In February 2010 I was asked how I go about designing the virtual quilts I post on Virtual Quilter. I selected some blocks, found some fabric to use in them and created a sampler quilt ……….. then asked if anybody else would like to play with the project file before I posted my first virtual designs in this series.

These are some of my quilts, and there are designs by others on added pages. The initial designs were done in about two weeks in February 2010, others may be added at any time.

I have been asked if it is hard to design the quilts I show on this blog.

The answer is a resounding NO!

The quilt design above is reposted from the early days of Virtual Quilter. One of those designs I don’t know what I would do with if I made it, but cute illustration to use in a post about designing virtual quilts.
The name of the design is ‘A Growing Stash’

I used to play Solitaire or do Jigsaws on the computer ….. they have been pretty much untouched in the last twelve months. Now I play with Electric Quilt 6! It is fun! And quick.

However, looking back at quilts I made before I had a computer program  I was scribbling quilts which look a bit like the quilts I am showing here. So using a computer program to do the drawing makes it quicker, and much better looking, but I am able to explore the possibilities further and quicker than I could even dream about using pencil and paper. I am designing quilts in a style I have used for twenty + years, using a tool I  purchased five + years ago. The transition to computer designing with Electric Quilt was quick because I had already dabbled with two other programs and a high-end drawing program.

Before I bought Electric Quilt 5 I had tried two other quilt programs. I cannot comment on what they are like now as they have improved in the 15 – 20 years since the versions I had were available. Electric Quilt was light years ahead of them when I bought EQ5, but that was over ten years after I got the other two. At the time I

thought one of the programs was designed by a quilter who didn’t fully understand what a computer could do, the other felt like something a computer programmer would put together for a quilter. Electric Quilt felt like it had been put together by a computer programmer who was a quilter, or vise versa.

I used to sometimes show a few squiggles on a piece of paper to people and they would turn away, and who can blame them! They couldn’t see the colours, the fabric prints, they couldn’t even see all the lines of the blocks in many cases, because they were half rubbed out, or they didn’t know which one of five scribbles they were supposed to be looking at. Most of the good looking bits were in my head!

Now, in half an hour I can produce straight seams, points that meet, and filled with fabric in full colour.

Having a computer program has made it much quicker, and so much better to look at!

Sometimes I use all blocks from the Electric Quilt block library, sometimes from my library of original blocks, sometimes I draw up a block which isn’t in the library. Sometimes I mix them up!

If I use blocks from the EQ Library to design a quilt the Electric Quilt Company allow me to publish the pattern, show the quilt, sell the quilt as I wish. If I use my original block designs I can do the same, as I am the copyright owner. If I draw up blocks I have seen elsewhere I may not be able to use it as I wish. If it is an old design and the origins are unknown or out of copyright I can do as I wish with the quilt and the design. However, if I see a block which is still covered by copyright I would have to ask the copyright owner before using the block for anything but a quilt for my own personal use, and before I could share the design here.

(Depending on what a block design going to be used for, I will often give permission for others to use it, but would appreciate acknowledgement each time the block is published or shown.

If the series title hasn’t got EQ in the title the blocks are from my personal library of blocks I have designed since 1984. I haven’t added any of the add-on block libraries available to be used in the program as I have a huge backlog of ideas and scribbled designs and notes to utilize. Sometimes I mix my blocks with EQ blocks, sometimes I draw up traditional blocks I can’t find in the library which I think will fit with the blocks I have already chosen.

Designing the quilts is the same regardless of where the blocks come from, but it can take a lot of time to draw some blocks into Electric Quilt. Others are quick. But with practice it gets easier and quicker.

Pieced are generally quicker than applique, but I enjoy doing applique blocks more, both virtually and in real life.

Any quilt series with EQ in the title uses blocks included in the Electric Quilt Library.  I select a variety of blocks and do a few quick, simple designs, then add fabrics. Sometimes I fiddle with the block designs, tipping a design onto the diagonal, or make it fill the block more, or less. Maybe even add e few extra lines to create an extra block with similar characteristics.

I look for a block, maybe two,  which appear full, rather heavy and solid.

Add something which appears smaller and more dainty.

Now a cross with vertical and horizontal lines

Need some diagonal lines too.

Finally some just because!

Eleven blocks, so lets call the series ‘Elevenses’

I choose fabrics which give the impression I would want in a real quilt. If a design tells me it needs to be made for real I don’t look for the exact fabric I used in the design, but one that will look like it in the quilt.

(If I am designing for a real quilt and have already purchased fabric I don’t bother scanning them to use in the virtual design. I look for fabrics already in the library which give the impression of the fabric I have chosen.)

I don’t use a lot of busy fabrics or muti coloured fabric because they can get in the way of the design, particularly on a computer screen …. you may be able to see past busy fabrics and make out the design of the quilt in real life, but it looks busy, messy and totally uncool on the screen. In general I use similar fabrics in real life anyway, but not as rigidly as I do in the virtual designs. On screen I use very subtle ‘busy’ prints so as not to confuse the design.

So, with the blocks I picked out in mind, I went to the Electric Quilt Fabric Library. I delved into places I hadn’t been for a long time, selected twenty or so, decided against most of them, found a couple of replacements, and coloured the block designs with fabrics.

Mmmm, might do a bit of fiddling when I start playing with the blocks in quilt settings, but I think I am going to like what happens when they get together!

By the way, the last two blocks are redrafted from one I found in the block library, because I wanted to make a slight change and found it wouldn’t work ….. so changed the original to fit the required change.

Then comes play, the fun and exciting part. I am a traditionalist in that I like symmetrical designs ….. usually anyway,  so I place a block in the centre and build a design around it. Then twist and turn some this way, some that way, swap some …… and with each twist, turn and change I save the result as a quilt design. Then change the centre and see if it looks better that way.

When I get sick of playing I can go back through all the designs I have saved and sort them, and delete ones with obvious mistakes, and ones that just don’t work, then mix them up and I have a new series to use on the Virtual Quilter’s Weblog!

The challenge …… now closed, but here are the details if you are interested. Maybe I might do this again. It is great fun getting designs back from other people!

I am looking forward to playing with these, but before I do, would you like to play with me?

I won’t post any virtual designs here until February 28th 2010. If you ask nicely before then I will send you the project file so you can have a go too.

There is a condition …… either blog some of your results, or send me some pictures of your designs if you haven’t got a blog.With appropriate links of course, but I would really just love to see what others would do with these blocks. For that matter, I want to see what I get!

You can change fabric a little or a lot, but not the blocks.

Join me for Elevenses on February 28th, and hopefully a few of you will serve Elevenses over the following few days, or weeks!

I will put my designs, your designs and links to your blogs featuring your designs on their own special page. I will ask for your efforts when I post the first of mine. You can show the blocks in the sampler as they are above, with same or different colours, but no posting of your designs early, but I would love to see a selection in the first week of March. You can keep posting as long as you like, or until you run out of designs.


4 Responses to Elevenses

  1. Pingback: Invitation to Elevenses « Virtual Quilter

  2. Pingback: Elevenses Quilts 20, 21 and 22 « Patchworkmaniac’s Blog

  3. Brenda says:

    Oh my heavens how did you design your wall hanging called A Growing Stash? That is simply wonderful…wow, I play around my eq program and I seriously don’t think I could design that….simply wonderful….
    I also have a question, I received your bookshelf pattern via email for eq, someone else is interested but I can’t seem to find which place on your blog I found it…I’m completely lost…I wanted to direct her to your site to view you patterns…

    Many Many thanks for giving me a place to come and sit and drink my coffee and druel over your work…


    • Brenda,

      Luckily I knew someone had asked for the project file so went looking for the reply email …… so thank you … I would have spent an hour looking for it otherwise!


      Designing a stack of anything is as hard as drawing the first one, saving it, then selecting everything on the block drawing board (Control + A), and copying it onto the clip board.

      Paste it into the block drawing board with the original still there, and move it into position on top of the original. Save block, then paste again ……

      Come back and add fabric or plain colour later.

      Try it with some simple shapes to get the idea.

      Judy B


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