Sunday, October 18, 2015

My Bee Hive Block: Hidden Gems & My Design Process

 I am so excited for this blog post today!! Almost a year ago Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts emailed me and asked if I would join her in being a guest designer for The Bee Hive - a quilt block tutorial series that she's been hosting all year. The focus of each block design has been taking a single block that when repeated creates an interesting secondary design, which is one of my favorite things to do!! (I could look for secondary patterns all day long if I had the time.)

Each month Alyce posts her own quilt block designs, and has one quest designer share a quilt block. All of the blocks are fantastic!! I do hope you will check them out!


Today I am guest blogging over at Blossom Heart Quilts and sharing my block!

Hidden Gems


I must admit, it doesn't look like a whole lot here, but on Alyce's blog I share loads of photos of what you can do with it on repeat. Though there are more than what I shared, so definitely use the coloring pages I included in the pattern! Be sure to take a look... and then come right back! Because I have more fun things to share with you.

 Did you check it out?! What do you think? The pattern is available for free on Craftsy! Due to the size of the paper piecing templates, I formatted it for printing on two different paper sizes:
  • You can print it on letter size paper (the standard 8.5"x11" paper. Note, the pattern will need to be taped together before piecing.) 
  • OR legal size paper (8.5"x14". Because it's the same width as letter paper, you can print this size on all printers. Just be sure to change the paper size settings before printing.Oh, and you don't need to tape anything together if you print on this size of paper.)
Not sure which you want to use? Grab both patterns! They're both free. :)


 *****

 The next thing I want to share with you is how awesome Alyce is! (you can follow her on instagram by the way, she's @blossomheartquilts. And if you don't already, you should.) Anyway, this month she has been hosting her DIY Block Design: Challenge and Blog hop! It's been really fun! She's has been encouraging all of us to take our quilt design ideas from our head, put them to paper, and turn them into an actual quilt! Sound fun?! But maybe a little scary?

 If you have ever had the desire to design your own quilt block, but haven't known where to begin, I do highly recommend Alyce's ebook! It's called, DIY Block Design: Your designs from sketch book to quilt by Alyce Blyth.
eBooks are nice because you can take them with you eveywhere you go!! Put it on your phone or tablet, and you never have to worry about losing these great resources!!


She does a fantastic job at explaining the ins and outs of quilt block layouts, breaking them down into basic structures making them easy to assemble.

 


She also includes a lot of the quilt math for you so you don't have to! (Like what size block to start with when making HST's, QST's, flying geese and even no-waste flying geese! and more! Thank you Alyce!!)


That alone is useful information for anyone designing a quilt block - beginner or experienced!! Be sure to check it out! Purchasing the book isn't required for the challenge and blog hop, but it would definitely be helpful. And I wouldn't be saying this if I didn't think it was awesome!


So anyway, my point is, is that Alyce asked me if I would share some of my design process with you to go along with her event this month! And of course I would!


My Design Process

On Alyce's blog, she shares a great list of tools and software you can use to design your own quilts. One thing she mentions is graph paper. That is one thing I always have near by! Though I don't use it as much as I used to.

My go-to software, or tool, that I use to design is Adobe Illustrator. I know there are other designers that also use Illustrator, though it's not designed to be a quilting software, so it doesn't have all the advantages that other programs do (like telling you how much fabric you'll need. I'm a little jealous of that feature). It also has a steep learning curve if you aren't familiar with it. But you can find so many tutorials online, on YouTube, as well as online classes, that will teach you all about it. So don't be afraid of it! Though it isn't cheap either, (and now I'm sounding like it's all negative) but I do recommend it if you are serious about designing! I absolutely love it and could NOT live without it!

So now I'll going to share with you a little bit of my process of designing, hopefully without boring you too much.

Thinking about my process, I realize how much it has evolved over the years! I started out on graph paper, making a bunch of quilt block outlines, and drawing away, creating lines and shapes and designs until I found one I liked.

Here are some early drafts of my Grandma's Lawn Chair pattern.

Now I feel like I've found a freedom in Illustrator where I can just sit down at the computer and a little while later (and sometimes a lot later) I have a design that I then spend hours more exploring and coloring - not because I have to spend hours on it, but because that is maybe my favorite part of the process!

I think that is one huge advantage of using computer software. It takes me two seconds to copy and paste a design, a minute to color it in, or I can re-color it a hundred times! Whereas graph paper, for every adjustment, or color change, I want to make I have to redraw the entire block all over again.

Anyway, it's fun! :) So let's begin:

First I start by making a box. (Since I design quilt blocks, I always start with a box. Though lately I've really enjoyed the idea of creating designs that are not square... I'm excited to see where that takes me in the next year!)



Since I mostly design paper piecing patterns, my process is a little different than what Alyce shares in her ebook, though the concepts really are so much alike!


I am kind of obsessed with geometric designs, so the next thing I almost always do is make up a grid to fit inside my box.




I have recently started making my grid very small (each square being 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch). It means that I have more accuracy in where my lines start and stop, and I can also create more detailed designs.

A quick tip: there is a grid tool that will make the grids for you! You just enter the finished size of your block, and how many lines you want, and there it is! Super fast and easy!


In this image I made 1/2 inch squares. Notice how I have 23 divders instead of 24?! It's just like cutting bread. If you want to cut a loaf of bread into 5 pieces, you only need to make 4 cuts. (Something I remember from my early childhood years. I don't know. lol. But it helps me remember!)


I use the grid, not necessarily to section off my block, but more as guides in creating symmetrical or asymmetrical designs. It helps me ensure that everything is accurately placed, and that everything will line up perfectly when I go to actually piece the pattern with my fabric. If one line ends even just a little bit off, it makes it harder to get my fabric sections aligned just right. And we all know how much we love those perfect points!!! This has been a great method for helping us all achieve that to the best of our abilities!

Also, because it's a paper pieced pattern, I don't have to worry about all the quilt math in a traditional quilt block. Which is really nice. ;)


From here I use the line tool and start drawing lines!


 I will usually lighten my grid lines, or make them a different color or weight so that I can tell the difference between the grid and my lines.


I get my inspiration for this step from anywhere and everywhere. When I look at patterns on clothing, buildings, photographs, nature. From other quilt blocks - I might see a design and think about how it would look if I changed basically every line, but using the original concept as a starting point. etc.  There are so many possibilities everywhere you look!


I usually will only draw lines in one quadrant of the block, depending on the type of design I'm making. My quilt block I'm sharing today, Hidden Gems, is basically a giant half square triangle (HST) with a design in each triangle. Once I have something I think I'll like, I group all the lines, and copy, paste, and rotate them until I have a complete block.



Next I'll make a copy of that block and color it in to get a better idea of how it will look.


From here I'll either make adjustments and repeat until I have a block I like. Once I have something I'm satisfied with, I'll put the block on repeat and color that in.

...reapeat block colored...
I like to play around with the repeats as well. Simply repeating the design, and then rotating the blocks within the repeat.

Repeating a block is a HUGE part of what I do. I love blocks that can stand alone and be beautiful, but I love even more the creativity that comes in finding different ways to play with it on repeat.


My Winter Holly block is an awesome example of that.


this is a 16 block repeat: or 4x4 design


Look how changing up where you place the colors and values, really change up the look of the block!


From here, I'll make more adjustments to the initial block and repeat the process until I have something I like. Once I'm happy with the design, I then go back to the individual block and then convert that into a paper piecing pattern.




This step can also sometimes change the overall look of the block.

See how once you add the lines that break up your block for paper piecing adds more options for coloring it?

And the repeat design changes also! But don't worry, you can still create the original design! You just have a few more options now.


After finishing this step I'll often go through all the steps again, making sure I'm happy with the repeat design, and will sometimes go back and adjust my lines even further.

Pretty soon after that I have my pattern pieces! Next I label and number them, and create cutting templates and coloring pages! I throw it all into Adobe InDesign, and poof! I have a pattern! Ha! I wish it were that simple, but that's the basic process from start to finish!



Now I have to add, as I've been reading through the stops on the blog hop, I realize that I design a little differently than some. It seems like a lot of people start with a design, or a color scheme and go from there. Sometimes I do start with a specific design in mind, but I don't know that I ever have a color scheme. I just seem to wing it! And personally, the color schemes I use to color my blocks with when I'm testing it out, are almost always super ugly! And never anything I would make in real life! It's not until I have the finished pattern, that I can then take it to my fabric and start figuring out colors and prints to use. :)

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul." Elder Uchtdorf #quote:

Isn't this so true?!! Creating is such an important part of who we are!

And I'm alright with that! Because it works for me! If you are starting out, and learning the design process from others, and something just doesn't flow for you, don't fight it! Try everything, explore new ideas and techniques, and find what works for you! That's the only way that you'll love the process and be happy with the end result!

nice...while I love to sew and craft sometimes things don't turn out the way I see them in my mind!:
I had to include this quote too! Because it's so true! Don't let the fear of failure stop you! Whatever you create will be beautiful!! So enjoy the process!!



Thank you so much for stopping by today! And thank you so much Alyce for having me! I have enjoyed this so much! 


If you do use my Hidden Gems pattern, I would love to see what you make! You can tag your photos on Instagram with #fbpPatterns and I'll be sure to see them! Or you can share them on Craftsy, or shoot me an email fromblankpages@gmail.com. It always makes my day to see your beautiful creations! And be sure to share your pictures with Alyce too! For the Bee Hive blocks: #thebeehivequilts and for the blog hop: #myDIYblockdesign



Have a great week!


Diane

1 comment:

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