Cloud9 Quilter’s Blog Hop Block 2016

Cloud9 Quilter’s Blog Hop Block 2016

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.

Design

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.

Note: I am using a Mac - your Illustrator start page may look different.
Image 1: Note: I am using a Mac; your Illustrator start page may look different.
If the dimensions for the document are not in inches, don't worry, you can enter the value followed by the " sign and Illustrator will convert the measurement for you.
Image 2: You can change the units for the document measurements with the option just to the right of the width and height fields, or you can enter the value followed by the inch sign (“). Illustrator will convert the measurement for you.
Image 3: Your new document should look something like this.

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].

Image 4: Drag the newly created swatch to the library below.
Image 4: Drag the newly created swatch to the library.

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″.

Image 5: My final design in Illustrator.
Image 5: My final design in Illustrator.

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.

Image 6:
Image 6: It’s easy to see that my block consists of two sizes of pieces, squares and rectangles.
Image 7:
Image 7: Once we know the colors, sizes, and quantities of each piece we can start cutting.

Cutting

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.

Sewing

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.

Pressing

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:

Full quilt

The 2016 New Quilters’ Blog Hop and the Cloud9 Challenge were organized by Yvonne from Quilting JetGirl, Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs, and Stephanie at Late Night Quilter.

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
Amanda @Quiltologie
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
Velda @GRANNYcanQUILT

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
Francine @Mochawildchild
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. 

31 thoughts on “Cloud9 Quilter’s Blog Hop Block 2016

  1. Great block and tutorial, the instructions are very detailed and clear.

  2. spierssusan52@gmail.com

    Very different-and so many combination possibilities-very nice! Thank you, Susan

  3. I really enjoyed reading about your process in Illustrator. Your block looks great and I like that you included which way to press the seams. So helpful!

  4. I love the transparency play of this block! Thanks for sharing your process too 🙂

  5. I really like the way your block reads in a larger quilt, Seven. Thank you so much for participating in the hop and giving such a nice detailed description about your design process.

  6. I love you your tutorial so much and your block is beautiful. After this process I think I really need to spend some time learning to use illustrator. All your step by step photos well done and I have to try your pressing tips.

  7. I love your block and all the energy it evokes. GREAT job on the block and the tutorial. Thank you!

  8. Your block looks great! I especially love the way some interesting things happen when you tile multiple blocks together. Thanks for sharing your process. I really enjoy seeing how different people approach the design process.

  9. How pixalated =) This is a fun block that makes a wonderfully modern repeat. Congratulations.

  10. Lisa

    Hi Seven: This is a great block I love the way the colours give it movement. Thanks for your explanation of the design process. I’m bookmarking the page so I can come back when I have more time. Computer design is a pretty daunting process from my perspective. I may get there eventually.

  11. Wow! This is a gorgeous block and I love the way it looks in a quilt layout. Amazing job!

  12. Lori Smanski

    wow this is wonderful. thanks for sharing your process

  13. Melva Nolan

    Very appealing block. The colors are well balanced and I really like the secondary pattern that appeats when placed together.

  14. I love the way your block looks in the quilt. It is fabulous!

  15. Thanks for the tip about illustrator. I plan to give it a try.

  16. Thanks for giving some tips on how to use Illustrator…. I really should sit and learn one day!

  17. The block is gorgeous Seven! But Illustrator is looking so complicated … I really prefer the paper and crayon method. Thank you for that really detailed tutorial and all the hints (like the spider – which I alway call dog 🙂 )

  18. Great block design – love the transparencies is shows up. Thanks you so much for showing you design process. I had real trouble with the computer part of my go so will take a look at Illustrator now.

  19. Love, love, love this block! And it comes together for an awesome effect in the quilt top!

  20. Beautiful block and your tutorial is fantastic! Thanks for sharing your Illustrator process! 🙂

  21. Rosemary

    Your block looks very “digital”. These Cloud 9 colors are gorgeous together and the individual blocks are awesome. Can’t wait to see the finished quilt!

  22. Love it! Well done!

  23. You created an interesting block. I like it. Thanks for including detailed pressing instructions!

  24. Very interesting block! I loved learning more about your design process. The block looks wonderful in a quilt. I hope you are getting settled now in your new home.

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