Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs, Stephanie @Late Night Quilter, Terri Ann @Childlike Fascination, and I am super excited to announce an optional extension to the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop group. Fabri-Quilt has generously offered to supply fabric for the 2015 New Block Blog Hop!
The week of August 31st, we will be sharing our collaborative block design efforts, and I am excited that our blocks will be combined to create donation quilts.
I wanted to kick off the New Block Blog Hop by talking about how I approach block design. Today I will walk through my block design process using our block size limitation (12″ by 12″ finished or 12 1/2″ by 12 1/2″ unfinished) and color palette.
There are many different tools available for drafting designs. Today I am going to focus on the options available for drafting by hand and not on a computer.
Some of my favorite tools for sketching by hand are shown above. The slightly green (or yellow) paper in the upper left is engineering paper, the paper in the upper right is just generic white printer paper, the book on the bottom left has a grid of dots, and the notebook on the lower right has a printed grid on its pages. I use pencils and colored pencils when I sketch by hand, and I usually have some kind of straight edge or ruler around as well. The only thing not shown in this image is my large eraser that also comes in quite handy!
I chose to work with the grid notebook, colored pencils, and a mechanical pencil for this tutorial. I went through my colored pencils and found a group of them that were close enough to the palette colors for my liking and labeled them on the paper. You can see my test marks on the paper in the upper right hand corner as I chose which colored pencils to use. I also drew out a 12 by 12 grid to represent the finished block. This is super handy for me to reference as I try out different shapes and ideas.
To start, I drew out a 2 x 3 half-rectangle triangle (HRT) and played around with using it as a repeat for a “border” for a central block. I surprisingly liked this very much (the first thing I sketch does not always translate into something I pursue). With the “frame” idea in place, I next thought about what to feature in the center of the pattern. The color order of my color block makes me think of a sunset on the ocean, so I decided to layer the colors that way in the center of the block.
Next, I went back and more precisely drew in my block idea using my ruler in the 12 by 12 grid and colored in the block.
Finally, using the grid paper to help me, I went through each color and figured out the number and size of blocks I would need to cut to make the block. For instance, the bottom horizontal chartreuse stripe in the sunset center panel is 1 block tall by 8 blocks wide. Adding and additional half inch to each of those dimensions for seam allowances, that means I need to cut a 1 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ rectangle for that piece.
Figuring out the sizing for the half rectangle triangles is a bit more tricky, but as I have a bit of experience with making them, here is my trick. The half rectangle triangle finishes at 2″ by 3″, so unfinished each HRT is 2 1/2″ by 3 1/2″. I make HRTs two at a time, and I add 1 inch to the unfinished block size for my initial cuts of fabric, so I need to cut 3 1/2″ by 4 1/2″ rectangles in order to make the HRTs.
HRTs are very directional, though, so the cut list in my image above is incorrect, and I don’t think I have enough white to make the exact block I have laid out. Which is a great point – not everything you design is going to be something you love or something you can use, but that’s OK!
Going back to the drawing board, I next tried out half-square triangles (HSTs) around the edge instead of HRTs. I colored in the HSTs in the sunset order I had in the center of the first block and used the center of the block to focus on another fun summery idea: a pinwheel. There will be plenty of fabric for this block, so it is a more successful design.
I hope this short tutorial is helpful and gives you some ideas on how you might want to get started with your own block designs!