Welcome to Design Wall Tuesday! It’s been busy in our Golden, Colorado offices—some of us attended Quilt Market in Houston and left the rest holding down the fort! Here’s what some of the editors of McCall’s Quilting and Quiltmaker magazines have been sewing:
I’m also working on my English paper piecing project for the May/June issue of Quiltmaker. I lose interest very fast when I’m working with the same shape over and over, so I designed a little sampler. Each hexagon is the same size, but each will have different patches. I really like the variety. I’m using a charm pack of the new Pepper & Flax collection from Corey Yoder for Moda Fabrics. Here’s a little sneak peek:
From Associate Editor, Gigi Khalsa:
If you’ve looked through the September/October 2017 issue of McCall’s Quilting, you may have seen the color option I made for Night Brigade, the cover quilt designed by Pam Boswell. I think it came out pretty nice, so when a friend announced her pregnancy I thought it would make a really nice baby quilt. I basted it and started quilting over the weekend. I’m doing parallel lines in the stripes and an orange peel motif in the background, and so far, so good!
From Acquisitions Editor, Lori Baker:
In the midst of the busyness of Quilt Market and getting our house ready to sell, I am still thinking about my next project. Here is roll of 2 1/2″ strips from Patrick Lose. I’m thinking that I’ll do a really fast and easy quilt top and just sew the strips together with a bit of black between them and see what happens.
From Associate Editor, Tricia Patterson:
My thoughts are still dancing around quilt designs, block patterns and fabrics to complement my dark rich Riley Blake Confetti Brownie fabric. I’ve been imagining the pairing of a brown background fabric with an assortment of holiday red, green and cream prints. I couldn’t decide on a specific collection of patterns, although know I want to use traditional pieced quilt blocks. So, last weekend I turned to the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, compiled by Barbara Brackman, to identify the block designs that I think would show off the fun details in the design of many holiday fabrics, and at the same time give the brown fabric the space to hold it’s own. To start my block collection I selected Hens and Chickens, circa 1928, Hour Glass, which was introduced about 1929, and Squared Chain, which first appeared in 1976. Here is a start to my holiday quilt blocks using a Moda Fabrics Layer Cake of Eat, Drink & Be Ugly, designed by Sandy Gervais.
Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns
Hens and Chickens
That’s it for this week. Please stop by next week for more quilty inspiration!
I am having bunches of fun playing with the fabric from Victoria by Three Sisters for Moda Fabrics. For my adaptation of Gerri’s block I wanted to use one print for the center star and one for the outer star. I thought this would be a fun way to combine prints and textures. I can make 2 blocks from each pairing. Here are a few of my favorite pairing so far!
Hi – Happy Halloween! The editors at Quiltmaker and McCall’s Quilting have some frightfully good weekend sewing to share with you!
From Content Director, Carolyn Beam
I was finally able to spend some time on the Q’nique 14+ longarm machine by Grace and finish quilting my Halloween quilt. You can find the free pattern here. This is only my second time quilting on the Q’nique 14+, and I feel so much more comfortable. One of the main things that I have learned is that I need to calm down and relax more when I’m quilting. I know it sounds easier than it actually is, but it really helped my quilting become a lot smoother when I wasn’t so tense. My loops and swirls were rounder without any (for the most part) jagged points.
And since the quilting is now complete, I pieced together random strips of black Halloween prints for the binding. I’ll finally get this quilt on display before Halloween!
From Associate Editor, Gigi Khalsa
Over the weekend I used one of my favorite easy patterns to make a glasses case as a gift for a friend. I really like to make these but I’ve been having to focus on bigger projects recently, so needing a gift was a good opportunity for me to revisit a favorite easy, fast project. This pattern was published in the 2013 Quilters Newsletter Best Christmas Quilts special issue.
This weekend I went to my quilt group’s semi-annual retreat in Allenspark Colorado. This is a quilt block that was rejected for a quilt but matched my living room very nicely. So I made the block into a mini-quilt for my coffee table.
My 2016 Happy Days BOM is nearing completion. Two more applique blocks to complete and then a pieced and applique border to finish it up. I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of this year (only 1 year behind schedule – not bad!)
Scarlet & Silver designed by Tricia Patterson McCall’s Quilting November/December 2017 Kit available here.
When I heard in a meeting, “I just don’t get it.” referring to the design of Scarlet & Silver in the November/December 2017 issue of McCall’s Quilting, I thought I might need to take another look at my design. I took an improvisational approach to the placement of the stain glass blocks in my quilt, laying them in a scrappy fashion while keeping the gray stars in formation. I agree this organic layout may not be to everyone’s taste. So, I figure it might be a good to show some alternate ideas for my design.
A quilter could use the same fabric from the Winter’s Grandeur collection by Studio RK for Robert Kaufman Fabrics to make all the stained glass blocks, as shown below. The choice of the silver print for the star points and a red print for the background will bring focus to the stars surrounding the center panel, and give the whole quilt top a more balanced look.
Scarlet & Silver Stained Glass Block
I selected another Robert Kaufman panel, a digital print designed by Jan Patrik Krasny, called Sweet from the Picture This collection for an alternate design using Scarlet & Silver pattern. This magical landscape panel is perfect for a border of mystical stars.
Picture This by Jan Patrik Krasny for Robert Kaufman
First, I made several blocks using all four sections of the pattern to create a star similar to the one used in the original design. I chose bright tone-on-tone fabrics. After making 4 blocks I felt the size of the stars was overwhelming, taking away from the detail and brilliant coloring of the panel.
Then, I thought of using only half of the star block to make a smaller border. It ended up the perfect size the panel, adding just enough color to draw you into the picture as well as keep the mystical theme of the panel (right – click for a larger view!).
To be honest, I’ve never been a real fan of panels, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s fun to come up with border designs to complement the theme of a panel. I’m looking forward to bringing out Scarlet & Silver to showcase over the holidays and I now have a sweet wall hanging to pass on to my youngest granddaughter Lily.
cutting strip-pieced units from bands to make a Nine Patch
Strip piecing is a great technique for adding distinct design elements to a pattern, particularly when triangles are involved. Cutting triangles from strips sets or bands results in striated patches that can be rotated and arranged to create unique designs.
In general, strip piecing is a huge time-saver when it comes to having to make multiple identical units. Instead of cutting individual patches for something like a Nine Patch block, you piece long strips of fabric into strip sets or bands, cut them into segments, and then join the segments to make your block.
cutting triangles from a band yields two different units
Unless your band is completely symmetrical in terms of fabric placement and strip width you’ll end up with two different units from each band. Look at this as a two-for-one deal: two units for the price of piecing only one band, presenting opportunities for many different layouts.
Star of Wonder quilted Christmas tree skirt by Gigi Khalsa
Let’s take a look at some tutorials and projects that are made with strip-pieced triangles.
This tree skirt is an adaptation of one Gigi designed for the 2014 issue of Quilters Newsletter’s Best Christmas Quilts 2014. In this episode of “Quilters Newsletter TV: The Quilters’ Community,” Gigi joined me to demonstrate her piecing tips, various ways to arrange the triangles, advice for sewing triangles together as well as other projects she made with the triangles.
Quiltmaking with 60-Degree Triangles with Gigi Khalsa - YouTube
This wasn’t the only time Gigi explored the different design possibilities presented by strip-pieced triangles. For one of her I Love This Quilt! remakes, she chose Nuts and Bolts by Sandy Klop and applied her signature approach to gradated color to her fabric choices.
“Since each bullseye is made with strip sets of 7 strips each, I thought it would be fun to mix it up, if just a little bit,” she wrote. “I did not want to make the strip sets asymmetrical, since the template is placed both upside down and downside up on the strip sets. But I could use 2 similar but different pastels for each strip set, as well as the 2 similar but different dark prints.” You can read all about her process and find the link for the free pattern download here.
Spooky Placemats by Jean Nolte
If you’re looking for last-minute Halloween décor, the Spooky Placemats and coordinating Hexed Table Runner, both designed by Jean Nolte, showcase large strip-pieced hexagons in different ways: in the table runner they’re joined as blocks, while in the placemats they retain their hexagonal shape. The Hexed Table Runner and Spooky Placemats are each available as digital download patterns.
For a real two-for-the-price-of-one quilt pattern, take a look at Rosie Glow by Janet Jo Smith, which was featured on the cover of Best Weekend Quilts 2013. The main pattern gives instructions for trimming pieced rectangle patches to make the quarter-square triangle units needed for the blocks, but it also includes a bonus pattern that shows how to use bands to make the units needed both for Rosie Glow and a companion quilt that Janet named Peachy Keen.
(Preview of) Quilted Fan-Shaped Bag with Gigi Khalsa - YouTube
The Big Zigzag by Pam Rocco
For a more improvisational approach to strip-pieced triangles not to mention a fantastic stash buster, check out the free pattern for Pam Rocco’s The Big Zigzag. Pam’s inspiration for this quilt came from a friend who accepted imperfection as an inescapable fact of life. The pattern includes a full-size template for the triangles, or you can use a 45-degree triangle ruler for faster cutting. (Note that Nuts and Bolts is also made with 45-degree triangles.)
Speaking of rulers, for any projects that require equilateral triangles such as the tree skirt or Spooky Placemats, you can use a 60-degree acrylic ruler in place of using the markings on a basic rectangular acrylic ruler as Gigi demonstrated in the first video. If this is a technique that appeals to you, I recommend looking at getting a large triangular ruler that can be used to cut triangles up to 9″ tall. They are easier to handle than large rectangular rulers and speed up your time spent cutting.
These are just a few of the many ways cutting patches from strip-pieced bands can add pizzazz to just about any quilt pattern that calls for triangles or wedges. Just for fun, make a few bands from strips, cut triangles and see what designs you can come up with. You may surprise yourself with something fabulous.
Hi! Welcome back to Design Wall Tuesday. We’re in the middle of a beautiful Indian Summer—warm days, cool nights and beautiful color. I’m sure it won’t last for long, so we’re trying to enjoy it now! The editors at McCall’s Quilting and Quiltmaker also found some weekend time to work on projects.
From Content Director, Carolyn Beam:
The May/June ’18 issue of Quiltmaker will have a focus on hand projects—perfect takealongs for summer travel or enjoying time outside. I’m working on an English paper piecing design for this issue and spent some time cutting out paper templates and planning different fabric combinations for some of the blocks. I’m loving this fabric—Mama’s Cottage by April Rosenthal of Prairie Grass Patterns for Moda Fabrics.
From Associate Editor, Gigi Khalsa:
Sometimes I get a little daunted by my growing pile of unfinished projects, so I ignore it and start something new that I can finish fast, just to get that little thrill of accomplishment plus a new quilted item. This weekend I made a quick, simple pillowcase with easy piecing, basic quilting and an envelope back. I love the pretty painterly textures of the Vincent Van Gogh collection by the Van Gogh Museum for Robert Kaufman, so I put together a simple pillowcase in order to enjoy it on my sofa every day.
From Associate Editor, Tricia Patterson:
I made some progress this past weekend on a quilt I’m creating for my Quiltmaker blog series, It’s All About Brown: Design As You Go. Here’s a sneak peak of a section of the quilt. I challenged myself to use brown solid fabric, Confetti Cotton Brownie by Riley Blake. And, I’m taking an improvisational approach to designing and making the quilt, adding a variety of bright tone-on-tones, print and solid fabrics to finish this village-themed project. Click here to check out Part 1, here for Part 2 and here for Part 3 of the series.
Stop by next week for some more quilty inspiration!
Yours in stitches,
McCall’s Quilting, Quiltmaker and McCall’s Quick Quilts
If you are in need of a quick quilt as a holiday gift, start with preprinted panels and end with creative quilts. This issue features four unique ways to use quilt panels, including the exclusive Disney Princess Dreams. Quick piecing is accomplished in one Patch Wonders – two clever designs from simple shapes. Need a little holiday accent for your home? The Warm & Toasty mug rug, would be a cheerful addition.
Let’s preview some quilts!
Twinkling Bright, designed by Diane Harris
On the Cover: To make Twinkling Bright you only need to know how to make the easy Baby Windmill block in different variations to create this scrappy, vibrant Christmas tree throw quilt by Diane Harris for your home this season.
Full House, designed by Karen Bialik
The boat’s ready to set sail, but we’re waiting for you! This fast, fun project uses a bright and happy panel with a Noah’s Ark theme, surrounding it with a series of brightly colored borders. Karen’s design cleverly uses the whole panel, along with coordinating prints.
Moody Views, designed by Gigi Khalsa
Don’t have a view of a bustling cityscape? Make one! It’s easier than ever to change the view out of the window with this easy, fun and fast pattern. Easy cutting and sewing turn a simple panel into a view to enjoy forever. This pattern includes tips for adapting the project for any size panel. Kits available.
Zigzag Squares, designed by Jean Nolte
Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a quilter looking for a quick, scrappy project, this fat quarter quilt by Jean Nolte is one everyone can make. Select a variety of prints and textures to make the zigs and zags in this large 54″ x 72″ throw really pop. Kits available.
Disney Princess Dreams, designed by Jean Nolte
Everyone’s favorite Disney princesses have come together as one bed quilt full of color, fun and royal sparkle! Jean Nolte’s pretty twin quilt features a princess print panel exclusive to F+W Media, along with heart blocks and an explosion of color. Your favorite princess will be so warm and cozy as she dreams big! Kits available.
Merry Making, designed by Carolyn Beam
For this cheerful throw inspired by the trend of Ugly Christmas Sweater parties, Carolyn Beam added stitch-and-flip corners to the basic blocks to easily create a secondary design centered around the sashing posts. The pattern includes tips on using a design wall and how to use directional fabrics with quick-piecing techniques.
Hattie’s Choice, designed by Jean Nolte McCall’s Quilting January/February 2018
It’s not breaking quilting news to declare that color makes a big difference in a quilt’s design, and it can look drastically different depending on how color is chosen and applied. The challenge is figuring out which colors to choose and where to put them to get the best possible effect. It gets even trickier when value (how light or dark a color is) is introduced into the equation, which it almost always is since most successful quilt designs have plenty of value variation to make the design interesting.
Fons & Porter Hattie’s Choice Template Set
The digital design tools at our disposal, like Electric Quilt (from the Electric Quilt Company) and Adobe Illustrator, make project planning much easier these days. I can color, edit, plan and recolor until the design looks exactly how I want it to, without cutting a single piece of fabric. So when McCall’s Quilting received a three-color quilt design, based on the traditional Hattie’s Choice block from Jean Nolte using the Hattie’s Choice Template Set, I thought it might be fun to experiment with color and value to make the pretty design even more impressive. Jean’s design, Hattie’s Dream, is in the January/February 2018 issue of McCall’s Quilting.
The original coloring design, shown above, is nice just as it is, and would look great in scrappy red, white and blue prints. But in the office, we have been discussing color variations in recent months, specifically designs in which the color gradually shifts from the top to the bottom of the quilt, or from side to side, etc. This design was a great candidate for bringing those discussions from concept to reality. Carolyn Beam, our Content Director, suggested trying shades of red, so I started there.
I tried several different variations using shades of reds, oranges, pinks and purples in the wedge-shaped C patches, making value and color changes with each iteration (click for a larger view).
Color Option 1
Color Option 1a
Color Option 2
Color Option 2a
Next, I decided to switch up the values of the diamond-shaped patches, just to add another design element. I kept the diamonds black in the lighter blocks, but changed it to increasingly lighter shades of gray as the block backgrounds became darker. I also arranged the diamonds in the pieced border in a gradation of gray to black, to reference the quilt center.
Color Option 3
For the next variation, I kept similar colors but changed the composition to a central focus radiating outwards. It’s successful because of the block layout—there are an odd number of blocks vertically and horizontally, so one center block acts as an anchor for the design.
Color Option 3a
I tried altering the values of the diamond-shaped patches for this central composition as well. I think it would be better if the light gray was even lighter, with more variation between each shade of gray.
Which brings me to the final version. I changed the reds and purples to green, blues and aquas, and fixed the grays so there is a definite distinction between each one. Though none of the previous designs were bad, this one just looked better to me. The play between color, shape and value makes the design sparkle in a way that is missing in the other versions, perhaps due to the palette, or to the clear distinction between the grays.
Final Color Option
Going through the different color variations for a single pattern really emphasized for me how design is a continual process, rather than a specific skill. Each idea I had would spark another, and I went on a journey, complete with detours and U-turns, ending up at a completely different place than I had originally envisioned. If I had stopped after the first or second color variation, I wouldn’t have been able to explore all the other ideas that they inspired. Each of the many versions of this pattern would make a gorgeous quilt, even though we only chose one in the end.
Even when working with somebody else’s pattern, the colors and values that a quilter chooses can say a lot about his or her creative vision, and we encourage all quilters to play around with color ideas before deciding on a plan. We recently started adding coloring pages for some of our patterns to inspire this process, and hope it’s helped. You can make photocopies of the line drawing to color multiple variations, or even scan the diagram and color it digitally in Adobe Photoshop or similar art software for ease and speed. You never know what you can come up with until you try!
Designing quilts is something many quilters would just as soon leave to the professionals, particularly when it comes to complex designs. Not only do the pros have a good eye for what looks good on paper or a computer screen, they understand how to turn a 2-dimensional diagram into a 3-dimensional quilt. It’s one thing to draw it, but it’s another thing to sew it together.
There’s no reason, though, for even beginning quilters not to try their hand at coming up with original designs. This doesn’t have to mean a design that’s completely unique and never-seen-before; it can be as simple as knowing you want to make, say, a Churn Dash quilt in a specific size and color palette. Being able to draw that design with whatever sashing strips and borders you might want to incorporate will give you a plan to refer back to as you sew. That, in a nutshell, is all it takes to qualify as designing a quilt.
Today I want to share some additional tools and resources with you.
If you are reading this on a desktop or laptop computer, chances are you’ve got Microsoft Word just a couple of clicks away. But did you know you could use it to create your own quilt designs? In 2014 Quilters Newsletter printed a tutorial by Debbie Caffrey called “My Word” on how to design quilts using Microsoft Word. Afterward we heard from a number of readers telling us they had no idea they already had this “design software” available to them and were excited by exploring its potential.
using Microsoft Word to play with block layouts
In all this time I never gave Debbie’s approach a try until just recently. My use of Word to play with quilt layouts had previously been limited to things like importing a photo of a single block, copying it and rotating it to find a design I liked.
I’ll admit, it did take me a little while to figure out how to apply instructions that Debbie wrote for Word 2013 to the version of Word that I work with. But once I figured out how to navigate the dropdown menus and tool bars I usually ignore, it became easy really quickly.
This is a start on a design for a maple leaf quilt I have in mind. Now that I’ve drafted the basic block, I’ll be able to copy it as many times as I want, then rotate and recolor the blocks until I find a layout I like. This is going to be fun!
For more complex designs, EQ7 is what you want; it’s the gold standard for good reason, but there is a definite learning curve involved in using it effectively. It’s been a couple of years since I used it and I could definitely use a refresher for what I’ve already forgotten, not to mention all the things I haven’t explored yet.
If you have EQ7 and want to get the most out of it, you need to check out the “Design Quilts with EQ7 and Nancy Mahoney” course. Remember what I said earlier about turning a flat design into an actual quilt? Nancy is another fabulous quilt designer who knows how to use EQ7 to design quilts that go together easily and logically. Click here to learn about the course and to sign up to try it for free.
Below are a few preview videos to give you an idea of the variety of tips that Nancy shares in her course.
Design Quilts with EQ7 and Nancy Mahoney Online Course Trailer - YouTube
Desiging borders in EQ7 tip from Nancy Mahoney - YouTube
How to draw perfect circles in EQ7 tip from Nancy Mahoney - YouTube
How to Sort Blocks and Fabric in your Sketchbook in EQ7 tip from Nancy Mahoney - YouTube
Did you know you can also design original applique in EQ7? Quilters Newsletter printed the tutorial “10 Tips for Drawing Realistic Applique Using Electric Quilt 7” by Andrea Bishop in the February/March 2013 issue. The entire issue is also currently available as a digital download for only $1.20. (Prices subject to change.)
To see how EQ7 is used on the job, check back on Thursday for Gigi Khalsa’s blog post about how she experimented with color and value to find just the right fabric placement for Hattie’s Dream designed by Jean Nolte, a pattern being published in McCall’s Quilting January/February 2018 issue. Her blog post includes links to other great resources if you’re ready to take your quilt design skills to the next level, whatever that might be for you.
Whether you stick with the Microsoft Word you probably already have or pursue getting fluent in using EQ7, using design software can open up new worlds of in terms of the quilts you make.
Not only are quilt-as-you-go techniques great for making projects quickly, they’re perfectly suited for anyone who’s ever wondered how to stuff a large quilt sandwich through the throat of a domestic sewing machine to be quilted.
With quilt-as-you-go (QAYG), you do the quilting in smaller chunks, then join the chunks, or rather, blocks at the end of the process. You can also combine QAYG with a string-piecing approach, which is particularly well suited for small home-dec projects made with strips.
Here are some tutorials on those two main techniques and some different projects you can make with them.
Joining Quilted Blocks
Karen Charles joined me for this episode of “Quilters Newsletter TV: The Quilters’ Community” to demonstrate her basic tips for successful QAYG.
Quilt As You Go with Karen Charles - YouTube
In an episode of “My First Quilt,” Sara Gallegos demonstrated how to use QAYG to make Groovy, a reversible quilt designed by our own Lori Baker. Click here to view the full episode for free on QNNtv.com.
My First Quilt - Episode 215 Preview - Groovy - YouTube
Running in Circles is made with templates to create a cathedral windows-style pattern, as shown in this “Quilting Quickly” video.
How to Make Quilting Quickly's "Running in Circles" Table Runner: A 'Quilt-as-you-go' Lesson - YouTube
QAYG methods are also great for making rag quilts, as shown in this “Sew Easy” video with Jean Nolte and Colleen Tauke.
Sew Easy: Rag Quilts - YouTube
This method reminds me of string piecing, the big difference being that you’ve already got your batting in place. As you’ll see, it’s a good method to use when you’re working with strips of fabric.
“Quilty” Mary Fons and guest Heather Kinion demonstrate this QAYG method in this video. As they point out, it’s also a great way to clear out your scrap batting and fabrics and remedies the problem of quilting a large quilt on a home machine.
My First Quilt - Episode 218 Preview - Ho Ho Ho Quilt as You Go Wall Hanging - YouTube
The pattern for the Berries & Cream quilted throw pillow is in the February/March 2015 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts, and it includes step-by-step photos showing this QAYG technique used to make it. (I’ve been making a number of quilted pillow shams the past couple of years, and I think I need to add one of these to my to-make list.) Both the print and digital download editions of this issue are currently on sale for $1.80 each, which is a great deal for 14 full patterns.
With any QAYG technique, you need to plan ahead, and the technique may not work for every quilt pattern. But for certain quilts it’s certainly the way to go, and you’ll have a project checked off your list before you know it.