Friday, 16 October 2015

My Design Process {DIY Block Design}

My friend Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts has recently released a digital book called DIY Block Design. It's all about a topic very close to my heart - quilt maths and how you can use it to design and make quilt blocks. You might remember the Decipher Your Quilt series Leanne and I ran last year where we looked at a variety of quilt blocks and discussed how to figure out the maths behind these blocks? Alyce's book is a great resource for this kind of information - Alyce shows you how to break down quilt blocks and shows lots of methods for making some common block components. She even includes tables of measurements you are likely to need when designing and making your own blocks. It's a really well written and easy to read book, so if you struggle with the maths behind making quilts you will find it very useful. 

Alyce asked if I'd be happy to talk a bit about my design process as part of her book launch. I happily said yes, and then wondered what I could actually say! Having spent the last few days thinking very hard about this, I realised that my favorite quilts and blocks I have designed are the most simple. And they are the designs that came together very quickly, after a flash of inspiration or some kind, rather than agonising over them for weeks on end. My designs normally start as a dodgy sketch on paper, and then if they're block based I'll draw them up in EQ7 where I play around with colour. I must admit that most of my recent quilts have been designed with a lot of room to play with free motion quilting too. I love having plenty of negative space to fill with quilting! 

Inspiration for my quilts is incredibly varied. The design I'm most proud of - Misdirection - was very much inspired by the simple geometric designs prominent in graphic design in the 1960s, with bold bands of colour angled across the quilt top. This design came together really quickly - a few sketches on paper, and then drawn up in EQ7 to play with colour placement. I do find it's those quick designs that I don't deliberate over that I end up liking the most. And this is a classic example of a quilt I designed to go nuts with FMQ - I'd really like to make another version and do something completely different with the quilting. 

The block I designed for the Bee Hive Quilts - Checker - is another of my favorites. The idea behind the Bee Hive is that the blocks are great bee blocks, that create an interesting secondary design when placed together. For this block, I wanted to design something really simple but quite effective. I think the best bee blocks are those that don't take forever to make, and that are really easy to make your own with colour choice and that don't rely on lots of points matching between blocks. I think this ticks all those boxes (and if you have a look at #checkerblock on Instagram, you'll see there are some phenomenal quilts being created with this block!)

This block actually went through a couple of changes before I settled on the final design. My initial design looked like this:

But when I placed it into a quilt layout I decided it was a bit boring.

But by switching the solid coloured squares with half square triangle units and making the sashing strips darker, it became a lot more interesting. And so my block design was born!

The other really cool thing about this block (and this is where EQ7 is invaluable for designing blocks and quilts!), is that by reversing where the colours are placed it creates a completely different quilt.

It's also a fun block to play around with rotation. A quilt made from straight-set blocks looks quite different...

to one where each alternate block is rotated.

Hopefully this was an interesting glimpse into my design process. There is no way I would claim to be an expert designer (and I actually haven't been doing a lot of designing of late!), but it is a LOT of fun to play around with quilt designs and come up with something you love. 

Alyce is running some fun giveaways over the next few weeks - each week there is a different theme and you can win some great prizes by sharing your designs on Instagram with #myDIYblockdesign - check out all the details here

I hope you're all having a great week! My eldest celebrated his 11th birthday yesterday and I actually managed to get his quilt finished (at midnight the night before his birthday!!), so I'll share that as soon as I get some decent photos. 

xx Jess


Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl said...

I really like getting to read about other's design process, so thank you for sharing! Also, I am so glad the quilt was done in time for your son's birthday. :)

QuilterinMotion said...

I love the "Misdirection" quilt. I often love the simpler designs best too and your FMQ adds so much! Thanks for your thoughts on designing your own quilts.

artsycraftsyivy said...

Too funny, Jess! We're doing your block design for our BOM this month in my guild! :)


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