Oct. 28, 2014

Barbara Brackman and her historical Block of the Week

Barbara Brackman is a quilt historian and author. She has written books on quilting during the Civil War including Facts and Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery and Quilts From the Civil War. Her Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns contains more than 4000 pieced quilt patterns, gathered from printed sources published between 1830 and 1970. (EQ’s BlockBase is based on Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.) She has many other books, including her newest, Emporia Rose: Applique Quilts.

Barbara also has a free block weekly on her blog along with historical information and stories.

  Barbara says, “I have been reading Jane Austen biographies for several years, trying to figure out what it was like to live in England about 1800. I realized how much Austen’s life and her family influenced her novels so I thought I’d do a block of the week in 2014 with a little history about the Austens and their times each week.

I use BlockBase for the pattern instructions (blocks on the Austen blog are 12″.) Some readers choose to do a different block size, so I give them the BlockBase number for each weekly block and they can print out instructions for 9″ blocks or 4″ blocks.

I have always been interested in quilt patterns, the wide variety and their history. For many years I did a regular feature for Quilters Newsletter Magazine about patterns. Back then I used my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns to find the blocks named for states or for brides, etc. Now I often do a block-of-the-month for my guild and my classes using BlockBase. With the blogosphere I can do a block of the week like the Austen Family Album and reach a world wide audience. 

For the Austen Family Album I pick a family member like Jane’s sister Cass or her niece Fanny and then do a word search in BlockBase for names like “sister” or “Fanny.” There are many perfect blocks (all named later than Jane’s era) like Queen Charlotte’s Crown and Village Square that keep with the theme. We are doing 36 blocks, which will end in December, but I will leave the posts up for several years so readers can join any time.

I love looking at our Flickr page every week to see what the Austen Family Album community is doing with the blocks. Amazing what they come up with. 

I am lucky enough to have several friends making up the blocks in various fabric themes.” 

One friend of Barbara’s, Becky Brown, is using one of Barbara’s Moda reproduction lines, Ladies’ Album for her blocks.


Barbara’s websites and books have so much great historical information and quilting history within them. I was browsing around myself and need to go back and read more. I’m hooked!

Oct. 27, 2014

Check out International Quilt Festival in Houston!

Oct. 24, 2014

500 Foundation Kaleidoscope Blocks!

Get this amazing Kaleidoscope Collection block library for EQ7 at 20% off! Print the blocks as they are, or design with them in EQ7!

Kaleidoscope Collection is a Windows CD-ROM, but can be used with EQ7 for Mac. Learn how.

Sale ends Saturday, October 25, 2014 at midnight EDT. Use code PAPERPIECE at checkout. 

Oct. 22, 2014

Using EQStitch for Quilting!

I had a lot of fun using EQStitch and my embroidery machine to quilt my most recent project – a baby quilt. I saw a similar baby quilt on Pinterest and thought it would be the perfect project for quilting, block by block in the hoop, using my embroidery machine.

“Welcome Baby” quilted using EQStitch and my embroidery machine

I’m not totally sure why I thought this…because I thought it would be easy to find the center of a 4-inch square because it’s plain? Because I figured it would be a lot easier to handle the size of a baby quilt than something larger? Whatever the original thought, it turned out to be super easy AND super fun.

If you like, you can download the EQStitch project or the EQ7 project and check it out.

I assembled the top and the back and sprayed and pinned my quilt sandwich together. I was ready to start the quilting. Since I had a bit of a star theme going with the front, I decided on Sky Diamond Variation 3 from Quilting Designs Volume 7. I added this design to my Sketchbook and edited it to the Block worktable. When I copied and pasted the block to the Stitching worktable, I didn’t love the way that the block stitched when I simulated the stitching. It would stitch one star and then “jump” to the next. I could see that changing the stitching order would allow me to start the stitching in the center of the design and to complete it in one continuous stitching pattern.

So I went back to the Artwork tab and converted the drawing to guides. With the Line tool it was easy to trace the design in the order that I wanted it to stitch.

This is a simulation of my new stitching pattern. Starts in the center and ends in the center.

I applied a Run stitch with a stitch length of 2.8 mms. I saved the design to my project and exported the file for my Janome machine. I would hoop the quilt sandwich taking care to make sure it was secure yet not too tight as to cause “hoop burn” to my fabric. Each design took just over 2 minutes and about 310 stitches. Then I would reposition the hoop on another square and stitch. Easy! (My son stopped over one evening and was witnessing the process. He said that he thought I was cheating…..not really quilting…..he’s not a quilter – obviously!)

Once the quilting and binding were done, I was ready to work on the label. I created a horizontal one-by-one quilt with no borders and used the applique text tool for my wording. I used File > Export Image to create a JPG file of the label. Then I went to the Image worktable and imported the JPG and used EQ to print it to my printable fabric. I decided it would be fun to add a simple machine applique star to the label. Sky Diamond Variation 2 from Quilting Designs Volume 7 only needed to be resized and I was ready to stitch.

Here’s my label plus you can see the stars in the quilting more easily on the back.

I’m thinking that the baby quilts in my future will be quilted using EQStitch, even if it is it cheating. I hope to improve my skills at fabric selection. I find that selecting fabrics is SO difficult for me. Dean (EQ President, EQ programmer, my boss!) once told me that he had helped his daughter with a school project that involved the use of cardboard. Sometime afterwards he overheard his daughter telling one of her little girlfriends that her dad was a genius with cardboard! I think that Margaret Okuley (EQ employee and head quilter) is a genius with fabric. I’ve been picking her brain about fabric selection. I’m lucky to have access to her insight and experience.

So here I am with my finished quilt doing “show and tell” at the EQ office. I was happy with the results and know that my niece will appreciate the gift. Hopefully I’ll get to see this quilt wrapped around a newborn baby this Christmas.

Oct. 21, 2014

Over 30 FREE Project Downloads!

We’ve collected and posted the EQ7 projects that were submitted to the Quilted in Honor design challenge. Download them all for FREE!

Get the three winning designs and so many more! Thanks again to all of the participants!

DarleneGerber JoMoury SusanPolan

View and download the Quilted in Honor quilts here!

Oct. 21, 2014

Quiltmaker’s Popular 100 Blocks Series on Sale

Oct. 16, 2014

Quilt Transformation Thanks to EQ7!

Elizabeth Phillips of Island Batik recently sent us a great EQ story.

Elizabeth says, “About 7 years ago I took a mystery quilt class. You only needed 3 fabrics. I was fairly new to quilting and really excited about the class. You can imagine my disappointment after making 20 blocks in class when the project was revealed. I almost died because I thought it was it was so plain and so boring.  I had spent all that money on fabric and the class. I must say EQ really came to my rescue. I used the symmetry tool. It’s the same block design, the same number of blocks and the same layout, they are just alternately rotated. This is top of mind with me lately as recently  I have been going through UFOs and finishing them. This project was one of those UFOs. You can see the miraculous transformation.”
Reworked using the Symmetry Tool With Quilting Added

Thanks to Elizabeth for sharing! We are glad EQ could help :)