric ($11.95 a yard! Yikes!) and made my way to the cutting table. The lady asks me how much I needed and I told her enough for backing for a panel, a 4″ border, and binding. She just stares at me and says “OK. So how much?” I said, “I don’t know, I leave that to y’all.” Apparently she’s as bad at math as I am and in the wrong job. So we spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure it out.
While I was in the store, I said, “Why don’t y’all have one of those quilter’s calculators?” She said she’d heard they were too complicated and too hard and the manager chimed in that they had one at a store she used to work at and they could never figure it out. Well, it can’t be as difficult as what I was going through right then! I ordered the Quilter’s FabriCalc in the car on my phone before I left the parking lot. $22 on Amazon. Score!
When it arrived, I was determined to figure it out and make it work for me. It came with a big book I didn’t read, an instructional DVD, (that I can’t find to take a picture of) and a little pocket-size instruction book that actually goes INSIDE the back of the calculator case. Very cool. I love that it has a cover to close over it which will prevent any purse dirt from getting into the keys. Anyway, without even so much as turning it on, I sat down with the pocket instruction book determined to master the supposedly impossible device.
The biggest thing about this calculator at first glance, is not to get overwhelmed by all the buttons. It looks very intimidating, but as with most gadgets, it turns out you really only need to use a few of the buttons for most tasks. So in addition to the numbers buttons, you will mostly use the top row of buttons (that you use from left to right in order) and the Yardage or Inch button.
You guys will be amazed at how EASY this thing is! First of all, users need to understand that there are defaults built into the calculator. For those who don’t know the term default, it means “a given or assumed amount”. It assumes you have 40″ of usable fabric, you’re using 1/4″ seams, there is an additional 4″ of backing all around, and all binding strips are 2.5″ wide. That works for me. You can change these default amounts if you want in the preference settings. It displays in fractional amounts but can be set to decimal or metric.
My panel is 23″ across so I put in 23 and pressed the Inch button (above the 8) and then the Top Width button. Man, that was hard.
My panel is 39.5″ long so I pressed 39.5, then the Inch button, and then Top Length. Whew! Oh my brain.
My border is 4″ all around so I pressed 4, the Inch button, and Border. See how hard this is?
I don’t have a drop (it’s a wall hanging vs. a bed spread) so I skipped that button and I pressed the last button, Quilt Ydg, once. Quilt Ydg acts kind of like a “total” button. Pressing it multiple times will cycle through all the totals I will need. On the first press, it tells me my entire finished quilt top is 1 1/8 yards. Good to know, but that’s not important to me for this project.
Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me I need 1 5/8 yds for backing. Now we’re talking!
Press Quilt Ydg again and I need 1/2 yd for the border. I’m falling in love here.
Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me I be using 4 strips for the border.
Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me my border strips will be 4 1/2″ wide. I knew that already but it’s just cycling through its calculations. Go baby go!
Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me I need 1/3 yd for the binding.
Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me that I’ll have 4 binding strips.
Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me my strips are 2 1/2″ wide.
Press Quilt Ydg again and it goes back to the quilt top dimension again of 1 1/8 yds to begin going through the resulting measurements again. OK, so how much of this fabric do I need in total from all those amounts?
My borders, backing, and binding all going to be all the same fabric so I need to add those amounts together. I don’t have to write them down to do that either. To get a total amount of fabric, as I scroll through the results again in Quilt Ydg, I pressed the + sign after each amount I need. So I pressed the + sign (bottom right key) at the 1-5/8 backing screen.
I keep pressing Quilt Ydg again as it cycles through and then when it gets to 1/2 for the border, I press the + sign again.
And I press + again at the screen showing 1/3 yd for the binding. The total result was 2 1/3 yards!! Can you hear my heart singing?
Of course, since I didn’t have the quilt calc at the store I only got 2 yards so I have to go back. 🙂 Never again! This has changed my math-challenged quilting journey! Obviously, with all those keys, it can do many more things up to and including telling you how much the fabric will cost. If I ever feel the need, I can pull out the handy-dandy pocket guide to work those numbers out, but I’ll probably be sticking to the basic calculations for now.