Quilting Partners · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

Let’s Design a Quilt Together — A Peek into My Quilt Design Process

Hello Quilty Friends!

It’s Thursday again! Here’s hoping your week has been going well. Mine has been good and fast — just the way I love my quilt projects to be! LOL!

A lot of people ask about my design process so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about my process. Keep in mind that all designers have their own way of doing things and this post is only about my process.

Sometimes it’s like I eat, sleep, and breathe quilts and quilting! Not only do I read/flip through quilt books and magazines, I also look online for new trends. I talk to my quilt friends about what they are doing. I teach a quilt class once a month. I design patterns, write instructions, make quilts, take photos of quilts. I look at and get inspired by fabric. I jot down ideas and even do rough sketches of quilt blocks (which I promptly lose most of the time). I have even been known to wake up in the middle of the night with a new idea for a quilt. Whew!

Inspiration comes in a lot of different forms for me. Sometimes I see a fabric or collection and an idea pops into my head. Sometimes I start with a favorite quilt block and a quilt develops out of that. I have quite a few quilt block references that I use for ideas. Here are a few books in my library:

The first 2 books are by Barbara Brackman. The one on the left is the first edition of the 2nd book and is out of print and can be hard to find. I have both of them and love them both. The newer edition has even more blocks in it than the first edition! Barbara Brackman is one of the most renowned quilt historians of our time! You can visit her blog, Material Culture, HERE.

I also have Barbara Brackman’s software program, Blockbase, which works with Electric Quilt. You can find Blockbase HERE.

The third book, 5500 Quilt Block Designs, is by well-known quilter and author Maggie Malone. I have only known about this book since 2021 when a friend of mine showed it to me and I was so impressed, I had to grab a copy for myself. This book is out of print so it can be harder to find as well.

I have talked about Electric Quilt software before in an earlier post, but I want to mention it again here because I really couldn’t design quilts without it! Some designers sit down with a ruler and graph paper to draft quilt patterns, but I am an Electric Quilt user because it makes designing quilts a lot easier for me. You can find Electric Quilt 8 (EQ8) software HERE.

If you are interested in designing your own quilts, I totally recommend EQ8 if you’re into computers. If you’re not into computers, graph paper and a ruler might be your new BFF.

Once I get an idea, it’s time to play — which usually means I head to my computer and EQ8. I play with blocks, try different color combinations, download different fabrics to try all before I actually make anything at all. Some designers start by making the project and then work backwards to create the pattern and instructions. I do my designing on my computer and then make the project once I know what I am going to do. At least this is what I do probably 99% of the time. That’s one of the fun things about being a designer — I can try different ways of doing things. They don’t always work out for me, but that’s okay, there’s always another way to try.

Let me show you an example of my design process. For this example, I’m gong to start with my favorite quilt block, the Shoo Fly block.

When I am starting with the quilt design before I select the actual fabrics, I usually design in red, black, white, and grey. I don’t know exactly why I do that, but I think it probably has to do with the high contrast so I get a good sense of the pattern before I add actual fabric.

So, let’s make a wall quilt using 4 Shoo Fly blocks. It will look something like this:

Hmmmmm. This doesn’t really excite me. How about you? Let’s tweak it a little bit and see what happens next. We’ll add a bit more color, too.

Okay, this is better, don’t you think? By adding a sashing between the blocks, I was able to put another Shoo Fly block in the center. I changed the colors of the larger blocks to black and grey with the smaller center Shoo Fly block in red. It definitely has a lot more interest, doesn’t it? But it’s not quite there. Let’s tweak it a little bit more, shall we?

Now we’re getting somewhere! I got rid of the grey and went with plain black. Then I added 2 narrow blocky borders so I could continue to build out with more Shoo Fly blocks. Now I think we need a border.

Yay! A finished quilt design. I added an outer plain black border and a red binding. Pretty zippy, isn’t it? Now we’re gong to add some real fabric to the design.

Here are 3 different versions of our Shoo Fly quilt using Hoffman’s Paisley in Love batik collection. Of the 3, I think the last one with the white background is my favorite. I like the contrast, but I think I need to do a little more tweaking with the design, so back to the drawing board (or EQ8).

What are your thoughts? How would you improve this design? Any ideas?

Well, I hope you enjoyed a peek into my design process. Who knows? You might see this design as a VRD Rose Card some day.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Quilt As Desired · Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

NEW June VRD Rose Card Patterns and A Free Motion Quilting Demo

Hello Quilty Friends!

Welcome to another Thursday — the first Thursday in June. Summertime, right? The kids are out of school or will be soon. Life will get crazy. Fun. And more crazy.

Are you kidding? I thought it was still March.

At least, it should still be March, don’t you think?

Que sera, sera.

OH! Did you see the new Rose Cards for June yet???? As always, our VRD designers didn’t let you down.

You can order all 5 cards HERE.

And here is June’s NEW Table Runner, Cake Day. Cute, huh?

You can purchase the Cake Day pattern HERE.

Did you know you can actually join the Rose Card Pattern Club and get the new monthly Rose Cards delivered right to your mailbox every month without you having to do a thing????

If you live out of the USA, you can sign up for the digital Rose Cards, which will be delivered to your inbox without you having to do a single thing.

There are even several different Pattern Club options to consider. Cool, huh?

You can sign up for the Pattern Clubs HERE .

Another really AWESOME thing about Villa Rosa is that we create a lot of kits using our Rose Card patterns. You can find kits for this month’s new patterns AND you can find kits for lots of other favorites, too. You can visit the website HERE to see what our selection of kits are. Please remember that we add new kits all the time, with all kinds of different fabric, so make sure you stop in often to see what’s new.

A Little Bit of Free Motion Quilting and a Video Demo

How many of you are a little bit afraid of free motion quilting on your own domestic sewing machine?

Be honest!

Okay, that’s better, I see a lot of hands raised and heads nodding out there.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be afraid anymore. I’ve been teaching free motion quilting (FMQ) for more than 10 years and I haven’t lost anyone yet!

Here’s my TOP 12 TIPS for FMQ:

1. Find a teacher at your local quilt shop to show you how and to guide you so you feel safe. Don’t try to teach yourself by using YouTube videos.

2. Start out small — the smaller the project the better for beginners. Potholders, table runners, place mats, wall quilts, or other small projects.

3. Start with a beginner-friendly design like wavy lines or loops. Meandering and stippling are NOT beginner-friendly.

4. Try to relax. The more tense you are, the worse your quilting will be.

5. Play music while you quilt, something with a beat. A beat will help you find your rhythm for FMQ on your own machine.

6. Keep practicing, every day if you can, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel, and the better your quilting will get.

7. Practice machine quilting with a friend. You can encourage each other and laugh together.

8. Try machine quilting gloves. There are a lot of different types of gloves out there, so you might have to try different kinds to find the ones that work for you. Machine quilting gloves will help you get a good grip on the fabric so you can move the quilt more easily when you are quilting.

9. Doodle. Doodle a lot. Practice drawing the designs before you quilt them — this builds some muscle memory between your hands and you brain.

10. Practice…….practice……..practice…….

11. Practice……practice…..practice……. (I can’t stress this one enough)

12. HAVE FUN!

Here’s a little video I put together demonstrating how to free motion quilt wiggly lines on last week’s Ying Yang Cats. Enjoy!

Sorry, but the video was too large to paste onto the blog so I had to upload it to YouTube and provide the link below.

Free Motion Wiggly Lines Demo

I hope this video inspires you to try free motion quilting some wiggly lines on your own little project.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD

Rose Cards · Tips and Tricks · Tutorials · villa rosa designs

Cats and a VRD Cat City Block Tutorial + a Mini Quilt

Hello Quilty Friends!

Sigh……I’ve been thinking about cats lately. A lot. In addition to my own cats, I’ve been working on a couple cat quilt projects. If you don’t like cats, you might want to turn around now before it’s too late. (You can’t see me of course, but I’m rolling my eyes here. LOL!)

Let me tell you a little bit about MY CATS (sorry, not sorry — I did warn you).

Pip is my beautiful 12 year old silver tortie. She is sweet, rarely says a word, and is very generously-sized. Pip is a real foodie like me. I tell her frequently that she’s “practically perfect in every way,” but she can be very stubborn. And sneaky! Especially when she thinks no one is paying attention and she tries to get her little brother’s food (she is usually successful, too). Silly Pip!

Practically-perfect Pip!

Griffin just turned 1 at the end of April and is my little wild child. He zooms from one end of the house to the other and then back again. Over and over. As energetic as he is, he’s also my snuggle bug when he eventually slows down. Seriously. He loves to be held and snuggled! Griffin likes to watch “bird TV,” loves to be rocked, likes music, and even enjoys painting on a cute game on my tablet. He’s quite a fella!

Crazy man Griffin in a brief moment of stillness.

For some reason, cats and quilting just seem to go together. Like peanut butter and jelly! I just love seeing photos of cats “helping” their human quilters on social media, don’t you? Too bad neither of my cats are into that, but then again, if they were, I’d probably never get any quilting done.

In fact, as I sit here writing, Pip is hanging out in her favorite chair upstairs and Griffin is watching his birds on TV about 10 feet away from my desk. He is not only my little buddy but he’s also THE best coworker I’ve ever had.

Not long ago, Pat, our “Rose Queen” and the owner of Villa Rosa Designs, asked me to help her with some new quilt diagrams for her VRD pattern, Cat City.

To purchase the Cat City Pattern, click HERE Or to purchase the Cat City kit, click HERE

I was really intrigued by the cat block in the pattern, and thought I’d try it out before making the diagrams so I knew exactly how to put the block together. I discovered it’s a really fun block, but it can be a little tricky the first time you make it.

Let me show you how to put the Cat City block together.

Cat City Block Tutorial

First things first, follow the cutting instructions for the pattern. I chose a white fabric and a black fabric for this tutorial (you’ll see why a little bit later). I layered the two fabrics and cut the pieces out at the same time.

Layer your background and cat fabrics as you see here. I am making 2 cats at the same time and they will be a mirror image of each other. I used a pin to help hold things together on my way to my sewing machine. I also drew a sewing line with my marking pen (I LOVE Frixion pens for marking sewing lines on my fabric). Now off to my machine to sew on the line.

Next, trim off the waste triangles and press the unit open. I pressed my seams to the dark fabric.

Now to make some little ears! Layer your squares right sides together (RST) on the background fabric. Draw diagonal sewing lines on your squares with your marking tool. Sew on the line. Then cut away the waste triangles and press the units open. I pressed the seams towards the cat fabric.

Okay, we’re in the home stretch now. Yippee! Sew the ear unit to the top of the cat body — the ear fabric should match the cat (unless you’re feeling wild and crazy) and then sew the bottom of the ears to the cat body.

OOPS! You will see in the second photo, my cat ears didn’t line up very well with my cat body. Argh! No, it’s okay after all — the one edge of the cat fabric was folded under — whew, I was afraid my cat was growing right before my eyes!

Darn, time to use the tool all quilters and sewists run from in fear — THE SEAM RIPPER. (Cue creepy music.)

Done. It only took me a quick minute to rip out the seam, press the folded-under edge straight, and resew. Now we’re back in business. I pressed the seam towards the cat body.

In the first photo here, you can see how my cats will look after I sew the cat backs to the cat body/ear unit. I am planning to sew my cats front sides together. Ying and Yang, I think I will call them.

The middle photo shows the cats stitched together …….furever (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

The third photo shows how I pressed the seams — center seam between the cats open because of sewing the fiddly little ears together and the cat body/back seam I pressed towards the cat body. The ears wanted to be a bit difficult but I pressed them into submission with a little pressing spray (my favorite is Mary Ellen’s Best Press).

There you have it — a cat block with mirror-image cats. Of course, instead of sewing them fronts together, you might want to sew them with their backs together — would this be a cat fight???? — take a look at the quilt on the front of the Cat City pattern above for ideas.

BUT WAIT — there’s more! I just love saying that, don’t you?

I decided to cut 2″ strips for a border around my cat blocks for a fast to finish little quilt. I sewed the sides on first and then the top and bottom strips.

Voila! A little quilt, mini quilt, doll quilt, table quilt, place mat or whatever you want to call it.

Now I just need to layer my little quilt with batting and backing. Quilt it. Bind it.

DONE! My favorite kind of project. 🙂

Here is my black and white Ying and Yang alongside my first little Cat City quilt in pink and brown. When I finished the pink and brown one (which was my original example to figure out how the block went together), I decided that I had to make a black and white one.

I hope you will enjoy making your own Cat City quilt. Or maybe you just want to play a little bit and make yours mini. Whatever you choose, I can’t wait to see your cat quilts (and maybe your cats)!

You can share them on our Facebook page. Not a member yet? Join us to take part in all the Villa Rosa Designs fun HERE . We really are a fun bunch. Really.

Until next Thursday —

Sew. Laugh. Repeat.

Always,

Tricia @VRD