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.