BlockBase+ · Quilt Patterns

A Week of Creativity using BlockBase+ • Giveaway!

Sunny Flowers • quilt no. 246 • 54″ square

This is BlockBase+ week, and in one week, I’ll be giving away a free copy of the software!

UPDATE: Giveaway is Closed. Thanks to all who entered!

What is BlockBase+ ? It is new software from The Electric Quilt Company that will become your new best friend for creating quilts. It works on Macs and PCs and is a good companion to The Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, if you have that book.

I’m writing four posts, total: the first two posts will be about how I used BlockBase+ to create my Sunny Flowers Medallion Quilt. Today’s is about the selection process and introduction to the features of BlockBase+. On the next post, I’ll give you my formula for making your first Medallion quilt, using blocks in BlockBase+ and showing how I finished out my Sunny Flowers quilt. And then about one week from now, in the last post about this software, I’ll have an entirely new idea for you, showing ways to adapt the blocks you find, making them your own through the software’s ability to make any block any size, in a snap. (I’m telling you, I really like this software!)

Center Block of a Medallion Quilt, and How to use BlockBase +

Many of you have seen this quilt in process on my social media and here, on my website. On this post I go through my process of how I used BlockBase+ from start to finish. If you have more questions on how it works, there is also a database on the EQ website, too.

I started my Sunny Flowers Quilt as a sample to show you how you could use BB+ (my shortcut name for the program). I started by having a great time going through different blocks. I knew I wanted something that was sort of vintage, but that would make a great centerpiece. I picked the Sunflowers Block; it looks like this on my BlockBase+ screen:

I have it selected, so there is a dark square around it. See the little heart in the lower right corner of that block? You can also tag your favorites, so if you find something you really love, you won’t have to search for it again. The Brackman ID number is 773.6 (all blocks have a Brackman ID number).

By clicking on the Published Names, you can see the source and information about the block. (Hooray for quilt history!!) This block hails from the beginning of the 20th century, and is not one I’ve seen before.

Right now, I’d like to take a look at the one next to it, titled Three-Flowered Sunflower.

By clicking on the different icons in the Colorway area, I can have the block fully colored, shown in shades, or just in lines. As a newbie working this program during its Beta period, I wish I’d known better how to use these to enable me to see the structure of a block. Although neither of these blocks are the easiest, this second one has easier construction, which is shown by looking at the Line Drawing.

I tried out their quilt layout, just to see the block in different variations (there are seven different ideas to look at), but then decided to export it as an SVG (or Scalable Vector Graphic) into my Affinity Design Software, to see how it would look.

There are three ways to export it (JPG or SVG or PNG). Here’s the first rendition:

I had thought I would just make it a simple series of sunflowers, and put an uncomplicated small border around it and call it done. I know those of you who know me are laughing hilariously right now as I’m not very good at simple and uncomplicated, but I keep trying.

Here it is, all sewn. In my sample, I stitched one flower using EPP, and the other three flowers, I used Templates, sewn on the sewing machine. Just keep your wits about you, or choose another block–there are many more that can serve as centers.

Here’s a potential center for a Fall/Autumn Medallion (I added the center circle). The Brackman ID Number is 1740, but you can also search by name: Maple Leaf. If you are an Electric Quilt 8 user, all these blocks are available to use in that program, so you can build your quilts that way, too.

Printing Out your Pattern

Whichever block you chose, and however you choose to make it (Block, Foundation Pattern, Templates or Rotary Cutting Chart), re-size it to 14″ so the center will finish at 28″ square. We’ll use that measurement to build out our medallion quilt. (More on how to use BlockBase+ to do that will be in the next post. Being able to re-size my blocks made the whole process soooo much easier.)

After clicking on your block, go to Print Template. This window pops up. In the red circle, click on the radio button to select Custom Block Size and type in 14″ in both boxes.

In the aqua circle you have Printing Options. I usually use “Print unique templates only” if I’m going to be pinning and cutting out, but for just for fun, I chose “all templates” this time.

This screen pops up. Whoa! Look at all those pieces broken across two pages.

NEVER FEAR! We can fix this by clicking on a template and dragging it around where we want it.

You can also click on the piece to reveal a little green “handle” of sorts that can be rotated in case you want to re-align pieces to nest together more closely together (the above image was blown up by using the plus sign in the upper right of the screen).

I reduced my original 14 pages of printing to nine. As you move things around, the border on that particular page changes to light blue, so you can keep your pieces within the printing area of your page. That long green stem still breaks across two pages, but in the original it was breaking across three, so I consider this an improvement.

I kept tweaking and got it down to 8 pages. (Pin a ribbon on me!)

So, have any questions? Are you curious about things? Keep reading in this series to get the knack of this, and leave me questions if you have them.

  • Next post on Wednesday: Building a Medallion, using BlockBase+
  • Final BB+ post on Saturday: Winner of the software announced, and more fun things to try with BlockBase+

Are you someone who has only drawn out your patterns with pencil and graph paper? Have you worn an eraser down to nothing, changing lines and shapes? Have you always wanted to create your own designs?

To enter the giveaway, please leave me a comment below telling me how you might use BlockBase+ (and how it might help you bring to life those ideas you’ve thought up all during covid).

Yes, this giveaway will run on Instagram, too, so you can enter there for more chances to win. A n d . . . there is another post where you can enter — we’ll see you on Wednesday!

Italy’s sunflowers

Contest Closed now. Thanks for entering the Giveaway!!

45 thoughts on “A Week of Creativity using BlockBase+ • Giveaway!

  1. It looks like a great program. I have the old blockade program and really like it.

  2. I haved never used a program, only as you say the paper & pencil route! This would open up a whole new world of possibilities! I do like that sunflower…….

  3. Love my new Barbara Brackman book, and this adds the ability to use the block in an infinite number of ways…. WOW!

  4. I’ve only used graph paper and pencil. And tape, to tape several sheets of paper together. But wow your description of bb+ is so clear, I think I could learn to use it! I love medallion quilts, and it would be very helpful to try out borders, and maybe even helping with the math to get them to fit!!

  5. I enjoy using EQ software, and I have the new Encyclopedia of blocks, but not the BlockBase software. I would love to add it to my design arsenal!

  6. I have a lot of ideas for quilts but have trouble figuring out the design, block size and layout. I would love to use this software to bring those ideas to life!

  7. Thanks for this very informative tutorial. I love the idea of creating new patterns by combining traditional blocks. For me, I would like to see how something in my mind actually looks on paper before tackling it on fabric. Definitely would help with knowing what size to cut each piece.

  8. I am another who has never used quilt software even though it intrigues me so much. Technology is not my strong point but I am better than I used to be. Thanks for the clear post, it looks like maybe even I could figure it out. 😉

  9. I can see real advantages to having BB+ For making templates, for EPP, even Applique. I love Barbara Brackman’s encyclopedia, and adding the software would be a real boon. I appreciate your taking the time to guide us through the process you used for your Sunflowers. Thanks for the opportunity, Elizabeth!

  10. I really like the finished piece. That outer border fabric is fabulous with the variations. You are so good with the computer programs and explain it well.

  11. I had a copy of the old Block Base years ago and used it over and over. I actually liked it better than the original EQ, which I also had. Then I switched computers, and those versions no longer fit. Honestly, it was the Block Base I missed. I have never inquired about getting a newer version, but am ready to do so. Thanks for your blog about this !

  12. I’d love a chance to win this! I have a very old EQ that doesn’t allow me all the possibilities this version would…like triangle blocks!

  13. I haven’t ventured into design and patterns yet but would love to win this software. I’m ready to take my next step and a new challenge in quilting!

  14. Wow! That is stunning & BB+ looks like SUCH a great help! Looks like I NEED another program. 😊
    I also have loved seeing the progression of your quilt. Now to have the design aspect of the quilt story is fascinating.

  15. I would love to design with BB+ because I do use paper and graph paper. Ideas pop up and it would be helpful to find something similar with BB+ and have the work done for you. Looking forward to more post on BB+.

  16. I used to use the old Block Base, but couldn’t put it on my new laptop. I am really excited to learn how to use the new program and really appreciate your little tutorial here. I can’t wait to dig in!

  17. I have Barbara Brackman’s original book, which I reference often. But, I’ve n3ver had a design program like BB, I would love that! Thank you for the opportunity Elizabeth to open up my design wall with endless possibilities!

  18. This is probably one of the best explanations of quilt software I’ve read! Great job! I’d use it to design so many quilts. I keep a sketch book filled with ideas and most haven’t been worked/designed out. I’d like to design one that would work for adding yo-yo’s

  19. Thank you. I love what you made and the use of beautiful bold colors. I bought the book and have been debating about buying BB+

  20. I have played around with an old version of EQ on a Windows machine years ago, but usually it’s graph paper and pencils! This would make block design much easier AND work on my MacBook 😎.

  21. I really love your Sunny Flowers quilt. I have quilted for many years, but have only designed 1 original quilt. I’d really like to get more adventurous and come up with my own designs. This software looks fun to work with. Thanks for the chance to win!

  22. You have captured my attention. I don’t have Illustrator on my new computer so this would be an interesting possibility moving forward for design work. Thanks for sharing the process and program with us.

  23. I only trace around shapes, and use simple blocks to design, very old school indeed. And yet I am married to an IT professional. He is my help desk, and despairs of my slow uptake of technology. This programme looks fascinating, though a touch overwhelming. Maybe I can persuade my hubby to take up quilting?

  24. I would use BlockBase+ to make designs for miniature quilts that I love to make!

  25. I would love to add Block Base to EQ. I love being able to try out different fabrics and block arrangements without actually sewing them.

  26. Love your quilt – so cheerful and so helpful to see how you did it! I would love to try Block Base to make my own block arrangements (rather than the ole graph paper and pencil!)

  27. Oh, my goodness, these posts are going to be invaluable. Please don’t include me in your giveaway because I’ve already purchased the computer program but I’ve felt too intimidated to try it properly. I’m certainly no designer! And I think I now need the Electric 8 program too! 😬 Your quilt is gorgeous Elizabeth! I love the ombré outer border! All that colour…..!

  28. So many quilt patterns running through my mind that I just can’t put on paper. This would be amazing. Not just Medallion quilts but all sorts of ideas for linking blocks together.

  29. Like so many others I use pencil and paper to design my quilts. I love the idea of being able to design quicker using a program and having this incredible library of blocks would be an amazing tool once you got over the fear of learning a new program. You make it look so easy 😉

  30. That last border on your medallion quilt is a stunner, and I never would have selected it! Just goes to show…
    I would use BB+ to find blocks to modify, since I rarely actually follow a pattern. I use EQ8, and find it fairly easy (OK, after years of use), so I think BB+ would work for me, too.

  31. I have a copy of the book & still graph out my quilt patterns manually. This program sounds like a real treat for this old quilting dinosaur!

  32. Beautiful quilt! The software looks amazing. I like that it generates your templates. I am wondering if it could be used for paper piecing as well.

  33. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of Block Base and a chance to win. I have to admit that I am a paper and pencil sketcher and drafter, so I really need to think about upping my game.
    looking forward to all the posts and thanks!

  34. Love, love, love Willyne Hammerstein’s Millifiori Quilts and just completed one from her La Tarantella pattern (thanks, CoVid!) Throughout the construction process I was thinking “How did she DO this?”
    At first glance the pattern looks like randomly connected rosettes, but once you get into it, there is a deep, almost fractal structure to the pattern. Your blog on BB+ gave me the first inklings of how such a design might be created. Gotta try it for myself!

  35. The e only quilt software I have tried to use is Quilt Wizard for paper piecing. I would love to try out BlockBase.

  36. I am such a pencil-and-graph paper designer. This would be a huge help with my math, I’m sure, as well as helping me keep myself organized–I often find paper stuck into books and think, “Oh, yes! I remember being so excited about that!”

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