Monday, August 1, 2016

How to design a quilt in Excel ...

I wanted to put together a post on how I use Excel to design my quilts.

First ... I quilt a lot in solids ... I love many of the beautiful prints that are out there, but my budget has been limited and I enjoy the simplicity of using solids to create from.  Second, this design tool only works for rectangular shapes ... it won't work for circles or triangles.  Finally, I use Excel on a Mac (granted ... not a great user experience, but it's what I have and haven't been able to convince MicroSoft to make a better version for Mac).

The following reflects a view of some placemats I want to make ... then I will follow up with a few views of how I have used it for quilt decisions.

1)  Start with a blank spreadsheet:


2)  Then I resize the height and width of the cells to make squares -- on the Mac, I use 0.21 for both the height and the width.  I then use Borders to make an outline of the quilt/placemat.  You can choose the dimension of each square.  For this placemat, I am using 1 square = 1".  That works well for high-level design -- typically, for more complex quilts I will go to 1 square = 1/2".


3)  I then fill in the square with the background color I intend to use ... remember, my quilts are usually solid, so there is often a base color that I am using.  In this case, it's gray.


4)  Then, I add color where I want to add design.


5)  In this case, I am making multiple placemats, so I copy and paste and then put in a different design with color on some.


This gives me an opportunity to evolve my design.  Try different dimensions, colors, shapes, etc.  I have had a vision in my head multiple times and when I put it on an excel spreadsheet ... it didn't go well ;-).  

You can change the view from 100% down to 25%.  I design at 100%, but then, in the case of quilts, to see the whole thing ... take it to 25%.

Here are a couple of examples of quilts designed this way ...

The back of a queen size quilt ... went with the design on the right.


A quilt design for my brother's birthday ... I didn't like either of them.


A quilt for my niece for her high school graduation.  Went with the one on the left.



As you can see, using Excel can work as a design tool for quilting ... it's not perfect ... but it's a tool I am comfortable in and it's already installed on my computer ...

Hope everyone had a great weekend ...

All the best,
Lisa


3 comments:

  1. Cool, Lisa! I've always wondered how people use spreadsheets to design quilts. Now I want to see if I can do it with Numbers - because I really don't want to install Excel on my Mac!

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  2. Yay! It works in Numbers too! You are a genius!!! Thanks so much for sharing...

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  3. I never looked at a spreadsheet like that before! How did you make the skinny bisected lines thru the blocks of color on the MidCentury Modern design?

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