I frequently get asked questions about designing patterns and although I’ve only been sharing patterns online for about a year, I’d love to give a little insight into the design process. An integral part of the design process for me is the Electric Quilt software. I purchased EQ7 about a year ago (and have since upgraded to EQ8) and it’s been a game changer for me! I feel like I can quickly design patterns, easily change up color schemes, and export professional looking images.
Today, I want to share a quick tutorial on the basics of how to design a foundation paper pieced pattern in EQ8. I think a lot of you will be surprised at how easy it is–especially when dealing with straightforward, classic blocks like the Courthouse Steps block I demonstrate below. Make sure you read through to the very end, though. I might just have another fun freebie plus a coupon code for EQ8 to share with you! Okay, let’s get started.
When you open EQ8, you have the option of looking at the Quilt Worktable or the Block Worktable. For foundation paper piecing patterns, I’m almost always on the Block Worktable since I’m dealing with individual blocks instead of full quilts. Below, you can see a screenshot of EQ8 on the Block Worktable. I’ve already set my block size to 3.5″ x 3.5″ and adjusted the graph lines to fit every quarter inch.
Creating a block is as simple as making clicks with the mouse to draw the lines! You can see below that I started adding lines from the outside of the block and worked in, adding new lines every half inch to create a classic Courthouse Steps block.
Next, you can move from drawing the block to coloring in the block (my favorite part!). You can choose solid colors or EQ8 has hundreds of actual swatches of fabric for you to choose from. I’ve also customized my fabric library to include some of my favorite prints. You can download any jpeg image of fabric (many fabric manufacturers have jpeg files available on their websites) and upload it to your fabric library. This is an excellent way to test out fabric options before committing to sewing a specific colorway.
When you are all finished creating your foundation paper piecing pattern, you can move to the “Print & Export” tab and choose the “Foundation” button. If your block is simple enough, EQ8 even automatically adds in the correct order of numbers for you (how cool is that?!?). The FPP pattern pieces will print out with the 1/4 seam allowance around the outside edge and you can get to sewing right away!
See how simple? It does take a little getting used to knowing what tab or button to choose, but foundation paper piecing patterns of classic blocks like the Courthouse Steps block can be created in minutes!
For those who have been wanting to try out EQ8 (trust me, it’s worth the investment!) I have a coupon code for you! You can use code EQ8KRISTINA until June 30th for 20% off anything at electricquilt.com!
But that’s not all! (Do I sound like a game show host?!?). I also have a fun freebie to share. I turned the block I made for this tutorial into a free pattern! The Tiny Courthouse Steps FPP pattern is available for free on my Craftsy site HERE or for a small amount on Etsy HERE (unfortunately you can’t list items for free on Etsy, so I’ve listed it for a tiny amount just to cover the fees Etsy and Paypal charge). ***EDIT*** Craftsy has unfortunately dropped most of their patterns, so until I find an alternative place to share free patterns, the Tiny Courthouse Steps block pattern is just in my Etsy shop.
Now, I realize that you are perfectly capable of sewing the Courthouse Steps block together using traditional piecing methods. However, when dealing with such a tiny block (3.5″ square!), using fpp methods can be much faster and more accurate! The Tiny Courthouse Steps fpp block is super fast and fun to sew, plus you can use all of those tiny scraps you’ve been hoarding. 😉 If you make your own Tiny Courthouse Steps block, please share with me on facebook or instagram (use the hashtags #centerstreetquilts and #tinycourthousesteps so I can find your image). Happy sewing!