Starting Squares and Crosses

The next quilt is ready to be born!!   Starting a new quilt is always sooooo  exciting.  I have designed this square:


I will be using a 4 x 4 arrangement of these squares, each 18″  for a final size of 72″ square.  The background will be a snowy white, and all tiny center squares a bright color.  The squares that are aqua here will be a different saturated pastel in each square.   In a few of the squares, the cross will be a contrasting color.

Color Auditions in EQ7

When I mention EQ7, fellow modern or art quilters say, with some condescension, “I don’t make that kind of quilt” or “My quilts are too original for that kind of software”.  But here’s my secret:  I use EQ7 primarily for Color Auditions.  Yeah, auditions.  You know, when you put 4 or 5 different color combos on your design wall to see which speaks to you?  Or when you haul out the colored pencils and make half a dozen color iterations?  You can do that preview in EQ7 with just a few clicks – and no fabric, pencils or paper are consumed in the process!

EQ7 brags about being able to import different ‘Fabric Libraries’, to see exactly how your quilt will look.   Many love this, I think mostly those who make traditional quilts.  But not me!  That feature could disappear tonight and I wouldn’t notice!  What I want is to see pure colors together, not the motifs on the fabrics.

I’m still on a steep learning curve for EQ7 (and for Adobe Illustrator, which answers other parts of my design needs). There is probably a way to import additional colors into EQ7 or to make custom colors that don’t disappear – and I can’t wait to learn how to do this.  In the meantime, I make do with the basic colors.

Here’s how Color Auditions work with a traditional block from EQ7’s block libraries.  This is Flying Squares.

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Here are the Flying Squares into a 4 x 4 grid.

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Now for the fun part.  What different emotional feelings can I give to the quilt with different color combinations?  Here are some colors that have a Garden feeling-  yellow centers, white petals, green background.  Not bad.  But a bit blah.

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What if we vary the background color just a bit, adding a neighboring blue-green in a checkerboard grid?

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Adding an soft aqua to the medium green makes it more interesting.  Oh, and what about varying the color of the flower centers?Flying Squares 4

Making half the centers red instead of yellow adds even more interest.  For a different feel, what if we replace the neutral black with orange, opposite green-blue on the color wheel?  And make the white flower petals into a more neutral brown?

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Nah, I’m not liking that.  How about back to the blacks and whites, but with pinks instead?

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Totally different feel, no longer like a garden at all.  But lively!    Or, how about if we make the background squares alternating black and white, using brown ‘petals’ with blue and green centers.

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Totally different again.  But nah, not all that appealing.    I could explore this version further by leaving the black and white background and varying the centers.

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I kinda like this quieter version.  It has a soothing, almost meditative feeling.  And here’s a final version, substituting orange for the white background squares.

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Bringing in red, and pale orange centers makes a warm and energetic,version, with a feeling like flames or autumn.

All these versions took me about 5 minutes to do IRL.  And what I’ve show here is just scratching the surface of Color Auditioning using EQ7.

To  make one of these quilts, my next step would be surveying my fabric stash to see what fabrics (prints or solids) I had that approximated each of the colors.  Frequently that will lead me in yet another direction or dimension, and the final quilt won’t look much like the final EQ7 version-  but it was that EQ7 version that allowed me to decide where to start.

Thanks, EQ7!

Ciao,  Karen.

Working with Bias Tape on Quilts

The January Lucky Quilt Challenge was all about using bias tape as a design element, and I learned a lot doing it.  Here are some specific pearls to save you from having to make the same experiments.

I started with a Clover bias tape maker.  It was an older one, so the marking was in milllimeters rather than inches:  9mm.  This is 0.354 inches or a little less than 3/8″.  It appeared from the websites I looked at that the width of fabric should be approximately twice the width of the final binding.  Twice 9 mm is 18, of course, which is about 0.704 inches or slightly less than 3/4 of an inch.  I wasn’t sure about using 3/4″, so I decided to experiment with 1/2″, 5/8″ and 3/4″.

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I wanted to include a seam on each bias strip trial- since the seams usually seem to occur at the most inconvenient places, design-wise.

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Sewing these seams with very very tiny stitches permits you to trim these seams very closely, minimizing the volume of extra fabric so there is less bulk in the resulting bias tape.  (bottom untrimmed, top trimmed).

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The 1/2″ attempted bias tape is shown in the top photo of the set below.  There is not quite enough fabric for reliable folds.  The second photo is the 3/4″ strip, with a bit too much folded fabric.  The final photo of the group below is the 5/8″ strip- see how it coils around easily without excess bulk, even at the top of the curl where there is a seam.  Yes, Goldilocks, 5/8″ is definitely the best width of fabric strip to make 9mm bias tape.

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What about attaching the tape to the surface of the quilt?  Three options pop to mind:  (1) separate top stitching on each side of the tape (2) wide zig-zag to tack down the whole tape at once, or a twin needle to tack both sides down at once.  It turns out that an edge-stitching foot is the key to option #1.

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Butting the tape edge against the guide bar makes a consistent top stitch that is easy to sew.

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And here is what it looks like using a twin needle:

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Finally, here is a close-up of all three stitching option.  The top is the edge-stitching, the middle  is the zigzag stitch, and the bottom was attached with twin needles.

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In general I prefer the top version, the individually top-stitched edges.  In some design setting, the second zig-zag option might be a good stylistic choice, with either blending or high-contrast thread.  With a smaller stitch setting, the twin needle option could be useful if you needed to get a lot done in a hurry- turning corners neatly could be tricky though.

Takeaway:  Experiment to determine the best fabric strip width for your chosen bias tape maker.  And remember the various stitching options for reinforcing your design intentions!