My experience with teaching quilting and machine embroidery over the years is that the simplest projects are liked the best by the students.  When I present a challenging lesson or a lesson with lots of steps to create amazing designs, I often don’t get people excited about the whole process.  When I give them something incredibly simple and quick to create, they O0h and Ahh over it for months afterward.

I like to be challenged to learn more, do better, get more creative, and try things I would normally never do.  I don’t care to repeat the same process more than once because I get easily bored.  The more I have to work to get the results I want, the more I am learning during the process.  That does not mean that I can’t appreciate quick and easy projects.

Open your EQ8 and name a new project called ‘Precuts and Limitless Fabrics’.  Click OK when done.

The name of the project should now occur at the top of the screen.

When I teach at a large event, I am often given gifts of fat quarters, layer cakes, jelly rolls, and charm packs.  I often don’t know what to do with these.  But, if you look at them critically, they can all be cut into sizes that go together well.  I can use the charm pack (5-inch squares) with the 2.5-inch strips of the jelly roll.  If I need more pieces, I can cut the 10-inch layer cakes into 4 pieces that measure 5 inches square.  A fat quarter can get me many cuts that would work together with the other precuts with the minimum of cutting.  The less cutting I have to do, the quicker I can get to my designing and sewing.

EQ8 lets us keep these precut sizes in mind and we can create blocks that will easily use these precut measurements. Remember, when designing in EQ we are designing using the finished measurements and not the cut size of the fabric pieces. We can also open a fabric library that has seemingly limitless color options in the fabric palette to design with.  Marrying the precut sizes with the fabrics in the EQ8 library has me off and running quickly.

Click on LIBRARIES>Fabric Library at the top of the screen.

In the library box, click on the + sign in front of ‘manufacturer basics’.  Scroll down and click on the collection called ‘Hoffman Bali 1′.  Click on the icon ‘select all fabrics’ and then click on the icon ‘add to sketchbook’ in the box.  There are 250 fabrics in this one line!  That gives me more than enough colors to play with when designing.  Close the box when done.

Click on the block worktable icon at the upper right side of the screen.

Click on NEW BLOCK>Pieced>EasyDraw

At the top of the block worktable, set the properties of this block to be 10 inches for the height and width with the snaps at 20 horizontal and vertical. This will give you snap points at every 1/2 inch of the drawing board.   Make sure the snapping options are turned on.  They are on when there is a blue box behind the icons.

Using the drawing tools, click on the grid icon on the left side of the screen.  Set the grid properties to be 5 by 5. For a 10 inch block, each of the divisions will measure 2 inches finished.  (NOTE:  A 2.5-inch jelly roll strip measures 2.5 inches but finishes at 2 inches.)

Move the cursor over to the worktable and starting at the upper left corner of the block, click/hold/drag/release the mouse to the lower right corner to create a grid pattern on the 10-inch block.

Add to sketchbook 

Once you add the design to the sketchbook, you will see nodes at all the intersections of the lines.  This makes it easy to delete segments and create new pattern designs.

Click on the color tab at the top of the screen and select the fabric tools from the ribbon and then select the paintbrush tool.

Scroll to the end of the fabrics palette and you will see the 250 colors of the Hoffman Bali 1 fabrics we added.  Click on any one of the colors to start with and then move the cursor over to the worktable and click on the small square segments to color the block.  Keep adding color until you are happy with your block layout.  Be sure to add each coloration to the sketchbook as you go.

Add to sketchbook 

This block works perfectly with your 2.5-inch jellyroll strips.  By changing the coloration of the segments, you can get several different looks for your blocks.

Create another block that would use the 5-inch charm square packs.  Remember that EQ designs the blocks as a finished block.  Therefore, you would create a design that is 4.5 inches finished to be able to use your 5-inch charm packs.

Still working on the block worktable, click on the NEW BLOCK>Pieced>EasyDraw.

Click on the draw tab at the top of the screen and change the size of the block properties to be 9 x 9 inches with snaps set to 18 x 18.

Click the grid tool to select it and set the grid size to be 2 x 2.  Move the cursor over to the drawing board and start at the upper left corner of the block and click/hold/drag/release a grid to the lower right corner.

Add to sketchbook 

Note that the new block segments are showing at 4.5 inches square, but we know we need a 5 inch square of fabric to create a finished 4.5-inch square.  This is the perfect use of the charm square packets.

Click on the color tab at the top of the screen and use the paintbrush tool to select colors for your block pieces and click on each of the areas to fill in the colors of your choice.

Add to sketchbook 

Click on the quilt worktable icon on the upper right side of the screen.  Choose NEW QUILT>Horizontal.

Click on the layout tab at the top of the screen and set the number of blocks to be 1 x 1 and the size of the blocks to be 9 x 9.

Click on the borders tab at the top of the screen and change the size of the borders to be 2 inches on all sides.  We can use our 2.5-inch jelly roll strips to create the 2 inches finished border edges for the blocks we created with the 5-inch charm packs precut fabrics.

Click on the Design tab and select the fabric tools icon from the ribbon at the top of the screen.  Select the paintbrush tool and select colors of your choice to finish coloring your block.

Add to sketchbook 

By thinking ahead about the fabric sizes we are going to use to create our designs, we can then use the power of EQ8 to design blocks that will use those sizes of fabrics.

Continue playing with your EQ8 and see what other designs you can accomplish.  Remember, there is more than one way to create your blocks and borders.  Think through the design process and see what other ways you can create blocks that use the fabric sizes you have at hand.

Below is an example of a 13-inch block all created on the block worktable, with 5-inch charm squares for the center of the block and 2.5-inch strips for the outer edge of the block.