Tracing images can be tricky. It’s hard to think ahead and make sure that everything drawn on the screen is piecable at the sewing machine. With some practice, it gets easier to create incredible paper-piecing and applique blocks by tracing images.

When I was younger I remember going to sewing events most Saturdays with my grandma. Some weeks it was machine embroidery club, block of the month, or just going to a quilt shop to socialize. One week at embroidery club, they showed how to make fabric post cards. I don’t remember much else about the meeting other than the fact that I liked this idea and wanted to make my own. Several years later, my grandma and I took a class at our local quilt shop that taught us how to take the concepts of art quilting and use that to make cards. I have taken what I learned in that class along with everything else I have learned and started making both post cards and artist trading cards. An artist trading card is a piece of art the size of a baseball card that you swap with other artists. They can be sewn, painted, or drawn, the only rules are that they are handmade.

I’ve put together a lesson that goes over the basics of image tracing. If you follow along, at the end you will be ready to make your own artist trading card, or go on the make bigger more complex blocks using image tracing.

Before you start, you’ll want to find an image that you would like to use for this project. I am using an image of a flower.

You can download this image here and follow along.

  • Open the program
  • Close the Tip of the Day

  • Name the new project “Artist Trading Card”

  • Open the Block Worktable 
  • Create a new EasyDraw + PatchDraw block
  • Set the Block Width to 2.5, Height to 3.5, Snaps Horizontal to 20, Vertical 28

  • You will also want to turn off Snap to Grid, but turn on Snap to Nodes & Snap to Lines

  • Open the Tracing Image Tab

  • Click the Upload Image button 
  • Choose the image you want to use for this project
  • Once you pick the image to open, an edit dialog will open. Here you will want to crop your image down. After you crop your image down to what you want, click okay to close the dialog box.

  • Click and the image will place into the size of the block.

I decided to stretch my image to fix the entire height of the card. You can choose to edit the photo however you’d like.

  • Click the stretch to fit button.

  • Once you’re happy with how your image looks, go back to the EasyDraw tab.

It is important when drawing a paper piecing pattern that everything is piecable. It’s easy to draw lines, but it’s more challenging to draw lines in places that can be sewn.

The first line needs to go from edge to edge (at least in this case).

For this step I am ignoring the stem and center of the flower.

When I start tracing an image I always look for a place to cut the image in half.

Using the line tool, I draw a line across the image where I think that half way line should be.

Once I get this first line, the entire block is now split into two mini blocks. No other lines can cross this first line.

For this block I decided to split each of the halves into thirds.

These are going to be my final sections, so now I will be forming how I want each section to be put together. It’s important that you continuously check to make sure the lines are snapping where you want them to. If they aren’t placed in a way that will be able to be sewn, the lines will disappear in the color tab.

Since an artist trading card is so small, I took out quite a bit of detail. If I was drawing this for a large block or a free standing wall hanging, I would have gotten as much detail as I could. Such as in the block below.

  • Click the Color tab to start bringing the block to life.

Now I am going to add in the stem and flower’s center.

  • Click the Applique Tab

  • I used the Ellipse tool  the create the flower center
  • Last, I used the Rectangle tool  to make the stem.
  • Color the applique pieces.

To construct the artist trading card, we will need to print out the foundation pieces and the applique templates.

  • Choose print Foundation Pattern.

  • The Foundation Pattern print dialog will open. Click the Options Tab and change the height and width to match the size of the block we created.

  • Next we will move to the Section tab

This is where the sections I mentioned earlier are important.

We want to make sure that all the pieces get put into their proper section.

For this step, you also want to ignore the applique.

Note: When you are drawing large or complex blocks, it is useful to print out the block outline to help see what needs to go in each section. It is also helpful to add the block to the Sketchbook before drawing the applique if the block is large. As long as you don’t change any of the piecing lines, you can use the block without the applique on top to create your foundation pieces.

  • When you have the patches selected that you want in the first section, press Group. Repeat this process for the rest of the sections.

If you click a piece by mistake, hold shift and click that piece to deselect it.

  • Once you create all of sections, move to the Numbering tab.

EQ7 will number the section pieces for you. Sometimes it is good numbering, and sometimes it needs to be changed. In my block, the numbering needs changed for some sections.

  • Click on the patches in each section in the order you want them to be.

It is helpful to have a knowledge of paper piecing before creating blocks that need renumbered. You can create very simple paper piecing patterns and that will help get a base knowledge of making sure that the section is piecable.

Each of my sections is pretty simple, I will explain why I numbered it this way.

This is a zoomed in image of section A. If piece A3 was first, after piece A2 was attached, you would have to create a “Y” seam to attach section A1 in the image. The goal is to have no “Y” seams. If there are places that you cannot sew a straight seam, go back and redraw the section.

Once everything is sectioned and numbered, it is time to print the foundations.

  • Click Preview

Once the preview window is open, we will move the sections around to make sure nothing is overlapping.

  • Click Move on the top menu.

Once you click this, you can reposition the foundation pieces around the page.

  • Click a section and a red outline will appear, you can then drag around the section until it is in the final place you want it to be.
  • Repeat this for all of the sections.

On bigger blocks, the foundations will extend over several sheets of paper, you can rearrange them and make sure that you don’t have to piece section foundation papers and to reduce the amount of paper that the block prints on. The blanks sheets of paper won’t go away in the preview, but they will not print.

  • Click Print.

The Print Preview window will close

Now we need to print the templates for the applique pieces.

  • Click Print Templates

The Print Templates Dialog Box will open.

  • Change the block size to that in the Block Worktable and turn off the Print Seam Allowance feature.
  • Click Preview.

We don’t need the templates for the pieced section (unless you want to cut your fabric down before starting).

  • Click Delete. 
  • When you click on a piece, it outlines it in red. Click Delete on your keyboard to delete the template piece. Repeat this for every template you do not want to print.
  • Click Print.

Now you have all the pieces you need to create an artist trading card of your very own. All you need is fabric.

Use basic paper-piecing techniques to put your block together.

  • First collect your fabric, and cut out your foundation pieces.

  • Construct each section of the block.

  • Construct each half of the block, and then connect the halves.

  • Once you complete the block, tear the papers out and cut out your applique pieces.

  • Put on the applique and choose a way to back it; either with a stiff fusible, or by making it into a mini quilt.

Once you learn more about tracing images you can create large and complex paper-piecing and applique blocks. Below are a few designs I have made that might spark some inspiration.

What do you create with the Image Tracing tools? Show us what you’ve created in the comments!