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More Lessons Learned – Buying a Longarm from a .com

Those who’ve been following my blog for awhile know I bought a longarm quilt machine,  Grace frame, and the Quilt Butler robotics system from #SewingMachinesPlus.com last November.  My friends, what a ride this has been.  Today, JUST TODAY, April 9, 2017, I’ve got it running properly and I’m happy with the robotic quilting results.

I’m a firm believer now that in order to make something work right, you have to almost be as much of an expert as the seller or possibly even more of one.  That’s kind of hard if you are new to the game.  I’ve never owned a longarm on a frame before.  Typical of my personality, I jumped in head first without knowing if there’s water in the pool.  Well, maybe that’s not a good analogy, but I certainly should have worked on a longarm by renting time on a machine somewhere before purchasing one which would have helped me know what’s right in order to know when it’s wrong.  Of course, that wouldn’t have helped with Problem #1.

Problem #1 – The sales associate at #SewingMachinesPlus sold me the wrong frame that works with my robotics.  Today, their website is very specific about the frame type that can work with the Quilt Butler but last November, it wasn’t.  I wanted the Grace GQ vs. the Phoenix that was recommended on the page of their website that sells my King Quilter (made by Tin Lizzie) because the GQ came with free overhead lights and the Phoenix frame didn’t.  The sales associate should have let me know that the Butler doesn’t work with the GQ (yet).  My husband had to do some fabrication to the frame to make it work and QuiltEZ was impressed and asked me if they could use my images of his fix as a prototype.  I must say, the folks at #QuiltEZ who make the Butler have been fabulous this entire time.  The guy who owns the company actually called me personally and spent nearly an hour on the phone troubleshooting my issues.  Turns out:  1) I had the wrong frame style; and 2) the Y-axis belt was on inside out.  Apparently that’s kind of a thing.  The Y-axis belt makes the machine go front-to-back. And during this troubleshooting, I pointed out how their tech manuals were wrong.  It was a win for both of us.  Also I must add, SewingMachinesPlus.com made everything right by sending me an entirely new machine and tablet.  And they sent a free box of 84 spools of Madiera Rayon embroidery thread as compensation for my troubles.  Steve from their technical customer service has been exceptional.

Problem #2.  Putting the frame together correctly is key.  And when it is a DIY job, there’s always room for user error.  I’ve been dealing with this…

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It’s difficult to see but there are long, dragging, skipped, horizontal stitches which accompany a gazillion thread breaks.  You cannot begin to imagine my frustration.  On the bright side, I’m a master at resetting the start spot if the thread breaks.  🙂  These long, dragging stitches always seem to happen on the horizontal plane (X-axis) on the frame’s left side.  Odd.  I searched and searched on the internet and all that was out there were posts and articles about tension issues.  It’s definitely not a tension issue.  So last week while I was in my favorite quilt shop, a lady who is an experienced longarmer was there and I asked her about it.  After I described the problem, she said, “it’s probably the frame and/or carriage” (carriage = the platform the machine sits on that travels on the frame).   Huh…  Really…   She said to look for lint balls around the wheels and to make sure the frame is level.  That’s legit because I am guilty of shoving the frame around lately while getting the quilt studio set up.  She said the horizontal issue is something between the carriage on the frame and the stitch regulator in the Quilt Butler.  The robotics unit knows what it’s supposed to do, but it can’t get the carriage to go along with the plan.  OK, so then what is going on?  And how do I fix it?

Well, first make sure the frame is level.  It wasn’t.  You cannot do this with a small level like on your phone or one the size of your finger.  You need one that will stretch across both sides of the frame front-to-back and you have to level it left, right, and middle.  I had to lower the right front foot and the rear center foot.  Once that was done, it still didn’t work right (more thread breaks).  Wait, maybe if the frame was put together properly it might help.  This sounds like a ‘no duh’ concept, but I didn’t put it together so I blindly accepted the premise when I got home that day from work that hubs had put it together correctly.  (He was so proud!) Hey, stuff happens right?  I mean, he’s good with construction and mechanics so why would I question it?  Well, it turns out, the left and right front brackets that allow the height of the belly bar to change were on the wrong sides.  Now, I only discovered this today so I’m totally taking the hit for this myself too.  How long have I been staring at the L on the right front bracket (since November) and not noticing the one behind and below it was an R?  Again, ‘duh’.  Not to hurt hubs’ feelings, I took it apart myself and swapped them.  Now they look like this.  I started stitching again, and more thread breaks.  (See?  I’m REAL good at those.)

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Problem #3.  Make sure all the wheels on the lower carriage are rolling on the tracks and connecting with the frame.  Again, a ‘no duh’ concept.  But hey, I’m new.  Apparently, if all the wheels aren’t touching the frame, the carriage doesn’t do what the stitch regulator tells it to do.   As my mom would say, “No sh*t Sherlock.”  When we built the frame initially, all the wheels touched the tracks and it was all good.  But when we put the weight of the machine on the frame, there were times that that poor carriage was only on 5 wheels vs. the required 8…with two of them spinning freely on the left side of the frame.  Eureka!  One must loosen all 4 wheel screws on the lower carriage to get them to balance properly on the tracks, WHILE the weight of the machine is on the carriage.  I did this one-quarter turn at a time on all four wheel set screws.  That right back wheel below was spinning freely before the adjustment, as was the left front wheel on the other side and the left rear inside wheel as well.  NO FREAKING WONDER!!   And I did all these adjustments with a quilt on the frame.  Genius.  I’m not entirely sure this single issue would have resolved my problems because if the frame was torqued or not level, the wheels won’t level out.  Leveling order is frame, carriage, wheels.

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Once I got these issues fixed…Zen.  This beauty is so good I’m even using a different lighter color in the bobbin thread in the border and the stitches are perfectly balanced so you can’t see it.  The bobbin thread in the blue border is the same as what’s in the lighter-colored 1st border below. I started this blue border after all the adjustments were made and I didn’t have a single issue.  It worked perfectly.  I’m absolutely tickled!

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Last Lesson: Read ALL the Instructions, not just the ones you think you should.  Again, a ‘no duh’ moment but since hubs put the frame together, why would I read the instructions for the frame?  In a previous post, I lamented that there’s not a thing out there to tell me how to load the leaders or which way the rails should rotate.  In my defense, I did look at the instructions on how to load the little ratchet wheels on the ends of the frame rails, but it didn’t specify one way or the other.  So then today, while going through the instructions to reverse the previously mentioned backwards brackets, lo and behold, what do I come across?  In the back of the booklet, there are instructions on how to load a quilt onto the frame and they tell me which way the rails should turn!  YAY!  It should be noted that this frame does not use the ‘biblical scroll’ method like a Handi-Quilter frame does.  Not all frames are the same so that is a lesson learned as well. And now that the brackets are on correctly, the frame rolls and advances the way it should.

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I’m a junkie of this YouTuber, Jennifer Alexander, who publishes detailed vids on how to work the Butler.  And this lovely lady from #SederQuilts shows how to fix oopsies that happen on a longarm.  I be using these techniques on this quilt to fix the long stitch issue I had throughout the body of the quilt…on the left side.

So in summary, I think I have all the kinks worked out and now I know enough about the mechanics of this thing to troubleshoot any future issues.  It’s been frustrating, it’s been painful, and at times it’s been the War of the Roses here at home.   But by buying online, I saved over $14,000 which is a TON of cash y’all.  My final cost was $13,365 compared to my friend who bought an APQS and a Quilt Path last year that she got from a dealer for over $27,000.  Believe me, buying from a dealer isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.  There are plenty of horror stories out there about crappy customer service, training, delivery, installation, etc., etc., etc.  Looking back, my experience was totally worth it.  Would I do it again?  You bet.  But I wish I’d of read this post in my blog first.  To anyone who is considering it, I say go for it.  Any troubles are worth the money saved.

NOTE:  The quilt on the frame is for hubs’ birthday so I can’t show the whole thing until it’s finished.  Sorry!

Room is Finished & a Backwards Quilt Butler Fix

Finally!  My old sewing room is empty and everything has been migrated into the new quilting studio!  It has taken weeks…months.  Here is my new lair.  

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I even did my first attempt at quilting with a pantograph.  Let me tell you, that’s MUCH harder (for me) than it looks.  And I can tell you that it is true what they say, “Practice, practice, practice.”  I used my new long arm for the very first time, and did a pantograph for my very first time, and it turned out…well…really bad.  But that’s OK!  At least I know that the machine works, the laser works, and I don’t know how to align a pantograph. 

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 The quilt that’s on the frame now is actually one I made years ago and I’d originally sandwiched by pinning, and then did some freehand and ruler work on my mid-arm sit-down only to reaffirm what I already knew – that I can’t freehand.  Since this quilt was a UFO, I just took the pins out and rolled all three layers onto this new frame to get in some practice.  But what fun!  Even though I’ve made some newbie mistakes (like forgetting to lower the presser foot resulting in horrendous loops on the backside) and my sewing looks like a 4-year-old did it, I’m so excited to have something for me to work on and get better at.   

UPDATE!  After I began this blog post, my MULTI-TALENTED AND FABULOUS husband fabricated new brackets for the frame and got the robotics to work!  This is the Grace GQ frame, one of their newer models that QuiltEZ, who makes the Butler robotics, haven’t worked the kinks out of yet.  Finally, QuiltEZ fessed-up that their installation videos on YouTube show to install the encoder on the wrong side of the upper carriage resulting in the machine moving backwards when it’s supposed to go forwards.  In the photo below, everything is as how the instructions say to install it.   See that black box?  That’s the Quilt Butler robotics unit on the front of the machine – you can tell it’s the front because the sewing needle is above the box.  Note the black belt that runs on that little wheel on top of the box and it only turns one way.  That’s what moves the machine front-to-back.  And in this case, front-to-bassackwards.  There’s a light gray belt directly behind the box that runs from one end of the frame to the other for side-to-side movement.  Note in the 2nd photo how there is not a place to mount the gray belt on the back side of the frame.  You can see how the gray belt is attached with brackets in front of the machine, but there isn’t an extension to install the bracket off the back of the frame.  Here’s where my husband earned his keep yesterday.  (just kidding!)

 

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20170118_154653 I’ve been at my wit’s end because the front-to-back path line on the tablet went the wrong direction.  When I pulled the machine toward me, it went to the back of the quilt and vice versa.  Then they told me that the Butler really needed to be mounted under the machine vs. on the end of it.  That is NOT what the instructions said and that is NOT what I wanted.  Because if we put the robotics unit under the machine, I wouldn’t be able to do pantographs because I couldn’t install the table shelves that the paper will lay on.  So it was one or the other but of course, I wanted BOTH.  So my husband made brackets that extend the left-to-right belt off the back of the frame vs. underneath it, we moved the little encoder wheel on the top carriage from the right side to the left side and flipped the lower carriage around so the box hangs off the back.  I’m sure this is confusing and I’m sorry.  But the end result is that it WORKS!  I pleaded with him to round the corners on those brackets because I was sure to run into them and cause myself an injury.  He’s such a sweetie!  

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Here’s a video of the robotics in action.

I made his favorite dinner tonight of course!   And I think QuiltEZ owes us some money somehow for figuring out their mess.  Patent pending?  Now, no more excuses.  I have to learn how to use the Quilt Butler and pronto!  My freehand is sooo bad that I really need that help!

December #SewSampler is Here!

It’s like Christmas in January!  My #SewSampler from FatQuarterShop.com came in the mail today and it’s so much fun to open one of these.  Where do I start?

1.  A Birds of Liberty Half Roll Up from Robert Kaufman Fabrics.  2.  Six spools of coordinating 1930’s Aurifil applique thread.  3.  Orange Peel Impressions Quilting Templates to be used for applique.  4.  Round Robin Impressions Quilt Pattern to turn the orange peels into a bright and colorful quilt.  And finally,  5.  Sew Cherry Magnet Set to brighten up my kitchen!

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There’s also a Block 9 recipe but I’m not making that quilt.  On the back of the contents card is a nice 2017 Quilt Resolutions form where you can look back at your successes for 2016 and then list your goals for 2017.  I think I’m going to add “Master my new longarm!”  ha  We’ll see about that…

Quilt Butler Install & Spider Man Quilt

The 3-room transition is finally taking shape.  For my new blog followers, we enclosed a back patio to become a quilt studio for my new longarm and frame.  My old sewing room is 90% moved into the studio, hubs is moving his custom fishing rod hobby into my old sewing room, and then we can get our game room back because he has 7-foot fishing poles all over the pool table.  I’m still in the process of moving everything that is not sewing related out of the quilt studio.  Baby steps my friends.  The wagon is full of tools needed to install the windows and doors and put everything all together but we’re getting closer.

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I purchased my longarm, the King Quilter 18″ Special Edition, the Grace GQ frame, and the QuiltEZ Butler from Sewing Machines Plus .com.  This has been a real experience y’all.  Long story short, they ended up sending me an entire new machine and tablet last week.  It’s been nothing but problems, problems, problems and I still haven’t quilted on it yet.  SMP has done everything they can in a timely fashion to make it right, but it’s just the entire process that’s been a pain.  They are a middle-man between Grace Frames (zero problems with the frame so Grace is still in my… well…good Graces  lol), Tin Lizzie who makes the machine, and QuiltEZ who makes the robotics. 

First QuiltEZ sent the wrong hardware to mount the Quilt Butler robotics unit to my frame so I shipped the wrong hardware back and received new.  Then the tablet died and wouldn’t reboot so we swapped tablets.  Then it was still the wrong bracket for the robotics so a third bracket was sent.  Then the encoders were faulty – they are the little wheels on the carriage that tell the tablet where the machine is on the frame – so I got new encoders.  The new encoders seemed to work, the tablet worked, but the precision stitch (stitch regulator) on the machine wouldn’t work and the machine would freeze.  This was a real issue because the robotics in the Quilt Butler uses the precision stitch.  Fortunately, I’m tech savvy enough to upload videos of the problem to YouTube and SMP could see the problem immediately and determine that it wasn’t user error.  They immediately sent out an entire new machine, tablet (3rd tablet), encoders, and all.  SMP promised me they would test the new machine for two hours before sending it to me.  It got here, I set it all up and it and everything works fine.  Finally, hubs went to install the robotics yesterday and the 3rd mounting bracket is still the wrong one!   Fortunately, he’s got the ability to make it work and asked me if I wanted him to retro-fit the new bracket which would mean drilling additional holes into it.  I told him to go ahead – what do we have to lose at this point.  If it still doesn’t work, then we’ll send it back again but I really want this baby up and running you know?  He did some minor fabrication and the robotics unit is mounted.  That’s as far as we got last night.  Those two silver Phillip’s head screws are in the new holes he made.

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Today he’ll work on installing the belts that move the carriage around on the frame.  So I bought this on Nov 3rd and today is January 16th.  I’m about to make my second payment on my 0% interest 4-year plan and I still haven’t been able to use it.   Actually, at this point, I just shrug my shoulders and laugh at the situation.  It’s that or get pissed enough to raise my blood pressure and it just isn’t worth that.  To SMP’s credit, they are letting me have a clear plastic grid for the pantographs ($79) and a $300 box of Madiera embroidery thread both for $100.  We tried for free, but couldn’t make that happen.

So there you have it.  The only comfort in this for me, is that misery loves company.  I follow another blogger and she just dropped $10k on the Quilt Path for her APQS and still can’t get it to work right either.  So much for a private dealer right?  Still, I don’t know if the Butler works properly yet or not until we get it all hooked up.  I found a video on YouTube where QuiltEZ is going to have 4 live webinars on how to use the Quilt Butler from start to finish to include different patterns in different blocks and how to do the borders.  In the video they recommended we make up a quilt top to use for the class with sectional blocks, sashing, and a border.  I finished a UFO Spider Man quilt from Villa Rosa designs that I’ve had in the works for my oldest grandson (5) for the last year or so.  I have a horrible cold right now and I’m heavily medicated so I wasn’t paying attention to row placement as I put it together.  But hey, “Finished is Better than Perfect” right?  I’m sure my grandson won’t even notice.

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Design Ideas Needed-Patio Retrofit for a Quilt Studio

OK guys, I did it.  I completely lost my mind and went whole hog and invested in the King Quilter 18″ Special Edition long arm quilting machine with a 10″ Android tablet, the Grace GQ Frame, and the Quilt Butler robotics.   The whole mess was on sale and came with free Luminess lighting to go over the frame.

I say “invested” because I could buy a new car for what I paid for this thing.  Hubs said, “Are you going to get another job to pay for this?”  I said, “This IS the other job!”  We’re still not finished with the install because the wrong carriage hardware was sent.  The new will be here next week sometime.  This is about 5 hours of labor here and it took 45 minutes just to unpack the frame.  It’s 10 feet long and in this image it’s still not finished.

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“So what is that thing?”  I’ve had so many non-quilters ask me that.  In layman’s terms, this is the frame and machine that sandwiches together a quilt top, the fluffy batting in the middle, and the backing together into a one-piece blanket with fancy stitching designs.  The robotics will do the sewing for me automatically – I simply tell it where the four corners are, choose a design, and press Go.  When it’s finished, I manually roll the quilt forward to the next blank space and repeat until the quilt is finished.  I should be able to finish a quilt in a day.  And believe me, with the recent explosion in home quilting, there’s a ton of work out there.  I have 5-6 quilt tops myself that need finished and it would cost me anywhere between $150 and $300 each to send them out to have them quilted.  The nearest quilt shop has 30+ quilts in the queue and it’s 25 miles away.  There’s a demand for this and I’m here now to support it.

The room that will become my new quilting/sewing studio and will house my 9 (yes, nine…as in 1 less than 10) machines, has been affectionately named The Sweat Shop by a Hispanic coworker (ha ha – thanks Juan!), and is a screened-in porch – like what some call a Florida room.  We like to sit outside in the evenings, so in 2008 we enlarged our back patio to 15′ x 20′ and fully enclosed it to include extending the roof line of our house.  From above, you cannot tell there was an addition.  The point then was not to have windows but instead have a bug free outdoor zone to hang out in.  Well, that never happened.  Hubs moved further outside to the new uncovered back patio extension and the screened-in patio became a glorified dog room.  A little story…there’s a storm door between the original house and the back patio with a doggie door in it.  There are two screen doors on the back patio and I’ve taped over the latches so they don’t latch.  One door can be pushed out and the other door can be pushed in.  Some coaxing with a leash and bologna, and the dogs learned the in/out process and now I never have to let them out.  They have a full-360 degree run.  THAT’s what I call Master Sergeant thinking!  lol

In 2011 when my first grandchild arrived, I began quilting in earnest.  I modified a rarely used guest bedroom into my sewing room and designated the RV as our guest house.  As my power tool arsenal expanded, I moved my 18″ sit down quilt machine into the game room.  I tried to get hubs to allow me to take over the game room completely (the pool table was perfect for cutting out fabric), but he wasn’t having it.  Then HE started making custom fishing rods and took over the pool table in the game room himself.  Our hobbies (and my future retirement home business) had us bursting at the seams.  The thread on that stand is not for sewing, it’s to wrap guides onto fishing poles.  This is his mess, not mine.  There’s a pool table under there somewhere.

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Then it hit me.  Why not retrofit the back patio into a quilting studio, hubs can have my old sewing room for his fishing poles, and we can get our game room back?  WIN!!  The next stop was to Lowe’s to order custom windows and real storm doors for the Sweat Shop.  They will be here Dec 14th.  In consideration for the dogs, the new doors have doggie doors in them.  This also allows me another exterior entrance into the Sweat Shop for customers to drop off quilt tops.  I love that.  I will strategically place floor pillows for the dogs away from the quilting area – I’m obsessed about not having dog fur everywhere.  We also are going to duct air conditioning & heat into the room.  The sun screens will be taken down with the new windows so the light into the room will be much brighter too.  I’m so sick of the dark, but in a very hot South Texas you have to sacrifice light to save on the electric bill which was usually upwards of $400 a month in the summer.  Hopefully, the new AC we installed this year will help with that too.

I need help with decorating ideas for shelving and fabric storage for the Sweat Shop.  I don’t want to block the light from the windows with big cabinets and I have very limited wall space because of the brick.  We’re not opposed to mounting things on the brick, but I want to maintain the brick look.  Possibly paint it a brighter color?  Hmmm.  The TV is staying.  I don’t want it to look half-assed thrown together, but instead a happy professional looking studio where quilters want to be.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

New gizmo! Quilt Calculator

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!
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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.
WP_20160218_07_41_20_Pro 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.
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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.
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My panel is 39.5″ long  so I pressed 39.5, then the Inch button, and then Top Length.  Whew!  Oh my brain.
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My border is 4″ all around so I pressed 4, the Inch button, and Border.  See how hard this is?
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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.
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Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me I need 1 5/8  yds for backing. Now we’re talking!
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Press Quilt Ydg again and  I need 1/2 yd for the border. I’m falling in love here.
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Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me I be using 4 strips for the border.
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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!
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Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me I need 1/3 yd for the binding.
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Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me that I’ll have 4 binding strips.
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Press Quilt Ydg again and it tells me my strips are 2 1/2″ wide.
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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.
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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.
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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?
WP_20160221_07_16_34_Pro 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.

New Quilt Project! 2016 Sugar Block Club

One of the best things about a new year is a new Block of the Month (BOM) project.  For quilting newbies, a BOM is a great way to make your first quilt.  You get a new block each month from the hoster of the project and you have a whole month to finish the block.  You buy your own fabric and by signing up, you’ll get a new block pattern every month.  Near the end of the year, you’ll get instructions on how to put your quilt together too.  Most BOMs have a monthly fee or monthly financial obligation but the one I’m in is FREE!  Yay!  Making one block at a time definitely de-stresses the entire quilting process.  Nothing overwhelming here!
Sugar Block ClubAmy Gibson is an amazing quilter up in Colorado and she’s hosting her 2016 Sugar Block Club.  This is a BOM project that only uses 4 yards of fabric so one of my layer cake precuts will work.  This is my third season with Amy and not only is she an amazing quilter, she’s an amazing instructor!  Her directions are tested and clear and very easy to understand.  In a previous year, she challenged me with paper piecing and I’m still not good at it but if it weren’t for her, I’d of never attempted it.

My fabric is The Boathouse by Sweetwater for Moda.  This is a beautiful fabric line that I thought would make a great quilt to keep on a guest bed at the coast.
BoathouseLabelMy layer cake has several pieces of each fabric in the line.  Aren’t they great?!
boathouseAllSo if you’re new to quilting, I encourage you to join Amy’s SBC and get started.  I linked to her site above – just sign up and you’ll get an email notice each month.   Too simple!  I know you’ll love it.  Here’s my completed January block.  The center of my block is screaming for an embroidered boat wheel don’t you think?  😉
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