When Alyce (of Blossom Heart Quilts) asked me to be part of the Blossom Heart Quilts DIY Block Design Challenge I thought she was crazy. There’s no way I’d call myself an “expert designer”, if anything I’d call myself a wannabe-designer-hack. Because here’s the thing, being a good designer takes a lot of work, practice, trial and error and a dash of talent. That sounds like a bit of a downer but there is a silver lining; you can learn all of those things. It’s what I plan on doing!
Designing like any creative endeavour is just a muscle, and like muscles the more you use it the stronger it gets. It’s also one of those things in life that if you invest time in learning and researching you’ll find that time invested will pay you back ten fold. One of the great things about living in the time that we do is that information and experts (true experts) are only one click away all you have to do is start.
Sometimes you get really lucky and an expert takes the time to share their skills and knowledge with you to help you on your way to becoming that person you want to be. When it comes to designing quilt blocks the ever fabulous Alyce (of Blossom Heart Quilts) has done just that and she’s written an eBook, DIY Block Design, to help those of you that are wanting to become a designer. It’s a really great resource and something that you’ll be able to turn to again and again to help you on your journey.
To celebrate the launch of her eBook Alyce is hosting a DIY Block Design Challenge for all of October. It’s a four week program of sharing, inspiring and participating and you can find out more about it by clicking here.
To kick it all off Alyce asked if Heidi (of Fabric Mutt), Christa (of ChristaQuilts) and I would all share a bit about our design process. I thought it might be a great opportunity to share a bit about how I designed my block for the Bee Hive Quilt Series.
I like to go old school when I’m working on a quilt design – it’s all about the graph paper, pencil and eraser. The graph paper helps me get the scale and size right in my mind and it’s also really easy to ensure that your pieces are consistent.
I usually take my inspiration from shapes, patterns and traditional blocks. I find sticking to the traditional blocks really great for building confidence and it’s one of the good things about Alyce’s book is that it gives you the tools for learning how to upscale or miniaturise your blocks. (Perfect for all those mini quilt swaps that are happening these days!)
With this block I had to make a 12″ block that caused a secondary pattern so I drew my grid up into a 24″ square, divided it by four and started with the block pattern I wanted to make at the intersection of those four blocks. Once I had that worked out working out my single block wasn’t a problem.
I think designing blocks is really like anything, if you want to be good at it you need to practice, practice, practice (and practice some more). The way Alyce has structured this book makes it really fun to work through and learn all her tips and tricks for making your own patchwork blocks. I kind of wish I’d had it when I’d started messing around with quilt designs.
For me there’s really no secret formula for how I do it, it’s just trial and error. I don’t even think of myself as a quilt designer because I think it does a disservice to those who are true designers. At the moment I’m just having fun playing and learning as I go (which is why DIY Block Design is so great as it has exercises built into it to help you take what you’re learning and put it into practice). One day when I “grow up” I may be able to call myself a designer, until then I’m having fun learning more about it with Alyce’s book.
To celebrate the release of her book Alyce is running a design challenge which you can participate with on Instagram. For the month of October Alyce has set a theme per week – inspiration, sketches, making, and finishes. The plan is that the weekly challenges will help to motivate you to keep working on your quilt design, but if you share your process for that week on Instagram using the tag #mydiyblockdesign, you will be entered into the weekly giveaway! Each week, there will be four winners, winning one of four charm packs provided by Alyce’s fabulous blog sponsors. Alice will then share those winners on Instagram (you can follow Alyce at @blossomheartquilts) plus announcing them on her blog every Sunday afternoon (Japan time). She’ll also talk about the next theme challenge in those posts. If you want to find out more about it click here.
Buy The Book
If you’d like to purchase a copy of DIY Block Design you can do so by clicking here; it’s currently on sale for AU$14.99 until October 7th. It’s not compulsory to have the book to participate in the Instagram challenge, but it will certainly help if you’re looking to hone those design skills.