Monday, February 9, 2015

Answer #8 - Figuring fabric sizes

I've seen this one too many times to count.
A quick shout-out to Margie for letting me know about my typos!

How do I figure out how much fabric I need for my project?

I'm sorry, but this question irks me to no end.  No, I'm not a "math person" - that's my sister.  To me it's a sad commentary on the educational system (I'm only referring to the USA).  This question involves arithmetic.  There are no "x" or "y" formulas, just basic  division and addition with some rare multiplication.  Yes, you have to answer a few questions to get to the arithmetic, but they aren't difficult.  For the actual arithmetic, you can use a calculator!

There are three variations on this question and I'll address all three.  Since I'm in the US, I'm using inches.  The premise is the same for centimeters though I've never seen fabric counts listed in centimeters.  You're on your own doing the conversions to metric, sorry.

The first is:  How big does my fabric need to be?

Here are the questions you answer first:

  1. What is the stitch count of your project?
  2. What is the count of the fabric you are going to stitch it on?
  3. Are you going to stitch over 1 or 2 fabric threads?
  4. Are you going to frame it when it's done?
As an example, I'm going to calculate what size fabric I will need to stitch Still Life on a Marble Pedestal:

1.  What is the stitch count?  625 wide x 797 high.
2.  What is the count of the fabric?  28 count
3.  Am I going to stitch over 1 or 2 fabric threads?  over 1
4.  Am I going to frame it?  yes - that means I need to allow 3" per side for framing.

Since I am stitching over 1 on 28 count fabric, that means I will have 28 stitches per inch.
(If I had said over 2, that means I would have 14 stitches per inch - 28 ÷ 2 = 14.  All calculations below would have to be divided by 14.  The project would be twice as large each direction!)

To find how wide I need my fabric, I will divide.  My pattern is 625 stitches wide.  Since my fabric will give me 28 stitches per inch, I will divide 625 by 28.  That will tell me how many inches I will need for 625 stitches.

625 ÷ 28 = 22.3214...

To be safe, I always round UP!  That means I need 23" of fabric for the width of the pattern.  That will only allow for the stitching.  To allow for framing, I want 3" of material on each side of my stitching so I add 6" to the 23" to give me the width of 29" for my fabric.

Now for the height of my fabric. I do the arithmetic using the only number that is different:  the project height in stitches.  So again, I will divide my stitch count by the number of stitches per inch:

797 ÷ 28 = 28.4642...

Again, rounding up means I need 29" for the stitching.  Adding in the 6" for framing gives me (29+6) a height of 35".

So stitching this project on 28 count over 1 and allowing for framing, means I would need a piece of fabric 29" wide x 35" high.

The second is:  What stitch count do I use to fit a certain set of dimensions?

Say you already have a particular frame and you want to see how to make a project fit the frame.

For this example, let's use QS Hummingbird:

This project has a stitch count of 189 wide x 163 high.  This is much more likely to fit an existing frame than my previous example!  ;-)

Let's say you found a gorgoeus frame that has an opening of 16" x 14".  Would you be able to stitch this to fit in your frame?  Let's find out!

Okay, your frame is 16" wide.  Your pattern is 189 stitches wide.  If you divide your number of stitches by the number of inches you have to work with, you'll get this:

189 ÷ 16 = 11.8125

11.8125 equals the number of stitches you would have to have per inch of fabric to just fit into your frame.  Since no fabric has a stitch count of 11.8125, you're going to have to opt for a fabric with more stitches to the inch than 11.8125.  The obvious choices would be 14 count over 1 or 28 count over 2.

Now, let's double-check to see if 14 count would work for both dimensions of the frame.

189 ÷ 14 = 13.5"  for the width      163 ÷ 14 = 11.64"  for the height.

That will leave you approximately 2.5" to work with inside your frame.
16" - 13.5" = 2.5"                14" - 11.64" = 2.36"

That works out to a blank space of about 1.25" on each side of your stitching once it's framed.

That is a bit on the narrow side for a mat but I've actually seen smaller mats.  You could use a mat or just leave the blank gap.  Be sure to use spacers if you have glass but no mat!

The third is:  What can I fit on my already cut piece of fabric?

I have a gorgeous piece of this from Silkweaver:

To find out what will fit on it, here's what I need to know:

1.  What are the dimensions of my fabric in inches?  18" x 26"
2.  What is the stitch count?  32 count
3.  Do I want to frame my finished piece?  yes

This process is like the first example at the top of this post, in reverse.

Since I want to frame whatever I stitch on this, I need to subtract the 3" per side (6" total) for the framing.  That gives me:

18 - 6 = 12 inches       26 - 6 = 20 inches

That means I have 12" x 20" of stitching area.  Since it's 32 count and I tend to stitch over 1, I would multiply to find out what stitch counts my project has to stay within.

12 x 32 = 384          20 x 32 = 640

Now I know that I can choose any of my charts that have a stitch count of 384 x 640 or smaller. 

I've tried to make sure that I included every step required to do the arithmetic but if you see one I've missed, let me know and I'll update this post.

Happy Stitching!



Connie Aldridge said...

You explained it perfectly!!!!! good job!

Katie said...

I use an online fabric calculator at haha. But you explained it perfect!!

sew.darn.quilt said...

HAED has a fabric calculator too but it's always good to know how to do the numbers. Thank you for the information.