Category Archives: Electric Quilt

A little learnin’

I finished quilting maple leaves in all 24 rail fence blocks of my wall hanging—yay!

And more good news…after a whole lot of dinking around in Electric Quilt, I finally figured out how to quilt the tree blocks for this project.

Cool, yes? Actually, it’s a huge relief because I didn’t think I would ever finish this little project for lack of a quilting plan and a years’ long mental block in coming up with one. What in the world was so hard about it? I still don’t know.

At one point, I quilted continuous curves in the background triangles and rectangles of four of the blocks, but ended up ripping it all out.

While I was satisfied with the technical quality of the stitches, I just didn’t like the way it looked. Seriously, this quilt was going to have to be re-named from something romantic like Trails Among the Pines to Arrested Development if I couldn’t get it together.

Now, with this major hurdle cleared, crossing the finish line is a reality. Getting there sure wasn’t easy, but I learned some things about editing quilt motifs in EQ, so it was worth it.

I started by importing this stencil design from the block library into the sketchbook for my project.

Once in the sketchbook, you can highlight the stencil design and click on the edit button to put it on the worktable.

Once it’s on the worktable, you can find out to what extent the motif is editable.

Click on the Pick tool and click around inside the design to understand how the motif has been sectioned; some stencils in the library contain one section, limiting your ability to edit them.

The motif I chose had four sections and I eliminated three of them by clicking on each section with the Pick tool to highlight it and then pressing the Delete key.

With one section of the motif left on the worktable, now I could start editing it.

First, I moved the motif to the center of the block.

Then I rotated it 45 degrees to orient it to an upright position.

Electric Quilt also lets you flip vertically and horizontally, but in this instance, neither was necessary.

Once the motif looks the way you want it to, save it to the sketchbook, then you can return to your quilt layout and place the edited motif inside.

One thing that helped, once I caught on, was to reduce the block size for the motif before saving it to the sketchbook so it would be easier to size once inside the layout.

The original block size of the stencil motif was 14 inches—notice how much empty space there is around the one section that was retained and centered.

My blocks are only six inches square, so I reduced the stencil motif block to three inches square. This made it much easier to drag it around within the layout, work around other motifs under consideration and size it within the block.

Now I’d better get back to it. Thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under Electric Quilt, machine quilting

When snowflakes fly sideways…

Sunday snow

…all day Sunday, you make a prototype of the triangle border for your spring quilt.

border

Electric Quilt offered two cutting options for the isosceles triangles in the border of my spring quilt: rotary cutting or a template.

Here is the rotary cutting diagram it generated:

rotary cutting diagram

Hmmm, cutting to a sixteenth of an inch in both directions and ensuring two 39-degree angles…I’m thinkin’—no.

So I printed the template pieces, one for the five large triangles in each border and one corner and its reverse for the other end,

template pieces

and taped them together with the aid of a light box:

light box

Here are the three templates spliced together and trimmed to include the ¼” seam allowance:

templates

Next, I applied pieces of double stick tape to the backside perimeter of each template. This should hold the template in place on the fabric while cutting around the three sides.

double stick tape 

Here is the prototype:

prototype1

The length was great, but somewhere I messed up and ended up with these:

bad seam2

bad seam1 

Today I made a second prototype and it turned out well:

prototype2

I’m now ready to cut into the good fabric and make the border for real.

border fabric

Next post, I’ll show you how I cut out the triangle pieces to conserve fabric and still keep the base of the triangles on the lengthwise grain.

Oh, and here are this week’s Aunt Grace blocks:

AGG50

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Filed under borders, Electric Quilt, piecing

Dealing with distractions

Not much going on around here, accompanied by not much quilting. I’m still highly distracted, keeping up with a high school senior’s end-of-year schedule, spring cleaning in anticipation of an overnight houseguest, and initiating some maintenance on our house, which involves phone calls, emails, estimate gathering and scheduling. I’m not thrilled about the intrusion into our personal space, but it must be done.

I have been working sporadically on my spring quilt, and will take a picture of it when the top is completely pieced.

In the meantime, I am staying true to my promise to keep up with my Aunt Grace blocks:

AGG40

This week, I finished the second chapter in Electric Quilt’s pieced drawing book featuring the EasyDraw drawing option. EasyDraw is like using graph paper and a pencil—minus the 50 pounds of eraser shavings I would be buried in if I was using real graph paper and a real pencil. Chapter 2 wasn’t as difficult as chapter 1 because I’ve used EasyDraw so much already, but I did learn to use the grid and edit line tools, which I hadn’t bothered with before now.

Required exercises included the drawing of 15 variations of a basket block, these being some of my favorites:

Ch2 basket blocks

To cement the four rules necessary for creating usable paper pieced blocks, the author has you draw house blocks, which bored me, mostly because making a quilt with house blocks sounds rather boring.

Ch2 house block

Then there were some Drunkard’s Path block variations, shown here in quilt layouts because the block is way more interesting when viewed this way:

Ch2 DPath1

Ch2 DPath2

There was a short lesson on drawing a double Irish Chain block,

Ch2 Irish Chain

and Tree of Life blocks

Ch2 TOL blocks

Thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under Electric Quilt, piecing

Distraction and triangle confusion

I’ve been very distracted lately, so progress on my spring quilt is somewhat stalled. When I finally mustered a small bit of attention span to work on it last week, I realized a serious cutting mistake which needed correcting. Fortunately, I wasn’t too far into it, so things were salvageable.

The original layout was a straight horizontal set

quilt9

featuring this block called economy:

economy block

To reduce the number of seams, I converted the layout to an on-point set

quilt11

consisting of square-in-a-square blocks alternating with 4-patch blocks.

sq-in-sq block

4-patch block

When I printed the rotary cutting instructions for the pieced setting triangles featured in the on-point layout, this was what Electric Quilt generated:

cutting1

The diagram shows the white triangles as half-square triangles, and despite my funny feeling about that, I proceeded to cut two or three squares in half and position them on the design wall. In a flash, my funny feeling became full-blown realization: half-square triangles are used to finish the corners of diagonally set quilts; I needed quarter-square triangles for the setting triangles. (Can you tell I’ve made very few on-point quilts?)

Sewing half-square triangles into the pieced setting triangles would result in a bias edge the entire perimeter of the quilt top (before borders). This top would stretch out of shape so fast, it wouldn’t be worth the bother.

So why did the EQ instructions call for half-square triangles?

EQ allows you to position a block in every other space of your layout by pressing the ALT key. This means the software reads all those partial blocks (like the one highlighted in green, below) as 4-patch blocks.

quilt setting triangle

The triangles that are visible in the layout are therefore assumed to be half-square triangles.

To confirm this, I checked the cutting instructions for the horizontal set layout made with the economy block.

quilt block selected

Sure enough, there was the diagram for quarter-square triangles.

cutting2

This reminds me of a conversation with our boys many years ago when they were complaining about having to learn to spell. They didn’t see the point—isn’t that what spell check on the computer is for? They were so disappointed when I reminded them of all the homonyms in the English language and pointed out that the computer doesn’t distinguish between words like there, their and they’re, so you have to know how to spell and when to use all three.

I’ll be applying that same logic when reviewing cutting instructions for the setting triangles in on-point quilts.

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Filed under designing, Electric Quilt, rotary cutting

Anatomy of a quilt design

I am not an artist. I have no formal art training and never considered myself to be one of those right-brain creative types. I love reading interviews of quilt designers and their explanations about how they create—what inspires and stimulates them—from nature, to childhood memories, to the shops they frequent, to the vacations they take, to the toys they played with, to the things they read and even their home furnishings. You learn about how they keep sketchbooks and a camera handy at all times or that they have a special collection in their home that kindles ideas. They have that inner “thing” that eventually culminates in a wonderful design.

In no way do I relate to any of that; I lack that inner “thing.” I just want my design to look good, use up my stash, and be doable.

So it felt weird to be asked to design a quilt back in 2010 when I worked at a local quilt shop, but after that first one came another and another. I have no idea how or why—no deep and meaningful explanations like the designers in the magazines point to—they just happened. Now my EQ7 file is stuffed with electronic sketches, and I wonder about my personal design experience often; I mean, who knew?

One of those ideas is for a spring quilt which got its start when I visited Rhonda in January. We spent a lot of time paging through some quilt books her aunt found for her at a yard sale for one dollar apiece. A project in one of the books featured this cool block:

block1

It consists of a 10″ center square surrounded by 16 flying geese units and eight half-square triangles. It’s a whopper at 20″ square.

I seriously considered this block, as the flowers in my focus fabric are large and would probably look good framed in this way. I scanned all the fabrics, colored the block with them

pink

yellow

and plugged the block into a layout:

quilt1

Epic failure—no explanation needed.

Maybe it needs sashing.

quilt2

Better, but not enough for me to like it. How about on-point?

quilt3

The blocks don’t look right.

A smaller quilt with fewer blocks might be the answer, but I had plenty of fabric and wanted to use as much as possible. I turned to my new (used) block book purchased during my Houston trip,

1001 Patchwork Designs book

found this block

block2

and plugged it into a layout:

quilt4

Okay, this is better, but it needs an interesting border:

quilt5

The border’s looking good. What if I added sashing and cornerstones?

quilt6

Ick. However, I like the additional green. What if I put green in the border?

quilt7

I like it, but don’t have enough green fabric.

What about using green only in the border corners?

quilt8

Great, I still don’t have enough green and now I don’t have enough of the small floral.

I changed the setting from 4 x 4 to 3 x 3 and put pink roses in the border’s corner squares.

quilt9

Now all I saw were unnecessary seams, which I hate. I realized that those seams could be eliminated if the top was pieced in diagonal rows, with the flower blocks being constructed as square-in-a-square blocks and alternating them with 4-patches, eliminating the need to work with whole lot of triangles, like this:

quilt10

And that’s my brutish, unrefined approach to design creation—mashing it around digitally until something pleasing emerges that also fits with my stash. Although, I confess to seeking and finding additional green to use in the corners. Don’t you hate it when you’re a half yard short?

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Filed under designing, Electric Quilt

Less of Mr. Shingles and more block drawing

So Mr. Shingles is close to being locked back up in the closet. The anti-virals prescribed by the doctor finally started showing signs of kicking in late Wednesday, early Thursday and it was time to stop being miserable and get on with things.

To that end, I opened up my pieced drawing book from Electric Quilt yesterday

EQ book1

and blew through the last two lessons in chapter one. The chapter is only 28 pages, but contained 60 practice blocks, making the page count deceptively small. The last two types of blocks to practice using the PatchDraw method included kaleidoscope

patch draw kaleidoscope blocks

and octagon.

patch draw octagon blocks

The two were very similar, so it didn’t take long to draw all 12 blocks in both categories.

Here are some layouts with a couple of the octagon blocks:

octagon quilt1

octagon quilt2

Later this week I’ll show you my progress on the spring quilt I talked about a few weeks ago but which got interrupted by Mr. Shingles’ rudely unannounced visit. I count myself lucky to have caught it in time for the medication to work and for not having a severe case of this nasty condition. I realize it could have been a lot worse.

Thanks for visiting.

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Filed under Electric Quilt

Homework progress

Two months into the new year, and I’m still keeping up with my self-imposed rule to sew 10 Aunt Grace blocks per week:

AG140

and complete two drawing lessons per month in Electric Quilt:

patch draw eight point star blocks

This lesson covered LeMoyne stars, which I found much easier and more fun to draw than circles and arcs.

star quilt

Some of the blocks show seam lines between the star points. Adding them allows EQ to section the block more easily if you want to make the block using a paper foundation. The reason is clear, but if I ever was to attempt the block, I would try set-in seams, as I hate adding seams where they don’t need to be. Fewer seams make for a cleaner block appearance and enhance the structural longevity of the quilt (fewer places to come un-sewn over time).

As I wrote that part about fewer seams, I thought it might be time for me to attempt a LeMoyne star, so I did, and I documented my experience, which I will share with you tomorrow.

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Filed under Electric Quilt, piecing

A little music, drawings, and some blocks

My vacation from cooking these past two weeks came to an end yesterday now that the high school musical is finished. I enjoyed going up to school with other moms and dads to help serve dinner to the kids during that time, something I’ve missed since marching season ended in October.

The play was All Shook Up, a comedy originally performed on Broadway in 2005, featuring the songs of Elvis Presley.

We’re so proud of Ross for getting top billing in the program under the orchestra list.

We’re so proud of Ross for getting top billing in the program under the orchestra list.

The kids did a great job. It’s a fun play, cute story, funny, and loaded with great music. At the end of the play when the curtain had been drawn and the house lights went up, the orchestra started playing this rock out song and I recorded it. I apologize for the video being so dark; the walls in the pit are painted black, there’s limited lighting and it’s difficult to film through a safety net. Ross is on the far left playing a white guitar. Click here to listen. Pretty good for a bunch of high school kids.

I finally completed another Electric Quilt drawing lesson, this one on arcs:

patch draw arc blocks

At the author’s recommendation, I placed a couple of the more unusual arc designs into layouts, and I have to admit, they are quite striking, although it’s a bit intimidating to think about actually piecing one of these.

arc quilt1 

arc quilt2

I’m also surprised at myself for keeping up with my commitment to make 10 Aunt Grace snowball blocks per week; 130 so far!

AG130

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Filed under Electric Quilt, kids, piecing

Catching up

I’m finally caught up from taking four days off in Houston last week—you play, you pay, but it was so worth it.

Things are very sparkly around here as Mother Nature has dumped a bunch of snow here over the last few days, requiring significant shoveling three days last week.

snow1

snow6

I made oatmeal raisin cookies yesterday and took a bunch of them over to our neighbor, Dave, who kindly ran his snow blower across both lengths of our sidewalk this week, saving John a good half hour or so.

oatmeal cookies

This is another excellent recipe from my maternal grandmother, and I’m pleased to share it with you:

Grease and flour your cookie sheets.

Combine in a small saucepan:

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup water

Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and cook raisins for 5 minutes. Drain water from pan and set aside to cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Measure and set aside:

  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 cups quick cooking oatmeal

Sift together:

  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup shortening

You will also need

  • 1 egg

Cream shortening and sugar.

Add egg.

Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk.

Blend in raisins.

Add oatmeal.

Drop by heaping Tablespoons onto cookie sheets.

These cookies don’t spread a lot during baking, so you can bake 16 per sheet.

Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, making sure they don’t get too brown.

I also finished the next lesson in Electric Quilt’s Pieced Drawing book, which dealt with circular blocks on the PatchDraw worktable. These blocks were much more difficult and took me a lot longer than the previous lesson’s blocks. I ended up working on them over several days, but finally finished last night.

patch draw circle blocks

The next lesson involves arcs which are akin to circles, so I hope they don’t take as long.

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Filed under Electric Quilt, home cookin', miscellaneous

Back to school

Just to get it out of the way, in my desire to stay accountable, here’s my progress on the Aunt Grace Scrapbag quilt blocks—10 more of them, right on schedule:

AG80

One thing I enjoyed doing last summer was participating in Electric Quilt’s summer drawing series, a collection of online tutorials to help EQ users learn more about the four different drawing options available in the software. I liked it so much, I wanted to learn more, so when the company offered these books at 25 percent off right before Christmas, I ordered them—an early Christmas present to myself:

EQ book1

EQ book2

EQ book3

I began with the pieced drawing book since most of my drawing experience in EQ so far has been with pieced blocks. To pace myself, I thought one or two lessons per month seemed reasonable, given that after many lessons you are faced with a full page of 12 practice blocks and the statement, “Try one or try them all!”

These blocks were drawn in PatchDraw using the rectangle grid, and I found drawing them to go much more slowly than drawing them in EasyDraw. I’m guessing when the grid option changes from a rectangle to a circle, arc, eight-point star, octagon or kaleidoscope shape, PatchDraw’s benefits will present themselves.

patch draw rectangle blocks

Since I’m in this for the long haul, I drew all the blocks featured on the practice page and was glad I did. It got me used to using the cloning, rotating and flipping features and helped me become more familiar and comfortable with the tools and features in the PatchDraw drawing option, which is the whole idea, of course. All-in-all, I enjoyed cracking open my new textbook.

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Filed under Electric Quilt, piecing