Thursday, September 26, 2019

How to Create a Custom Block Library in EQ8 for Accuquilt Qube Blocks, Step By Step

You guys, remember how in my last post I was wishing that the Electric Quilt software company would get together with the Accuquilt company to create a block library for EQ8 containing all of the 72 blocks that I can make with my Accuquilt Qube dies?  Well, I changed my mind.  I'm glad they DON'T have a library available to download, because creating my own Accuquilt block library in EQ8 has turned out to be a really good learning exercise.  I'm going to show you how to do it in today's post.


Disclaimer right up front: I have no affiliation with either the Accuquilt company or the Electric Quilt company.  I'm just a satisfied customer sharing what works well for me.  However, as disclosed elsewhere on this blog, I do participate in the Amazon Affiliates program.  If your local quilt shop sells Electric Quilt software and/or Accuquilt products, by all means -- support your LQS!  But if you choose to make purchases on Amazon via the links in my blog posts, I'll be compensated by Amazon for the referral at no additional cost to you.  Thanks for your support!)

To recap, Accuquilt GO! is a fabric die cutting system that significantly speeds up the process of cutting out quilt pieces while also delivering more accurate cuts than with template tracing or rotary cutting.  There are several different sizes available, with the biggest one motorized (great for those with arthritic hands).  Initially I'd bought the smallest cutter, the GO! Baby, but I recently upgraded to the regular size GO! pictured below so that I could use the larger dies that don't fit in the Baby sized machine.  Basically, the die cutters work the same way that cookie cutters work.  In the picture below, the gray rectangle with green sides has dies (very sharp cookie cutters that can cut cleanly through 6 layers of fabric) embedded in gray foam.  Your fabric is like the cookie dough, and as you crank the handle on the side of the machine, the die rectangle with fabric on top is pushed through the machine with that big roller bar (the "rolling pin" that says accuquilt on it) pressing down hard enough to make contact with the die blades and cleanly cut out your fabric shapes.


This is the Manual GO! Fabric Cutter I Purchased, available on Amazon here
The benefits of the GO! die cutting system are speed and accuracy.  The only downside is the high cost of the dies themselves and the fact that you can only cut shapes in the sizes that correlate to the dies in your collection.  This is very different from rotary cutting, where one ruler, one cutting mat and one rotary cutter is all you need to cut out almost any block you can imagine, in any size you want.  [NOTE to SELF: I just did a quick search on Etsy and found a couple of sellers who were offering pre-owned Accuquilt GO! dies at 40% below retail, such as the 12" Churn Dash block for $49.99 versus the $80 MSRP for a brand new one.  I need to remember to check there first, especially for those specialty dies that I might only use for one or two quilts!]

Another way to reduce the cost of building up a die collection is to purchase a bundled set.  The Accuquilt company recently introduced the Qube system whereby quilters can purchase an assortment of eight dies that can be combined to create a wide variety of quilt blocks of a certain size.  The Qube set that came with my Ready, Set, GO! starter kit creates 8" blocks, but I could also purchase the same Qube set of dies in sizes that will create 6", 9", 10", or 12" blocks.

These Are the Cutting Dies That Come in the 8 Inch Qube Set
Buying a bundled set of interchangeable dies in a Qube set is a good way to ensure that you have what you need to create lots of different quilt blocks -- 72 of which are depicted in the GO! Qube 72 Blocks PDF download.  There is also a significant savings involved when you purchase the dies bundled together in a Qube set versus buying each of those dies individually.  There are also two companion sets available for each Qube size, Angles and Corners, that allow you to create even more blocks with your Qube dies.

I plan all of my quilt projects in Electric Quilt software (currently EQ8).  In order to make it easier to plan quilts that will work with my Accuquilt die collection, I wanted to put all of those 72 Qube blocks into one folder or "block library" within my EQ software.  That way when I'm designing a quilt that needs to come together quickly and I want to use my GO! cutter, I can go straight to that one library in EQ8 and know that any quilts I design with these blocks can be cut out lickety-split with my GO! cutter using dies that I already own.

Copying Existing EQ8 Blocks Into a Custom Library in My Favorites










Want to create your own custom block library in EQ8?  Here's how to do it:

  1. First, you need to create that custom block library so you have somewhere to put your blocks.  Navigate to the Block Library within EQ, and click on My Favorites.
  2. Click Create Library.
  3. Type a name for your new library.  Mine is called Accuquilt Blocks.  Then you put how many "styles" or subfolders you want within that custom library folder.  You can always add more later if you need them.  I named my first Style subfolder Qube Blocks.
  4. Now it's time to hunt down those blocks!  I always try the Search feature first, because sometimes I get lucky and I already have the block I'm looking for, either in the standard Block Library that came with EQ8 or with one of my add-on libraries, such as the Blockbase libraries.  So I'll type in the block name, or part of the block name, and see if the Accuquilt Qube block I'm looking for comes up in my search results.  If it does, just click on that block in the block library so it's highlighted with a box around it, and then click on Copy at the lower left hand side of the Block Libraries window.  
  5. Now that you've copied your block, it's time to go back to the new library you created and paste it in.  Click on My Favorite Blocks in the upper left corner of the Block Library window, and you should see the Accuquilt library and the Qube Blocks subfolder (or whatever you named yours) highlighted.  Click Paste (lower left corner of the window), and you should see your block appear in the preview window for your new library.  Ta da!  Now -- very important -- click on Save Library at the lower left.
But what about those Qube blocks that are NOT already found in the EQ block library, or they might be there but you can't find them because they're listed under a different name, or maybe there's a very similar block in the EQ library but it's not identical to the ones you can cut out with your Qube dies?  For these blocks, it's best to create an EQ8 Project file where you can work on editing existing blocks and drawing new blocks from scratch, and then import them from the project file into your custom library.  

This Block Wasn't Already In My EQ8 Library, So I Drafted It Myself

Here are the steps for modifying existing EQ8 blocks, saving them to a Project Sketchbook, and then importing the new blocks into your custom block library:

  1. Create a new EQ project.  Mine is named Accuquilt Qube Designs.
  2. Open up the Block Library and locate a similar block to the one you're trying to recreate from the Accuquilt Qube 72 Blocks brochure.  Click on the block to highlight it like we did with the other block in step 4 above, but this time click on Edit to Block Worktable (near the top of the window).
  3. Now you see a vector line drawing of that block in EasyDraw mode, where you can select lines you don't need and delete them as well as draw new lines in order to create a block that looks just like the one in the Accuquilt pamphlet.   When you think you've finished, click on the Color tab at the top left side of your screen.
  4. For the purposes of what I'm doing today, I'm coloring my blocks just like they are colored in the Accuquilt pamphlet.  For one thing, it makes it easier for me to tell if I've recreated the block correctly -- sometimes I think I've got it but then I notice an error when I start coloring the block to match the pamphlet illustration.  Using the same colors as Accuquilt will also help me to locate the correct block quickly if I want to make one of the quilts in their brochure.  (Another reason to always color your blocks in Block Worktable before adding them to your project is that sometimes your lines don't meet exactly where they should and the software doesn't recognize that your line is supposed to be a seam between two patches.  This error is immediately obvious (and quickly corrected) when you click on the Color tab, because an incomplete seamline will result in adjacent patches that can't be colored with different fabrics).  Once the block is edited properly and colored to look like the block in the brochure, click on Add to Sketchbook (the red book with a blue plus sign, on the upper left side of the screen).
  5. At this point, your new block is in your Project Sketchbook and the block is available for you to use on any quilts that you are designing within that project file.  But we want to put the block in the custom block library we created so that we can access the block at any time, for any project we may be working on.  So go back to the Block Library and this time, click on My Favorites to bring up your custom Accuquilt library.  You should see any of the blocks you copied in previously (unless you forgot to click on Save Library)!  At the bottom of the window, click on Import because we want to import the block we created in step 4 FROM the project sketchbook TO the custom block library.  A window comes up showing your most recent EQ project files.  Double click on the project file that has your new block in it.
  6. Now you should be looking at a preview of all of the blocks in that project file.  Click on the new block you created to select it.
  7. Next, click on Notes (at the bottom of the window) and give your block a name.  If you skip this step and you don't name your block, it isn't going to come up in search results when you're looking for it some other day!  I'm naming these blocks with the same names that Accuquilt has given them.
  8. Click the X at the upper right corner of the Notes window to exit -- it saves automatically.  Now click your block again to select it, and click on Copy at the lower left corner of the window, just like we did in step 5 with the block that we copied from the EQ library.
  9. Just like before, it's time to go back to the new library you created and paste in the block that you copied.  Click on My Favorite Blocks in the upper left corner of the Block Library window, and you should see the Accuquilt library and the Qube Blocks subfolder (or whatever you named yours) highlighted.  Click Paste (lower left corner of the window), and you should see your block appear in the preview window for your new library.  Ta da!  Now -- very important -- click on Save Library at the lower left.
Creating the custom library for my Accuquilt Qube blocks is giving me good practice creating and saving to a custom library.  I tried making a custom fabric library once before but I wasn't looking at the manual, just clicking things and hoping I'd figure it out on my own.  The steps for creating a custom library are exactly the same whether it's a Block library or a Fabric library.  I can see myself wanting to create a custom fabric library containing all of my favorite Kona Solids, or all of my Kaffe Fassett prints, for instance.

Editing a Quilt Block With EasyDraw on the EQ8 Block Worktable
Also, editing these blocks in EasyDraw is giving me a great refresher and plenty of practice on the Block Worktable features.  Remember math class, how the teacher would demonstrate something in class and then assign homework so you could practice and reinforce at home?  Electric Quilt is easy like math is easy, but if someone shows you how to do something and you don't practice it right away, it's easy to forget if months or years go by before you sit down at your computer and try to remember "How the heck did we do that in class?"  

Coloring My Block With Fabric on the EQ Block Worktable
As of right now, I've got 39 of the 72 Accuquilt Qube blocks in my custom block library.  Like math homework, it gets easier and more automatic with each block.  I should point out that, although I'm creating this custom block library with my 8" Qube dies in mind, EQ software automatically resizes blocks to whatever size you want when you use them to design a quilt.  So this same block library that I've created for my 8" Qube can be used to design quilts using any of the other Qube block sizes that I might purchase in the future.  Sidenote -- I really wish that Accuquilt had allowed quilters to choose their own Qube block size for the Ready, Set, GO! bundle.  I would never have chosen 8" blocks.  I'd have either gone with 6" blocks, because those make better use of my small scraps, or else 12" blocks, because those would make up into faster quilt tops for longarm quilting practice and would showcase some of my larger scale prints really nicely.  Of course, different sized blocks can be combined in the same quilt, too, like the Moda Modern Building Blocks Sampler WIP that is calling my name...

I'm headed to Appalachian State this weekend to visit Lars-of-Ours, but first I'm linking up with:

WEDNESDAY

·       Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

THURSDAY

·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  

FRIDAY

·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
·       Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty

·       TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here: http://tgiffriday.blogspot.ca/p/hosting-tgiff.html  

SATURDAY


·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland

4 comments:

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca! I am just SO darn impressed with this whole idea. I'm new to the EQ8 software, and can certainly see its potential. I don't have a GO! cutter (YET!) but you could also create you own library for different precuts. Like maybe I want to sure up a charm pack - what blocks can I cut from a 5" square and supplement it with yardage if need be, etc. Or maybe a jelly roll - what squares can I make from 2.5" pieces - tons! Anyway, I love this whole post and I'm going to PIN it for the future. Not only that, I'm printing it so I remember to read it and try it in EQ8 while it's fresh in my mind. Thanks for sharing! ~smile~ Roseanne

Rose said...

Thank you for this post. I have EQ7 and haven't done much with it and I just ordered (this morning) the Accuquilt Go w/8" cube. I'm looking forward to studying this post.

Kathleen said...

Great job on this tute! I love EQ8 and have taken lots of Kari Schell's classes online and am "over the hump". I love my go cutter and definitely have made mine own library. Its a great thing isn't it! Thanks for linking up to TGIFF!

Michelle @ From Bolt to Beauty said...

Thanks for the blow-by-blow on how you created your library. I'm still using EQ7 ... would you say it's worth upgrading to 8?

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