Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Yet Another New Project That Isn't A Skirt: Anders' Modern Building Blocks Quilt

Anders' Modern Building Blocks, 70" x 96", drafted in EQ7
Look, I made a new quilt on the computer last night! This one is going to be for my soon-to-be-thirteen-year-old son, Anders.

Anders' Froggy Quilt of Many Colors, a dizzyingly busy I Spy novelty print quilt completed in 2003 for his third birthday, has seen better days:

Anders' Froggy Quilt of Many Colors, 2003

How I struggled to get those flying geese with practically perfect points!

The Embroidered Quilt Label
Ten years later, that frog quilt is looking awfully childish, and it's also literally disintegrating.  He needs a new bed quilt sooner rather than later, so add that to my LONG list of things to do...  And I can't take three years to make this new quilt, because the current bed quilt won't last that long. 

...And Another Quilt, Loved Literally to Death!
I haven't made him a new one yet because he was VERY ATTACHED to this one and every time I brought up the idea of making a new quilt, he got upset and declared (LOUDLY!) that he wanted to keep his frog quilt FOREVER.  But now that his thirteenth birthday is coming up (in three days!), he finally has conceded that his room needs an update for his teen years and it's time for a new quilt.

So, remember that Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt that everyone was buzzing about two years ago?  I admired it when I first saw it, but didn't consider making one because I didn't know what I'd do with it, plus I was up to my eyeballs in so many other quilts-in-progress at the time.  As usual.

Original Moda Modern Building Blocks Quilt, 84" x 96" at Quilt Market in 2014

In case you haven't seen this quilt before, it was a wildly popular pattern that Moda put out to promote their fabrics, and you can still get that pattern here if you want to make an 84" x 96" quilt like theirs.  I liked this quilt when I first saw it, but it popped into my radar again recently because Greg over at Grey Dogwood Studio just posted photos of his finished version using Fig Tree fabrics with a few prints mixed in:

Isn't that gorgeous?  I love every quilt Greg makes, seriously.  The color palette of both versions of this quilt, the Moda original using all solids and the Fig Tree version with a few soft prints, is part of what makes it so interesting -- these aren't super bright primary colors, but they aren't quite pastels, either.  Anyway, this color palette isn't going to work for my son's room because he is adamant about keeping his dark green walls and the red-framed red-eyed tree frog painting that my mom made for him, and I am adamant about not changing the expensive hand printed Italian wallpaper in his bathroom (I know, what was I thinking, right?  It's an occupational hazard of being an interior designer.  I did have the paper sealed when it was installed, which is why is still looks great).

Anders' Bedroom in 2011, right after the bathroom wallpaper was installed
My idea for updating his room now that he's a teenager (as of this Saturday!) without changing it drastically is to paint over the juvenile wallpaper border and make it a wide navy blue stripe edged with narrower red stripes.  That, along with a new quilt in solid fabrics rather than novelty frog prints, should help the room "grow up" a little without Anders feeling like I totally changed everything.  So I had to alter the color palette of the Moda Modern Building Blocks quilt, but I also had to resize it to fit a twin bed.  I like to make my kids' quilts an XL Twin size, 96" long, because that way they wrap under the foot of the bed more securely and don't end up on the floor every morning from the Midnight Boogie or whatever these squirmy sleepers are doing.  And then a fringe benefit was that Anders' XL Froggy Quilt was just the right size for the XL Twin dorm bed at Davidson where he stayed for the Duke TiP Summer Center program this June.

The original Moda design calls for blocks that are all multiples of 6": 6", 12", 18", 24", 30", and 36".  By resizing the blocks to multiples of 5" instead, I was able to use the same blocks in the same layout, but the width of the finished quilt is reduced to 70" instead of 84".  Perfect for my twin bed.  Of course, shrinking all the blocks reduced the length of the quilt as well, so I added 8" striped borders to the top and bottom of the quilt to get the 96" length that I wanted.  Since I was changing the colors and the block sizes, I decided to redraft the entire quilt in my EQ7 software.  Added bonus: I had to learn how to do a "Custom Set Layout" in order to do this.  Quite a few of the blocks in this quilt were already in the EQ7 block library or in the supplemental Block Base library.  For others, I was able to find a similar block and edit it to look like the one in the Moda quilt (more good software skills practice).  However, as I was getting near the end of the quilt, recoloring it with Kona Solids as I went along, I was starting to get kind of a Scandinavian/Germanic folk art vibe that I liked, so I deliberately swapped out two of the larger blocks for others that better supported that concept.

My EQ7 XL Twin Version of Modern Building Blocks, 70" x 96"
It did take me quite awhile to resize, recreate and recolor this quilt in EQ7, but it was time that was well spent.  For one thing, I had to get the colors the way I wanted them before I bought or cut any fabric, because a quilt like this is difficult to rearrange once the blocks are made if you discover there's too much black in one area or too much blue somewhere else.  The blocks fit together almost like a jigsaw puzzle.  Another reason that I went to all this trouble in EQ7 is that it is very likely that, by changing my blocks from multiples of 6" to multiples of 5", I might find that the patches I need to cut for my blocks are no longer "Ruler Friendly" for rotary cutting.  Now that I've created the project in EQ7, I can easily print any or all of the blocks as templates or as foundation paper piecing patterns.  I can also continue to play around with recoloring (still not 100% sure about that salmon pink color) and/or swapping out blocks, saving each version of the quilt so I can compare all of them, all before spending a dime on fabric.  EQ7 also generates yardage requirements automatically, which is a VERY handy feature.  I am SO glad my husband and kids bought me this software -- one of the best gifts ever!

I'm linking up with:

Let’s Bee Social at

WOW WIP on Wednesday at

Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times

Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

Moving it Forward at Em’s Scrap Bag:

...And then, I'm going to get some work done, and THEN, I swear I'm going to cut out that SKIRT


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I have never been able to figure out EQ7!!! computer programs are not something I take to easily I still have it on my computer but rarely ever give it a try anymore. Have fun redoing your son's room - once they hit 13 the years fly by even faster!

Marsha Cooper said...

You have been busy for sure!
I love the sampler and the colors in it for sure.

Gina said...

I love my EQ for exactly the same reason. I haven't done a custom setting yet though. I tend to draw out the quilts I like in magazines. Keep all the designer details on the notecard and then I can get rid of the magazine when necessary. That way I get EQ practise and I get to store my patterns without taking up any space in my sewing room.

Rosa said...

Love your sampler and your dfabric combo.Stunning!

Janice Holton said...

Wow! There is so much to comment on this post, I don't know where to begin. First, you definitely have artistic DNA in your family! That painting your mom did is amazing! I am impressed at the way you go the extra mile to finish a design and learn what you need to learn. I tried to design just ONE block using the Word drawing tool and it took me forever! Of course, EQ7 probably makes all of that a lot easier, I suppose that's the point of owning it. :) And last but not least, your tweaked quilt design is going to be smashing! Have you showed it to your son or is it going to be a surprise? Oh, by the way, I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! See my August 9 post.

Pam @Threading My Way said...

Your son's froggy quilt has obviously been well loved. What more can you want when you make a quilt for someone else. I love I Spy quilts, but have never seen one as intricate as yours. I love the bright, bold colours.

Pam said...

You made Anders the most darling bedroom! I believe you said that you were an interior decorator at one time-you can certainly see that in this room. His old quilt is just darling but now that he is older, a new design is needed I believe. The Modern Building Blocks quilt with your color choices will be very striking.

em's scrapbag said...

Great plan for creating a more grown up room. I used one of those froggy prints in a quilt for my son. He is now 20. Where do the years go?

Wendy said...

What a fantastic room, just as it is. Looking forward to seeing the update! The quilt will be fabulous and I'm sure will be just as loved as the first one (which is still a keeper, for memory's sake, right?). Who needs a skirt when you can wear your comfies and quilt, right??? Wendy @

Mary Huey said...

It's hard to let go a well-loved quilt but hopefully the new one will be treated with the same zeal!

Tracy said...

I just put my version of the Modern Building Blocks sampler on my bed this week. I did mine in Cherrywood fabrics, the colors are muted, but the sueded texture is pretty. My son, who turns 19 in two days, had a much loved quilt on his bed too. Its tough to change the worn quilts out, but I feel if they know its made with love for them, well, its like getting another hug from you.

Kate said...

How cool that your son kept his quilt for so long. Drama Teen declared at 10 that she needed a room update and wanted to get rid of the quilt that she so desired at 6. I love EQ for all of the reasons you stated. It's so helpful to get the pattern right before you buy the fabric or start cutting.