Saturday, December 29, 2018

Tracking Fabric

I was reading at Quiltville's Open Studio (Facebook page) an inquiry by Vireya, about wanting to track how much fabric and thread she uses during 2019. Someone else posted a link to this site, In Color Order... from 2017, and I noticed similarities in my own tracking system, which I developed initially around 1999. I may have occasionally made reference to it in prior posts, but thought I'd share my system. Below is an image of how my own spreadsheet looks followed by an extensive detail of how it works. I've narrowed the columns in order to fit it in a screen grab and selected 'large'. I tried 'extra-large' and 'original' as size options but both extended too far beyond the Blogger-allowed space to view. I hope it opens large enough to see. If not, you'll have to visualize in your minds.

Disclaimer: I use standard features within Excel, pretty basic ones actually, but if you're not familiar with Excel, I won't be your teacher! You'll have to learn it by some other means; I had a few computer classes for my job back in the day, and that's been close to 25 years ago! Just clearing that up here at the beginning.

I'm not directly addressing Vireya's question/comments, and I would not expect anyone to utilize my system but if it is of interest to anyone and you think it would be helpful, please feel free to use and link back to this post. I also would not expect anyone who has been collecting fabric (like me) to go back into their stash and log in every fabric...unless you're one of those who likes to count beans along with me. It would be a lot of work, not to mention most people don't keep receipts like I do. But if you're just starting out, and find this appealing, go for it. Adjust it to what works for you, as simple or as complex as you like. 

If like Vireya, you just want to track a year, I can see that creating a blank sheet with any or all desired columns, and logging in as you use a fabric could work. I write about this just to show how I've been tracking my fabric for nearly 20 years. Feel free to ask questions if I'm confusing anywhere (I'm sure I can be!).

Column A: "#" I assign numbers to all my fabric. I allow four spaces plus I can use a decimal point. In Excel, you can add a comment within any cell. I add a comment in the primary cell for any given fabric notating which project I used that fabric in. Some have been used in many different quilts as the remaining pieces become strips, squares or other scraps.

comment within a cell, designated by the red triangle. Hovering over will make the cell pop up or you can right-click and select 'edit comment'.
Columns B and C: Date of Acquisition and Provider - should be pretty obvious. 

Columns D through G: "D" is the purchased length, before washing (I'm a fabric washer). This is not the place for short-cut or over-cut by the provider for length of fabric, or for shrinkage after washing. 
"E" is the width, selvedge/selvage (you decide how you spell it - I had old-school teachers who seem to have had British spelling habits) to selvedge/selvage. I can be lazy, so I haven't always measured this on yardage, and often use what I've found to be fairly typical with 42" as the norm. 
"F" is the square area of the fabric. In this cell I've placed a formula. This is a function within Excel that can be used if you know how to do it. Re-read my disclaimer. The basic math is D x E = F. Once a formula is in this cell (doesn't show except in the space where you might see a URL on a webpage - see, I don't even know all the terminology so how could I teach Excel?) you can drag the formula through every cell in that column and you don't actually type into it. Entering the length and width, Excel now does the calculation which shows up near-miraculously.
"G" is the approximate yardage equivalent. This column has a formula built into it which is the F ÷ by the number of square inches in a yard** = G. OK, a note here. The number of square inches in a yard is the length of one yard (36") x the width of one yard (42") which is 1512 square inches. Another disclaimer...I don't do metric - that's on you to figure out if you do. I also say 'approximate' because I don't measure perfectly all the time, and because my settings extend to two beyond the decimal which anything beyond that is rounded up or down by the formula & settings. And also, I don't change the 1512 square inch in the formula even if my yardage is actually a 36" x 36"  or 36" x 58" piece. My yardage equivalent is based on if the fabric were the fairly typical 42" width. I can't be bothered with changing it for a single cell here and there. The amounts in D through G are never changed - they stay the same forever. 

You will probably notice that there are some zeros in some of the D - G columns. In some cases these were fabrics which I obtained early on before I started my tracking sheets. Though I had kept most of my receipts from my purchases, I was not able to ascertain which fabric matched which purchase and my memory did little to assist. 

Others are because, and you'll note that there are the same numbers with a .1 or .2 after them, I may have made one purchase of several yards of fabric. It is a single line item. From that yardage and after using some of it, perhaps some full width piece remains along with smaller pieces, maybe a fat quarter, or a pieces that aren't full width. I don't again add it to the original amount because it's already included. Instead, I create a separate line, with the .1, .2, etc. placing zeros in the original columns and the dimensions of the piece(s) in the remaining columns, adding as many lines as needed to account for all pieces. Some of these will eventually be cut down to strips or squares for scrap quilts.

Columns H through K: These columns are handled exactly the same as D - G, except they do change as I use my fabric. Here also is where I'll put the actual size of fabric that was cut over/under or after shrinkage because the totals in columns J & K will let me know how much of that fabric I actually have. Helps when I'm following a pattern that calls for a yard of fabric and I only have a 35" length...could be a close call if I decide to use it.

Column L - N: "L" is straight-forward. The cost per yard paid. 
But, you can decide what you want to track (whether actual costs before or after any applied discounts) and if you have trouble remembering your decision, add a comment in the column header explaining your 'cost' as a reminder. I typically use what I actually paid for a fabric before taxes (we have state sales tax added to all purchases - it changes year to year thanks to voters and government). I'm more interested in what my hobby/craft is costing me, but some may care to have the higher value for insurance purposes, or some other reason only you might know.  It also helps with knowing the truer value of what the materials cost for a given project. 

If I was gifted or otherwise given the fabric, I usually don't put a cost in, or I might use $1 per yard, just to show it has value. The fabric I purchased at the Fain Yard Sale (see sample page)...I bought a huge box of scraps & yardage of mixed fabrics for a set price...I've no idea what it broke down to so entered as zero cost. I may have added a split-value elsewhere for a bigger piece of yardage from that purchase.

The formula in "M" simply multiplies the original yardage equivalent times the cost, whereas  "N" uses the remaining yardage equivalent times the cost. To help me keep them straight, I color-coded them and their respective columns.

Column O: Here is my designation for how the fabric was originally purchased, whether yardage (Y) i.e full-width by whatever length, fat quarters (FQ) ~18"x~22" purchased/received as such, or scraps (S) which typically were given to me rather than purchased.  I don't purchase pre-cuts aside from FQs so I have no designations for those things - do what fits best for you.

Column P: I mostly use shelves and bins. I try to group my yardage on the shelves with a specific way of folding keeping color families close together. Shelves usually house full-width yardage regardless of length up to but under 4 yards. Four-yards up to but under 5 yards are folded slightly differently but still shelved. Five yards and over are folded along the length and placed on hangers (just those with the cardboard tubing to prevent a crease) so that the selvedges then meet. Generally, anything that isn't a full width is folded and placed in bins. I will say, that sometimes things don't get done according to 'my own rules' and are out of place. Scraps are cut and cleaned up and placed in color-family small shoe box size bins. I wrote under the heading "Well, Looky Here" (with pictures) how I do this, though I don't use the open bins for the FQs now, and now all the yardage has been folded the same way. Going for consistency here for my system to work, but it seems there's may still be some minimal tweaking to do.

In this column, I've also started placing an indicator for when I have designated that fabric for a specific project though it may still be on the shelf. I make the same note on the form I pin to that fabric so I don't accidentally use it. Why keep it on the shelf at all as opposed to a project box? Because I may have bought considerably more than the amount for the project. My notes will tell me how much I might be able to use otherwise.

Column Q: Here's the fabric description, often taken from the selvedge, or if from JoAnn's the number from the receipt too. More recently I've started taking a photo of the bolt ends - much easier than writing them down since sometimes the cut is shorter and doesn't get the selvedge's description. I'm not really good at describing colors, like what's the difference between mustard, straw, dark cream, beige, tan, ecru - they all start jumbling, so I also keep a fabric swatch book with correlating fabric number and a 1 3/8" x 1 1/8" swatch glued in. I used Excel to make that sheet too, but use printed copies to put in a notebook.

and lastly,

Column R: I don't consistently use this; it usually extends beyond my screen size and I forget it's there. It's also a more recent addition, and a single word can be used in the front of the description in the same way. Such as: Solid: XYZ Fabrics, deep purple. Other descriptors: T-o-T, W-o-W, Batik, Christmas, Novelty, Children's, you get the idea.

You might also notice a couple lines where the print is grayed. This indicates there is no longer any of that fabric in my stash, except maybe the smallest of a scrap not worth logging. If you're wondering why my spreadsheet is high-lighted in all blue it's because a few years ago, I wanted to combine several sheets I had with different numbering designations. I had kept yardage, pieces, scraps and a couple other listings separately even if of the same fabric, but found that annoying and cumbersome, so began a revamp and clean-up of my stash closet, shelves, bins, drawers and the lists. I had to have two work-sheets open on my screen to compare, and used the high-light to designate which was done. I still have a few stragglers that I need to finish and the blue is easy on the eyes, so I've left it.

Initially, my numbering system was xxxx.x for yardage and FQ, and Pxxx.x for pieces, etc. I'm no longer using the P, but will not be converting the existing P #s to straight numbers. I also am still using Sxxx.xx for scraps, but am seriously reconsidering the smaller pieces of scraps and may give that portion over to non-OCD behaviour, living free of numbers.  My current numbers are at 1336.0, E64.2, J127.0, P293, and S649 indicating the number of different fabrics for each numbering code. The E and J numbers designated specific individuals/purposes of fabric and are no longer used but will not be changed to my standard numbering convention.  

You may say "Why spend so much time doing this, and for what purpose; I'd rather sew." And that's fine, as I said, this is my system; it helps me and calms me knowing what I have and where. It's a tracking method. We all create and work differently. Some are willy-nilly and others are more anal and both work great for that individual. So, if it, or any variation of it work for you for any purpose, whether for just a year, or for a lifetime, go for it...or don't :)


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Today's The Day

My bladder woke me a little earlier than usual this morning, so I took advantage of the earlier time to check for the Quiltville Mystery Quilt Intro. I think it's going to be a wait-and-see as to whether I'm going to do it, based on the color scheme. The one color that appears to maybe be predominant aside from the neutrals is orange. I use very little orange, so there's little in my stash - even if I included FQs and yardage; the total would be not much more than 1/3 of the requirement. I'm considering yellow, but am sure I would have to cut into some FQs and yardage to accommodate the requirement as well.
Sum total of my orange "scraps".

Following along, saving and printing the instructions and getting the paint chips are still on the agenda, so we'll see where it goes from there in the months ahead. I can't deny that I have plenty to do! All one has to do is review my UFO Parade and see how many projects need to be finished. There are a few that aren't even showing on there yet. Digging out of my 'black hole' has been challenging!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Mystery Season

The Quiltville, Bonnie Hunter mystery introduction for 2018 is almost here. Her followers and devotees know of what I speak. Her traditional date of release for colors and yardage is October 31st. That is just two days away, on Wednesday. There has been much expectant chatter on her Facebook group, and while I'm still unsure as to whether I will actually do it this year, I'm looking forward to seeing what she has going this year.

I first 'discovered' Bonnie Hunter in 2011, probably later than many, but have been hooked ever since, attended one of her quilt guild presentations meeting her in person and had my picture taken with her...she's a quilting world Rock Star, and while I wasn't a Beatles fan, I am a fan of Bonnie's, though I still won't scream my silly head off like a teenager.

The first mystery I became acquainted with was Orca Bay though I did not make it.  Some day I hope to. And as you can see by the labeled manila folders above, I have all of the patterns from 2011 through 2017, and if you look really closely, you'll see a folder for 2018 without a pattern name...I'm ready! And to be clear and respectful to Bonnie, I will not provide any part of these patterns to anyone so please do not ask. They are Bonnie's copyrighted property and available to purchase either on her website store, or printed in one of her books.

I'm still working on (well, I haven't really since last December when I last sewed anything) En Provence from 2016 and did not do last year's On Ringo Lake.

I'll briefly explain my organization: 

I trim a regular manila folder to fit an approximate 1/4" stack of 8.5" x 11" paper. That way it's pretty much like any other soft-cover book on my shelf. I crease at the fold closest to the actual fold of the folder and print the pattern name, Bonnie's name as the author, and the year of issue. It overlaps two years, but the year released is to me the actual year date.
Inside the folder, I glue a card envelope where I keep the paint chips. I suppose you could put any size envelope to your liking, in there, or even a zippered plastic bag, but this is my own preference.

I keep the pattern sheets in order - that only makes sense, right? Except if I'm actively working on it, then, while they're still in order, the finished portions are moved to the back of the stack. 

Anticipating this years colors! Will they include green, orange, pink, yellow, red, white neutrals, cream neutrals, black or green and in what shade and hue? From where will she have taken her inspiration? Someplace she's been this year or some other time in the past? Two more days, and we'll know.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Where's The Fire?

No fire, but some cute juvenile print firemen, fire hats, trucks and Dalmatians fabric strips.
firetrucks, firemen
These are from the scraps received from my aunt back in July. She has three grandsons, one of which likely received a quilt made from this fabric. I was looking to trim these but the thought that came to mind was, "Wow, they'd make a cute binding.", even if you couldn't see the entirety of the images.The three strips shown above are 2.25" - 2.5" strips, so would be perfect for binding. I'll probably just trim off loose threads for now.
Dalmations and hats
These though, at 1.25" for the hats, and less than 2" for dogs would do better as a border or in blocks.
one side if folded for binding
I folded one strip as if it were attached to a quilt, and above and below are the results. One side would show the tires, the other a section of the body of the truck. If some of the fabric is used in a quilt, it would make for a fun binding.
and the other side.
I may have to plan a quilt around just these "scraps of fabric". I think there's enough for binding a smaller quilt, or to mix-and-match if need be. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday What's Up?

I'm still plugging along on trimming up the scraps my aunt passed along to me this past summer. It's quite tedious at times and slow going as there were so many scraps, and I have to break from it to fit in household chores and tend to other necessary duties.

I sure hope some of them fit the color scheme for this year's Quiltville mystery quilt, though like last year, I may only follow along.

The greens have been the focus over the last too many days, interrupted by a couple days of "sofa rest" as my back decided it was anything but happy - much better now though! Here's a shot of just a few of those greens or mostly greens. 

Funny, through the camera these are more blue than green - contrary to how my eyes view them here, and granted these could be in either group since there is teal, and blue. Maybe I'll switch them to the blue bin. I suppose it's a matter of personal choice. That lime green is definitely green though!

I'm cutting mostly into 1.5", 2", 2.5", 3", and 3.5" strips or squares, and anything less is a string or a chunk. Some of the scraps were already triangles so I'm just trimming off all loose threads and storing each fabric with all it's pieces into individual zippered bags before putting them into their respective bins. My bins are nearly full, so I really need to get my quilting mojo back.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

Marty's had a dress shirt hanging on the coat rack in the master bedroom for ages. I don't recall if he ever told me it was missing a button or not. I finally looked at it and realized that was what was needed so thought I'd tend to it. I really dislike mending and sewing on buttons.
There's an empty spot up there next to the pocket.
 I quickly discovered I didn't know where the missing button was. I did a quick glance on his desk and on his dresser and nightstand but didn't see it and suspected it was truly lost. Did you notice the button is rather a lavender-blue color? I looked for the spare button usually sewn inside the seam, uh, not one there, only the much smaller one used in the placket of the sleeve. I was thinking maybe I could steal one from the cuff thinking it wouldn't be noticed but I'm pretty sure he uses the outer button of the two on the cuff, so yes it would be noticeable. 

Then I checked my trays of spare buttons. Nothing in this color, not even close. I could have used a white one, but the position for this button is right on the chest so far too obvious. So I posted on my social media account that first picture up above with the comment that I'd rather buy him a new shirt than remove all the buttons and replace them so that they all matched.
Back side of the missing button.
 When he got home from work, he brought me the missing button! He still had it! I was amazed! It is shown in the above photo, though when I was taking pictures I didn't realize that was the back. When turned over, it does look like the others on the shirt, but my first thought was 'oh great, it had been replaced before' and no I wasn't going to use it. So turning it over made me realize it was the right button.
needles & old blue thread...hope the thread holds up ;)
 Next, I had to see if I had any lavender-blue thread because of course, all the buttons were not sewn on using white. The first spool I pulled out, and the only bluish one in my thread drawer, was too light and bright a blue. Then I remembered I'd brought back a bag of old threads from an aunt a few years ago [yeah, still not dealt with] and there was a duller blue which wasn't too far off, so I used it.

Nick had to thread the needle for me - darned eye was so very tiny and my eyes just weren't getting that thread into it.
Do you notice that the thread is criss-crossed on that button? That is not how I learned to sew on buttons, and it annoys me. I conceded to do it that way because all the other buttons were done that way, again so that it all matched.  So the missing button is back where it belongs, and now the shirt is headed to the laundry before getting a ride back to Marty's closet.

There's also a pair of jeans in need of a patch on the front of the thigh area where Marty caught it on something sharp, probably barbed wire going through someone's fencing on one of his photographing outings. I used an iron-on patch some time ago, but it came off after just a couple washings, so will have to use needle and thread...eventually...or not.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Blog Ads

I know this is slightly off-topic for my quilt/needle-work-only blog, but I'm feeling a bit grumbly this morning so am going to explain what is causing me to grumble, and it has to do with other quilting blogs.

For many, many years I've followed a couple of bloggers, well-known ladies in the quilt world, and at some point, both added/allowed advertising on their blogs. They've given their explanations, and I don't begrudge them at all. Hey, they earn whatever income they can get from their blogs - they're consistent and always interesting and as all of us bloggers (full-time or occasional) know, it takes effort to compose a blog and post pictures.

The issue I have of late is with the ads themselves, or maybe it's how they function within the blog network that does it, I really don't know which. When looking at these blogs and scrolling, there is of course the banner ad that pops up at the top of the page which can be deleted by clicking on the "x", though I've noticed it comes back now after a certain amount of time. Also, the ads that pop up at the bottom of photos. I use to be able to locate a small grayed "x" and delete those too so that I could see the full picture. Not any more! I usually cannot find an "x" at all, or if there is one, I'm not able to click on it to get it to go away. Scrolling away from the image doesn't get rid of it either. I can close the page, return and briefly see the full image before the annoyance returns.

Am I the only one bothered by this? I love these two particular blogs, but sometimes this annoyance factor keeps me from tuning in. Both authors have in the past made posts/remarks about having the ads on their blogs to where I don't want to address it with them.  I wonder too if the revenue made from having ads is really sufficient if it means you start losing your readers whose ad-tolerance level has peaked.
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