Cake Talk - Designing

>> Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's been really cool {and nerve racking} to see the photos of the basket block for the Layer Cake Quilt Along as they get made and posted to the flickr pool.

I thought I'd share the process I went through when I designed this block - with lots of pictures!
Already you can see from the first photo that I had 2 handle options figured out.
But, let's start at the beginning. . .

First I started to doodle with symmetrical shapes in different grids.
I brainstormed ideas for a finished 12 inch block.
I wanted the block to "be" something - butterfly, flower . . . basket!
I love basket blocks and got really excited thinking I could make a basket block for the sampler.

Then I worked on a basket that was simple - meaning no applique and not turned on point.
A beginner friendly block.
And, one without too many pieces because I knew the seam allowances would take away from useable fabric and shrink the size of my block.
You can see in the top left my initial drawing for the basket block.

You can also see that I design on paper, with pencil.
I tend to let my ideas go all over the place before I settle on something to explore.

I draw then think, and think, then draw.

I have thought about working with EQ7, but I'm not yet.
I think it could be really useful for once I have an idea figured out, and want to explore changing sizes, adding an alternate block, or playing with settings and colours.
But so far, I do it the old fashioned way:)

Here is my test block. I used fabrics other than the ones from my Layer Cake in case it didn't work out. In case I changed my mind:)
I really like this block {you can see a lot of similar ones at the flickr pool too!}

To this point, designing the block had taken less than 2 days and only one sewing session.
It felt too good to be true!
Sooooo, I went back and read the "rules" I needed to follow.


This is when I read the little fact about NOT using the background yardage in the block - it was to be all layer cake fabrics!

This is my cutting chart. It's been hacked at and pieces renamed, but still, it's mine:)
I reworked the block and discovered I needed to make a decision about the handle.
I couldn't figure out how to make the half square triangles needed to make the handle out of my layer cake material. I just ran out of pieces.

This was hard for me. A tricky design decision.
I really liked my first idea.
I knew it would work with the fat quarters - no problem.
I could put out BOTH blocks and people could choose.
But, I was to design only one block and I felt it wasn't right to put out both handles - because it's kind of 2 blocks, yes?
My block was designed for the layer cake, so I opted to go with the more squarish looking handle.
That way, I reasoned, if someone was going back to the pattern later with a layer cake, it would be easy to do. And if someone was just starting quilting, one set of instructions is more than enough:)
I did include different cutting directions for the fat quarter to save on fabric and piecing, but it was for the same block. I felt good about it.

Part of me was/is really frustrated when I see the 'original' design popping up, but then most of me is really happy that those that could do it, did do it!

This is part of the behind the scenes stuff I work through on my own,
in my head,
in my own little space,
while I watch the needle go up and down connecting fabrics.

Then I put my design out there and wave good-bye, grateful for the waiting quilters!

With Joy,
Sarah Vee

P.S. I'd like to thank my readers who left me questions about designing. I hope I answered some for you in this post, and I will go back through them and answer more in future posts. Thanks for commenting!


Mary Grace McNamara December 7, 2010 at 7:57 AM  

I love to read about the process other designers go through before they end up with their final presentation! I think it's similar for everyone, but it's still fun to get inside a quilt designer's head! Thanks for sharing. BTW, I loved piecing your block!


Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet December 7, 2010 at 9:32 AM  

I was wondering why you choose a squared off handle instead of the tapered one. You just answered the question. Glad a lot of us did your original design without even knowing about it. All great minds think alike.

Nanette Merrill December 7, 2010 at 11:28 AM  

You are so good sarah. Nice job.

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