The move to Ireland has gone really well and I’ve been very busy making the house into a home. There hasn’t been much time for craft, but I made sure to complete one particular project, which is the topic for today’s post.
You may have read about the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop in July. Cloud9 Fabrics challenged the participants to design an original block based on the colors of the 2016 blog hop button, which was designed by Beth from Plaid and Paisley. The finished blocks will be combined to create a 2016 blog hop sampler quilt.
Cloud9 supplied the fabric to everyone who was interested in joining in. It’s an organic fabric line, so I’m really excited to be participating.
Today, I want to walk you through my process so you can see how I go about designing a quilt block. In the end, you’ll not only be able to replicate my block, which I hope you do, but maybe also get some inspiration for an approach to creating your own designs.
I always begin my design process in Illustrator. I know there are many designers who prefer the paper and pencil approach, but for me, being able to perfectly align and duplicate elements fits my process best. If you aren’t familiar with Illustrator and you’re interested in designing, I strongly recommend looking into it. It may seem daunting at first, but once you get the basics down all the possibilities will quickly unfold. I used Lynda.com to learn how to use the software.
After opening Illustrator [Image 1] and selecting “New”, I input the dimensions of the artboard [Image 2]. Think of the artboard as the canvas. I know that my finished block has to measure 12″ X 12″ so I created an artboard that was a 12″ square with a 1/4″ bleed [Image 3]. Bleed is used to create a print file with the color running right up to the edge of the paper. No printer can print right up to the edge, so it’s normal to print past the edge and then trim back. I used the bleed here simply to remind myself about the outside seam allowance.
Once I had my new document, I needed to tell Illustrator which colors I wanted to use. The color palette provided by Cloud9 did not include the hex codes or RGB values, but that wasn’t a problem. I simply downloaded the image of the palette, placed it into my document (File > Place…) and then used the Eyedropper tool to sample each color, one at a time. After each sampling, simply drag the swatch to the library [Image 4].
Once I had my five colors, I deleted the placed image and started to design. I did six or seven designs, then narrowed it down to one that takes advantage of the light and dark aspects of the teal and the mauve to create an illusion of stacked semi-transparent squares [Image 5]. I created my shapes with the rectangle tool. By selecting the tool and clicking within the artboard a prompt will pop-up. This will allow you to input specific sizes, such as 1.5″ X 1.5″ or 1.5″ X 3″.
Once I had my design finalized, it was time to calculate the size and quantity of the pieces I needed to cut. I did this directly in Illustrator by creating a new layer and using the brush tool to count the number of blocks for each color and size. I then switched over to InDesign, created an A4 document and transferred the information.
My 12″ block contains 8 columns and 8 rows [Image 6]. Those rows and columns are made up of squares and rectangles. 12/8=1.5, so the finished dimensions of my squares is 1.5″ X 1.5″. If we add the seam allowances for all four sides that comes to 2″ X 2″. For the rectangles, we can treat them as two squares minus the center seam. That makes them 1.5″ X 3″ finished and 2″ X 3.5″ including the seam allowances. Of course, we always cut including the seam allowances. With this information in mind I can construct a matrix in my InDesign document as shown [Image 7]. You can download the cut sheet for this block here.
I always start by cutting off the selvage of the fabric so I can use that cut as my starting point. This helps to ensure that your cuts will be on grain and that your starting line is straight. I usually only take about 1/4″ off past any fringe that might be on the selvage.
Once all of my pieces were cut, I laid them out to make sure I wasn’t missing any [Image 17 ]. I then worked my way across, left to right, top to bottom, chain piecing pairs together [Images 18, 19 & 20]. The horizontal rows of my block can be thought of as double rows (those with vertical rectangles on the ends), and single rows (those without). The pattern is: double, single, double, single, double. Next, the pairs were sewn to pairs and so on until I had either an entire single row or could add the rectangles to complete the double rows [Image 21 & 22]. Rows were then sewn to neighboring rows in the usual fashion until the block was completed [Image 24]. As is customary, I used a 1/4″ seam.
One very important element is pressing the seam allowances. I used the same Illustrator paint brush technique that I used to count my pieces to work out which way each seam needed to be pressed so that they nuzzled adjoining seams optimally [Images 25, 26 & 27]. I press in a three-step process. First I set my seams [Image 28] by setting the iron directly on the seam for 8 seconds. This an arbitrary amount of time, I just count to 8 and it seems to work well. It’s important that the iron is not moved, just pressed down. Second, I open the seam in the appropriate direction after double checking my seam pressing diagram and run the hot edge of the iron right up against the seam line [Image 29]. This is done lightly and without distorting the straight line of the seam. Lastly, I ‘hop’ the iron over the bump created by the fabric being folded over the seam and press [Image 30]. Again, being careful not to distort the straightness of the seam the iron is not moved back and forth, but simply left to press. This makes a huge difference in the accuracy of the work [Image 31].
And that’s it! I really enjoyed the experience of designing a quilt block, and working with the Cloud9 organic fabric was great. I hope you decide to try to make my block, and if you do, please post your results in the comments section below. And if you really love the block, here’s what it would look like as a 4′ X 6′ quilt top:
The other participants can be found below:
Abigail @Cut & Alter
Janice @Color, Creating, and Quilting!
Lorinda @Laurel, Poppy, and Pine
Melva @Melva Loves Scraps
Renee @Quilts of a Feather
Kathryn @Upitis Quilts
Kim @Leland Ave Studios
Amanda @this mom quilts
Holly @Lighthouse Lane Designs
Irene @Patchwork and Pastry
Jennifer @Dizzy Quilter
Karen @Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Anne @Said With Love
Suzy @Adventurous Applique and Quilting
Sharla @Thistle Thicket Studio
Kathleen @Smiles From Kate
Amanda @Gypsy Moon Quilt Co.
Sarah @Sarah Goer Quilts
Chelsea @Patch the Giraffe
Jinger @Trials of a Newbie Quilter
Anja @Anja Quilts
Daisy @Ants to Sugar
Miranda @I Have Purple Hair
Jennifer @The Inquiring Quilter
Sarah @123 Quilt
Leanne @Devoted Quilter
Jen @Patterns By Jen
Jennifer @RV Quilting
Sharon @Yellow Cat Quilt Designs
Jen @A Dream and A Stitch
Jen @Faith and Fabric
Carole @Carole Lyles Shaw
Stephanie @Quilt’n Party
Susan @Sevenoaks Street Quilts
Katrin @Now What Puppilalla
Amista @Hilltop Custom Designs
Nicole @Handwrought Quilts
Marla @Penny Lane Quilts
Silvia @A Stranger View
Sarah @Smiles Too Loudly
Carrie @the zen quilter
Mary @Quilting is in My Blood
Not permalinked yet:
Kathy @Kathys Kwilts and More
Paige @Quilted Blooms
Mary @Strip Quilts Pass it On
Allison @Woodberry Way
Olusola @Alice Samuel’s Quilt Co.
Ann @Brown Paws Quilting
Jodie @Persimmon + Pear
Vicki @Orchid Owl Quilts
Kitty @Night Quilter
Shelley @The Carpenter’s Daughter who Quilts
Jayne @Twiggy and Opal
Geraldine @Living Water Quilter
Shannon @Shannon Fraser Designs
Lisa @Sunlight In Winter Quilts
Jessica @Quilty Habit
Cassandra @The (not so) Dramatic Life
Deanna @Stitches Quilting
Denise @Craft Traditions
Show me your blocks! Either your version of this design or your own design.