Archive for November, 2008

When you sit down with EQ to design a new quilt, how do you color it? Do you always use fabric swatches? Do you ever use solid colors? For either choice, do you pick colors randomly or do you have a color palette in mind?

I’m imagining that your answers might skew more to fabric swatches than solids. With all the wonderful fabric collections we’re bombarded with every year, designers and manufacturers are making it easier and easier (almost brainless) to put together stunning quilts. I’ve owned EQ since version 4 and have been a member of the Info-EQ discussion list all these years (and if you’re using EQ and not a member of the list, you’re missing out: go here and sign up: http://www.electricquilt.com/Users/FunStuff/InfoEQ/InfoEQ.asp) and the only time I remember seeing anyone talk about EQ’s “add custom colors” feature is when I brought it up. Am I the only one who has tried this? If you haven’t, read on. While it might be a little geeky, this could be something very helpful for you.

Here’s the geeky part: color systems on computers are assigned numbers in order to display and/or print properly. That might not be the technical explanation, but hopefully I’ll be able to make this understandable for everyone. There are the “RGB” numbers (red-green-blue) and “CMYK” numbers (cyan-magenta-yellow-black). There are other color numbering systems (like hexadecimal for web use) but since EQ uses RGB numbers, that’s all we need to talk about here. RGB colors are made up of percentages of red, green and blue although the 3 numbers are not the percentages themselves, you’ll see that the numbers do not add up to 100%.

There is a neat website by Adobe Labs called “kuler.” I thought it was pronounced “color” because, well duh, it’s all about creating color palettes, but the woman in the online video tutorial pronounces it “kooler.” Go figure. Go check it out: http://kuler.adobe.com/. Here you can view and download color palettes created by designers, although anyone can create palettes and post them. I went looking for a pleasing palette to try in EQ. I found one called “Future Bridges” that looked nice.  You need to be able to load your palette into a graphics program in order to find out what the RGB numbers are.  I know you can use the palettes in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements (Adobe products), what I don’t know is if you can use them in Paint Shop Pro, Gimp or other graphics programs like Irfanview.

After importing the swatches into Photoshop, I created a graphic to display them and record their RGB numbers (for the purposes of this tutorial) which I’ll need in EQ:


That’s a nice warm palette, isn’t it?

So now, armed with my numbers, I started a new project called “Create Custom Colors.”

Step 1, open sketchbook and click on the “Colors” tab. There are 302 default colors in the EQ6 palette and if you’d like, you can delete them all so that you can concentrate on just the colors that you’re going to create. I checked with EQ support and I’m told that they have to be deleted one at a time and deleting them is not recommended. So in this tutorial we’re going to leave them alone. The new colors will show up in the sketchbook at the end of the pastel colors, so it shouldn’t be hard to find them when we need to color our block/quilt.

2. Right click inside the color swatches and choose “Add color.”  You should see this box:


Click on “Define Custom Colors” and the box should expand to this:


Click on the first white box under “Custom Colors” on the left and you’ll see the Red, Green and Blue boxes on the right fill with the number “255.” 255-255-255 is the RGB number for white. Let’s create our first color. Replace the 255 with 206 in the “Red” box, 189 in the “Green” box and 101 in the “Blue box. As you tab out of each box you’ll notice the slider on the color picker move around as it locates the numbers. We now have that gold color. Click on “Add to Custom Colors” and that first white box will fill with the gold color.

3. Repeat step 2 with the next white box and input the numbers for the dark green swatch and so on, until you have all five custom colors in the lineup. Click “OK.” Your 5 new colors will show up at the end of the default colors in the sketchbook.

4. Please note that there is no way to save these colors into a library for use in other projects, except to color a block with them and save the block in a library. However, testing shows that about all the help that will give you is a place to store the color numbers (on the notecard) along with the visual representation of the colors. If you use the eyedropper on the colors, EQ6 won’t put your custom swatch in the sketchbook, it will take you to the closest swatch in the default palette. You’ll have to create the custom swatches from scratch in each new project.  UPDATE: Barb Vlack points out that there is a better way. The colors in the sketchbook can be sorted manually to put your custom colors to the front of the swatches and then saved as the default. That way they will be readily available for future projects. Thanks Barb!

5. Now play! Here is a block I colored with the Future Bridges palette:


And here’s a simple quilt:



So what do you think? Does this have any potential for you? Would it have more potential if Electric Quilt were to enhance this process in a future version? In what way? Post a comment!



P.S. Here’s another palette. Show me what you can do with this.


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Happy Thanksgiving!

To my family far away and friends near and far, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope you’re able to spend the day with those you love. Our son-in-law Kevin is stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio for basic training and will be away from his bride until after Christmas. 

I love this commercial:


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Old man Winter


Huh? In the middle of November? I heard on the radio this morning that it’s snowing in Dinwiddie, which is about 30-some-odd miles southeast of here. Saw on the web that it’s snowing or flurrying in Louisa, which is a tad west of us so if we’re going to get any of this, it’ll come from there.

I just ran out to get the newspaper and the sky certainly looks like snow but it’s dry out (and cold!). Whatcha bet this event passes us by?


Update: flurries! Woohoo!



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church-choir-clip-artI am a church singer. Alto. I’m not a soloist but I do ok in a group. I’m proud to be a church singer, the experience has exposed me to a lot of beautiful music I probably would never have heard otherwise. 

Next month, we are performing this:


It’s a doozy. Besides a lot of clashing notes with the other parts, one of the pieces in particular is really FAST and it’s a challenge to get the words out at the same time as the notes. Add to that the fact that a lot of it is written in Olde English, holy cow! Not for the faint of heart LOL.

It has been translated into German and John and I got a laugh when we saw this in one of the lines:


and then I laughed again when I saw this:


(my maiden name is Hoff). So I suppose we were meant to sing this one.

If you are a choral singer, you should check out this website:


It is so helpful if you need to learn your part. True, you can always learn your part on a piano if you have one, but this site will play your part prominently with the other parts kind of in the background if you need to be able to follow along that way. It will play your part by itself, too. There are tons of choral pieces available.


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Storm clouds

So I ran over to WalMart this afternoon to pick up a few things and when I came out of the store, this is what I saw:


John had told me earlier that we were under a tornado watch today and these clouds certainly looked threatening enough for that. But so far, nothing that I’m aware of. I had some rain on the way home but it wasn’t as much as you’d think we’d get.



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Putt-putt for United Way


We had a putt-putt tournament at the agency the other day to benefit United Way. This was a lot of fun. It was a 9-hole course and each hole was concepted and built by department teams all over the building. Quite a bit of engineering went into these designs. For example, the Media team built theirs at the top of the curved staircase in the lobby. You had to hit your ball up a steep ramp and if you did it right, it went into a miles-long plastic tube (the kind you use for landscape drainage) and it went down the stairs and curved around into a little area at the bottom of the stairs that is just perfect for this.


Here’s Boz and Paul putting the finishing touches on it.




The Accounting department created a Las Vegas casino-themed hole. I think they won first prize for creativity.

Account Management designed theirs with some of our clients in mind. Overseeing the hole is one of the GEICO Cavemen (with Hanes undies on his head for some reason), UPS shipping boxes, a BF Goodrich tire and a Hanes bra. Ok, they’re suits, not creatives, all right? 


I’m thinking this was a Hollywood theme but I didn’t know the people on this team and didn’t ask. Media and creatives rarely interact 🙂


A lot of beer was consumed, we had a lot of laughs and there was a lot of public humiliation. All for charity. Sweet.



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Scalloped potatoes

Our favorite family cookbook is out of print. Published in 1969 by the Knudsen Corporation, a dairy company in Los Angeles, the recipes in Cooking for Compliments focus on dairy products (naturally) and there isn’t one I’ve tried that we haven’t liked. From time to time my daughter, the new bride, will ask for a recipe so I will post them here. Keep in mind that they are all high in fat because 1969 was well before we knew better. I substitute low-fat versions.

Sour Cream Scalloped Potatoes

2 lbs boiling potatoes, pared and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 recipe Basic Sour Cream Sauce (below)
1/8 tsp paprika
1 cup Buttered Bread Crumbs (double the recipe below)

1. Gently parboil potato and onion in salted water to cover until just tender, about 5 or 10 minutes. Drain.
2. Prepare Basic Sour Cream Sauce and add paprika.
3. Layer half the potato-onion mixture and half the sauce in an 11x7x2″ baking dish. Repeat with remaining halves. Sprinkle with crumbs.
4. Bake uncovered at 350F, 30 minutes or until potatoes are very tender and sauce is bubbling.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Basic Sour Cream Sauce

2 tbsp (1/4 stick) butter or margarine
2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using broth)
Dash cayenne pepper
1 cup milk or 1 cup chicken broth
1 cup (1/2 pint) sour cream, at room temperature

1. On medium heat, melt butter in stainless steel, enamel or glass saucepan. Stir in flour and cook until bubbly.
2. Add milk or broth all at once and cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Stir in seasonings.
3. Empty sour cream into medium bowl; gradually add hot sauce stirring constantly (to prevent curdling).
4. Return to pan and heat gently to serving temperature. Taste and correct seasonings if needed.

Makes 2 cups sauce.

Buttered Bread Crumbs

1 slice bread
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1 tbsp minced parsley (optional)

1. Tear bread into blender jar or food processor; blend until crumbly.
2. Melt butter in fry pan over medium heat; toss crumbs in butter until lightly browned. Remove from heat and add parsley.

Makes 1/2 cup buttered crumbs.



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Weekend grab bag

Just a little silliness before the work week starts up again:



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I went to Quilting Adventures yesterday intending to buy one of the five Electric Quilt’s “Quiltmaker Quilting Designs” software packages, but they aren’t carrying any of them at the moment. So instead, I bought Angie Padilla’s “EQ6 Applique Drawing.” Am I glad I did. Besides all of the wonderful tips and insight Angie has about drawing applique patches, she introduced me to the Freehand Drawing Tool.

You’ll find this tool on any of the PatchDraw blocks that have an “applique” tab. One of the reasons I bought a Wacom Bamboo tablet and pen was to aid my drawing in EQ. I still have a lot of practicing to do but at least it’s more comfortable and natural to draw with the Wacom pen than a mouse.

The thing about the Freehand Drawing Tool is that you need to keep your pen to the “paper” throughout your entire design. I suppose you might be able to join nodes if you sneezed and the pen jumped or something, I’ll have to get back to you on that. I practiced by signing my name (I always seem to use my name during testing). I had to use trial and error to get the right number of nodes to make my curves smooth. But I was successful and I saved it as a stencil design.

Here is a quilt with my new quilting design in the borders (click on it to see it better:



My next test project is to trace a continuous-line design with this tool and see how I do.

Stay tuned!


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I read that line in a detective novel of all places, but it describes me to a “T” (and where does that saying come from, I wonder?). I must have some kind of cerebral short circuit that doesn’t allow me to imagine what something could look like without seeing it. That’s why I’ll never be a real designer, I suppose.

Electric Quilt was made for someone like me, I’m certain of it. One reason I bought it was for the ability to scan fabrics and audition them in a virtual quilt to avoid making costly mistakes. The software is just so much more than that and I still haven’t explored it fully. Again, it’s because I can’t imagine what all it can do until someone shows me.

Case in point: a recent discussion thread on the Info-EQ list focused on creating quilting designs. This email list doesn’t allow attachments, so they couldn’t show pictures to illustrate the directions, only words. Of course, I couldn’t picture the outcome of each step , so I set out to try it myself. I need to clarify that I am running EQ6 under Windows XP and Parallels on a MacBook Pro.

The challenge: create a quilting design for Carpenter’s Wheel block, simulating stitching inside the seam lines of each unit of the block. The solution: treat it like you would create applique patches, but export the CW block as an image, and import it back in to use as a placement guide for the “patch” units which will become a motif/stencil.

This solution is from Patti Anderson, one of the amazing Electric Quilt teachers and authors extraordinaire. Patti is my polar opposite. She was not afflicted with the short circuit; she can see designs first, figure out how to draw them in EQ and teach the rest of us how to do them. She remembers much more from geometry class than I ever will. But I think I did things a little differently than Patti intended because some of her directions don’t seem to correspond to the block I worked with. It could be that she started with a different variety of Carpenter’s Wheel or that her vision of the quilting design was different than mine. She did state that the steps were based on how she’d do it.

So I opened up a new project and went to the block library and did a search on “Carpenter’s Wheel.” EQ6 found 4 of them (I don’t have Blockbase so these are found in the basic EQ6 libraries). I chose one of them and per Patti’s instruction, colored it with lighter colors so that the patches I drew would show up better. Export block as image:


I then started a new PatchDraw motif block and imported the image for tracing. On the applique tab, I drew a diamond using the 45degree diamond drawing tool in one of the corresponding units. I tried to size it to simulate stitching 1/4″ inside the seams but I had problems getting it to the correct angle. I didn’t get it perfect, but it was acceptable. I had to turn off all the snapping options which were hindering me. Then I copied it and pasted it into each of the diamonds angled that same way. I copied it again and flipped it vertically and pasted it into the diamonds corresponding to that angle. I had to do some more copying, flipping and pasting to finish out the diamonds. The squares and right triangles were easier. I saved it to the sketchbook as a motif and then moved it to the stencil tab. I don’t think that part was absolutely necessary but it is an option.

I created a quilt from the Carpenter’s Wheel block, colored it with fabric, applied my new stencil to Layer 3, colored the thread and changed the stitching lines to something you can see:


Here’s what the stencil looks like with the underlying Layer 1 turned off. You can see that my diamonds are a little wonky but for this exercise, the whole purpose is so that I can see what this particular quilting design would look like and to audition thread colors, not to create templates with. I could have also drawn my own diamonds but Patti’s way is faster.


I welcome comments on this because I am world-famous for doing things the hard way when left to my own devices 🙂


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