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!

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 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!) Watch also for the Bonus Post!

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 Sunday: Winner of the software announced, and more fun things to try with BlockBase+
  • But come back for a Bonus post: Affinity Designer software and BlockBase+ — with the ability to export in SVG, they are a quilty match made in heaven.

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

Leave your comment to win a copy of BlockBase+!

300 Quilts · Giveaway · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Finish · Quilt Patterns

Pomegranates • Giveaway

Where does inspiration begin?

Does it start here? How about both places? Today is a pattern announcement, a quilt top done announcement and the best part: a giveaway!

My friend, Kenna Ogg of Madison Cottage Design, is launching her line of batiks from Banyan Batiks (made by Northcott) and asked me to help her share the pictures and flavors of her line of fabrics. And at the end of the post, be sure to enter to win a fat quarter stack of these beautiful fabrics, rich in the tones of fall and winter.

So when she sent them to me to dream up a quilt, I kept thinking about my friend Karen’s pomegranate tree, and how she was always so generous with the fruit:

Pomegranates come on in the fall and into winter, so the two ideas merged into one.

(Posed under a citrus bush)

I arranged the fabrics, trying to get a feel for the richness of the color, then one night drew up the quilt idea in my Affinity software, and a quilt pattern was on its way!

I drew up a pomegranate shape, adding the bit at the top (the calyx), then traced it onto fusing material, cutting out the center of the circle so the quilt wouldn’t be too stiff. I then cut around the outside and fused it down to a four-patch.

All are on! Now the borders.

It’s a fun way to show off the luscious tones of this line of batiks. I had a hard time photographing them in the night when I was working, so here’s a photo from Kenna:

This is what she’ll send the winner of the giveaway: Twenty Fat Quarters. Yes, you can make the Pomegranates quilt from that. But now you can also score a discount on the pattern, as I’m launching it at the same time. Head over to my pattern shop on PayHip, navigate to the pattern and for a 30% discount on this pattern enter the following code at checkout:

PomegranatesOPQuilt30

There are three places you can enter the giveaway:

The giveaway is now closed.
Congratulations to Esther, who wrote:
“Love the fabric and the pattern! Pomegranates and the pomegranate tree are beautiful. The tree and fruit provide habitat for birds. Maybe this will be the year I plant a tree or two, there are a number of varieties, some with pink arils and lighter rind that I think would make a nice combo with the standards. I think there are many references in the bible and poetry as to their beauty and symbolism, though right now I can’t pull one out of my memory. As far as harvesting the arils, I just “go for it” since I’m only cleaning one at a time. If I was ambitious, I’d make pomegranate jelly. I like to use the arils in a salad of winter greens, with slices of bosc pear and fuyu persimmon and a vinagrette.”

Here, on this blog (I’ll pick a winner on Thursday evening, and email the winner). OR, on my Instagram account. OR on Kenna’s Instagram account. And of course, you’ve figured out by now that if you enter all three places, that’s three times the chances. I will mail your name and address to Kenna and she’ll send them out. Good luck.

Leave me a comment below, telling me what you think is the easiest method to get the arils (the seeds) out of the pomemgranate: get on an old shirt and head out to the picnic table and just go for it, or submerge the fruit in a water bath, letting the arils sink to the bottom while the pith floats to the top. And of course, since I love your stories, any pomegranate story or memory you want to leave me will make me smile.

A red-stained juicy pomegranate smile!

Giveaway · Live-Online Classes · Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Patterns

Criss-Cross Autumn Quilt Top

I’m getting ready to do a live-online presentation and teaching at Glendale Quilt Guild next week, and a deadline always sends my I-should-try-this into overdrive. So while I have the Criss-Cross pattern up online, and I thought I was pretty settled, a little voice in the back of my head said I should try some autumn colors in the largest size block in the pattern.

Okey-dokey. So I pulled a group of red-orange, purple, gold, orange, yellow fabrics and I was cooking along, pretty happy with the choices I’d made, but when I was looking for another darkish to put into what was up on the design wall…

…this fell out of a bin. It was Jennifer Sampou’s Chalk and Charcoal fat quarter stack, purchased some years ago. I used to have it out on a surface, just because I liked the colors so much, but had never opened it. (I’m sure you have never done this.)

So, in a flash, all the previous choices were down from the wall, and I had cut and was arranging all the new choices up there. The last image is adding in the strips.

So here is Criss-Cross Autumn, a 35″ square wall hanging. And since we don’t live in a climate that has a lot of rusts, golds, purples, reds in the tree canopies, but we do live in a climate that at the end of summer has a lot of golds, browns and yellows, my husband and I took a drive out in the countryside to shoot some photographs.

We were out in Hemet, by the golden San Jacinto mountains (shown above). One writer once compared the California hills to a tawny mountain lion. I grew up in the Bay Area, where in autumn, the golden grassy hills are interspersed by giant spreading oaks. What we have mostly now is not native, as I discovered when reading this essay, but like the author, I do love the colors.

Now, what to do with that other almost-quilt? How about I give it away? I’ll send you the almost-quilt (already cut!) and its strips (also, already cut, although I have to tell you that once you get adding and subtracting, you may find yourself adding more). There are also a few extra pieces in there, in case you have a different vision. I will also include a hard copy of this new pattern, with multiples sizes and variations.

Leave me a comment at the end, tell me about what colors are in your landscape around you right now, and how you feel about those colors. I’ll pick a winner using the husband-draw-a-paper-out-of-hat method, and let the winner know by email. Here are some image/photos of Criss-Cross Quilt, done in Christmas fabrics:

I’m looking forward to live-online teaching this quilt at the Glendale Quilt Guild next Saturday!

Criss-Cross Autumn, Quilt Index No. 232

UPDATE: Just thought I’d add this to the post. I finished the quilt a few days later, using a simple straight-line quilting pattern, varying the directions. It will be perfect for hanging up during September, when autumn arrives.

UPDATE: Comments are now closed. Winner will be contacted via email on Monday, August 10, 2020.

P.S. There’s a coupon code for the pattern, good for 25% off Criss-Cross Quilt through the end of August. The code is listed on the PayHip page.

Patterns by Elizabeth of OPQuilt · Quilt Patterns · Totes and Purses

Mini Double-Pocket Bag • aka Mini Sew-Together Bag

Sound the trumpets! Today is finally the day that I’m releasing my pattern for the Mini Double-Pocket Bag. I know the title at the top of the post is long, but hang on to your handbags, because so is this post.

Mini Double-pocket Zipper Bag, number 236 on Quilt Index

You all know that BluPrint/Craftsy has bit the dust, possibly due to the coronavirus, but possibly not. I used to have a slew of patterns on there, but after the purge of Craftsy to BluPrint, they allowed me one. And that one was my more simple attempt to get the dimensions out there for the mini version.

But it’s not been satisfactory to me. I felt I should give you better.
Short version of this story: It’s Time.

It’s time to have a stand-alone pattern for my Mini Double-Pocket Bag, that also has instructions, so you can take this pattern to your retreat that is in the mountains or at the sea shore and STILL be able to make the bag, without relying on the Internet.

This version has two pockets. The yellow Mini Double-Pocket Bag I made has two zippers, that open from opposite ends. The other two bags (red and blue) slide open from the same side. I like to change things up.

I spent more than a few hours making over 64 (full-color!) illustrations to go in this pattern. I didn’t want any of you to get lost along the way. I used three pieces of software: Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Publisher. I recommend them verrrry highly if you are someone who wishes they’d majored in Graphic Design in college and more than once in the last week has mentioned this to their husband. (Yes, you’ll have a learning curve, but there are lots of resources to help you online.) This pattern is ALL MY OWN WORK.

To proof these bags, I sent patterns to Cindy of LiveAColorful Life, and Carol @carolgillen and they both suggested some minor changes; both were happy with the multiple and detailed illustrations. Thank you to both of those amazing ladies!

This is what the pattern looks like over at my pattern shop on PayHip.

I tweaked some measurements, dove deep into the making so I could understand other components, and added a few twists of my own.

And why do we all like to make this thing? I don’t know why, but there are over 500 posts of people making it, even with that old dishrag of a pattern that used to be up on Craftsy.

I think it’s because we can take three of our Anna Maria Horner fabrics, back it and bind it with another two AMH fabrics, and have something to carry our Hexies and sewing and binding and stitching stuff in. And we still have more AMH fabrics left.

Or we can gather up a batch of red and white and blue fabrics, and whip up a cute hostess gift for that non-existent 4th of July party we are going to. (Okay, better keep it for yourself.)

I, myself, have over five different small sewing bags, each geared to the type of project I’m working on. My friend Judy packs her jewelry in it when she used to head out on her international trips. I suppose you could use to when you head to the grocery store, to organize your coupons. I’m sure you’ll think of ways to use your Mini Double-Pocket Bag, and if you need the pattern (of course you do), here’s a little treat:

Until July 14th, the pattern will be sold at a discount of 20% with the code: minidoublepocketbag20 — that’s all lower case, with the number 20 at the end. When you check out over on PayHip, you’ll see a place to put your code.

Welcome the newest addition to our pattern world!

Happy Sewing!

Free Quilt Pattern · Gridsters · Quilt Patterns

Sawtoothmania!

Framed Pattern Cover

Sometimes I get an idea, and it becomes like a dividing cell: one idea becomes into two, then four, and in this case, 23.  Sawtoothmania, the idea I am referring to, began about six months ago I started working on how to create a different sawtooth center.  First I made over 33 different designs, then whittled it down to 26, and then to 23 for this final pattern.

Bee Block Sawtoothmania Bette

I was aiming to have the pattern finished by the time I was Queen Bee in February for the Gridsters Bee, but I wasn’t.  I was far enough along though, to send them each some Painters Palette Solids: blue and white, plus a color to make up the center.  I also asked them to make an accompanying Tiny Envelope block (a free pattern on this blog) as their signature block, using a print that would coordinate with their block.

Sawtoothmania Process_0

This was the original set of colors, along with a little card I sent them so they could choose their block.

Then I kept making, kept testing, putting up blocks on Instagram as I finished them.  Today, the pattern is finished, and is up on my PayHip site, where you can purchase it if you’d like.  Many thanks to my BeeMates for testing these blocks, and for making me such a beautiful array of 12 blocks (I added four to the mix to get this arrangement):

Sawtoothmania Process_1

Then there was Border Angst.

I started with the solid blue border on the left, then tried the right, yes yes that’s the one. Then no no that’s not the one, how about I cut it up?  And then add squares?  And then go back to the solid blue?  And then sash them?  And then too many colors, take some out? And then go to bed, freaking out?

Sawtoothmania Process_front

I ended up here, and called it done.  I actually like it, although I include the plain fabric border option in the pattern, too, just in case you liked that one.  In the end, there were too many colors in the outside border, so I just used cool colors for the squares and smaller sashing to tone it down.  It’s not that noticeable, but it is significant.

Sawtoothmania Process_Gatesawtoothmania Small

I had several blocks I didn’t include, but that they were used as testers, so I made this smaller version, and this one will get the plain print border.

So, there you have it–my Sawtoothmania Pattern!  I had fun designing it and making it and if you decide to get one, I hope you’ll send me pictures of how you decided to make your Sawtoothmania.

I’m sure the length of time from inception to completion was complicated by the onslaught of Covid-19 news and all our living through it.  But since my last post, I’ve tried to get the rhythm of my days, which usually goes a couple of productive days alternating with what I call…

Lowenergy day_covid19

…”a low-energy” day.  Sometimes reading the news will trigger this, or frustration with various current events.  At least now I can predict it a little bit, and work with it.

City Streets Vivid_quilting

Trying to finish up the quilting of the second rendition of my City Streets pattern, this one done in fancy Tula fabrics.Gridsters May 2020

I was able to finish up Rachel’s Bee block for our Gridster Bee: a wagon wheel in the strongest contrasting colors we could use, with a black center.

Sneak Peek Metastructure

And I started and finished my Urban Challenge quilt for the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild.  But this is just a sneak peek, as the due date isn’t until May 25th, and won’t be announced until June 13th, at our Guild’s Zoom Meeting.  Since I run their blog, I have seen some of the entries that have come in, and I’m pretty excited about it all!

Zoom May 10_2020_3

I’ll leave you with this shot from our family Zoom meeting on Mother’s Day, when my son Matthew admitted that he hadn’t gotten a card out to me and shared his screen with us to show this.  It still makes me laugh.

So, between finishing up long-term projects, dodging around the emotions of Covid-19, and receiving Mother’s Day cards via Zoom, it looks like we are all figuring this out.

Happy Quilting!

First Monday Sewday · Quilt Patterns · Quilts · Something to Think About · Tutorial

Economy and Rough Drafts

Economy Block_6

I help teach a group of beginning quilters, and we call ourselves First Monday Sew-day, and yes, I know it’s not the First Monday today, but it’s COVID-19 season and nothing is normal anymore.  For this First Monday Sew-day, I chose to teach the Economy block, also known as the Square-in-a-Square block.

April 2020 First Monday ILLUS.png

I’ve made a little handout to go along with this, which includes a detailed chart of measurements.  Click to download the PDF file:

FirstMondaySewday_4_2020

(NOTE: I’ve also collected all my First Monday Posts and put them in their own page at the top of my blog, just in case you want to find them easily.)

Economy Block_1

I looked at Catbird Quilt Studios’ chart, but then decided I wanted to test out my own measurements.  First I cut some sunny yellow fabric for the centers.

Economy Block_2

I pulled some neutrals from my stash, cut the triangles, then painstakingly went through each measurement, adjusting it to what I thought would work for teaching beginners, then went to work.

Economy Block_2a

After getting the first set of triangles on, I squared it up, jotting down the measurements as I went through each size.

Economy Block_4cEconomy Block_4bEconomy Block_4a

When you trim, do your best to leave a 1/4″ of seam allowance at each point, as shown above.

Economy Block_5

I love this color of blue, known around our house as painting-tape blue.

I’ve already put the triangles on the first two sides and pressed them.  Now I’m starting on the second set, with the finish below:Economy Block_3

Economy Block_7

Here are all the sizes, stacked up together.  I’m thinking bordering the smallest sizes again to equal that large 15″ block in the lower left, and seeing what evolves.

ISpy_ISpyPanel_Bermuda

This is a free pattern from the Robert Kaufman Fabric Company, and it uses the Economy block, but the quiltmaker fussy cut center blocks for more interest.

Into the Woods front

I added one more set of triangles on this economy block to get this quilt. Doing a search on “economy block” yields lots of images to scroll through.

Pinwheel with Economy.jpeg

I liked how this quilt maker had pinwheels inside their Economy blocks.  Our beginners learned how to make pinwheels when they learned about Half-Square Triangles.

tiny nine patches

Making Masks April 2020

And I’m still making masks.  I am making them for people I know, friends and family who need them as our particular county is a mask-wearing place.

Mask Iteration 4.jpg

So when two friends came by and I realized that these masks wouldn’t work for them, I went back to the Accordian-style mask, added a nosewire sleeve and turned the sides into plackets, through which I could slip some elastic.

I’d say this is the fourth or fifth iteration of cloth masks that I’ve made.  I kept wondering why I couldn’t be like all the other mask-makers of our particular universe, and just settle into one kind?  I was heartened by “Tear It Up and Start Again,” an article by Harry Guiness, that reminded me of things I used to teach my college students, back in the day.  I reminded them never to turn in their first draft, as the really good writing starts to happen on the third or fourth rounds (inevitably the class would groan about this point).  Guiness notes that “Too often, when it comes to self-improvement, we create idealized, top-down systems with unnatural rules and regulations. We naïvely assume that we will somehow stick to our rigid plans when life gets random and hard, throwing unavoidable chaos and crises into the mix.”

We’ve all had some unavoidable chaos recently.  While this article dealt more with those self-improvement plans we all make for ourselves (I hope you have all torn yours up during this stay-at-home time), I did like his nuggets of truth, such as this one: “When a plan or resolution fails, the solution isn’t to dismiss it and try a new, equally rigid prescription next year or next time. It’s to build on what worked, ruthlessly cut what didn’t and start straight away on a much-improved second draft.”  I like that I won’t have to discard what I learned in my first draft, but can carry forward the best parts.

“I never lose. I win or learn.” This phrase has been attributed to many, but whoever said it was on to something.  Hopefully we won’t lose during this time of forced idleness (for some), crashing boredom (for some), an onslaught of toomuchtodo (for some).  We can win at our tasks if everything goes smoothly.  However, you can tell by my variety of masks that it doesn’t — usually — go smoothly for me, but we can still learn new things about others, or new things about ourselves.

I’ve learned I like to tinker to figure out which mask will fit which face.  I’ve learned that I can’t read the news before I go to bed at night.  I’ve learned that my current forced isolation and distraction (courtesy of the novel corona virus) is not the best working environment for getting my quilting projects done.

I’ve learned a million new science-y facts about peak dates and doubling rates and flattening the curve and so on (I am married to a scientist), which may or may not come in handy in the Life After COVID-19.  But hopefully I’ve also learned that my first drafts can lead to successful subsequent drafts, no matter whether it’s writing, or quilting, or making masks.

tiny-nine-patches

Last Supper
The Last Supper of Christ, by Jorge Coco

Happy Easter to everyone!