Block Builder 101

Scott • June 13, 2012 • 12 Comments

The Block Builder page from the print edition of Generation Q.

One of the cool features in Generation Q Magazine is Block Builder. Remember those puzzles in the paper where you need to spot the differences between two pictures? Those were always my favorite because I had to develop my powers of observation, and I really liked that. That is kind of what we are offering in the magazine, a little place to engage your mind with a quilt-related puzzle. And we are even offering prizes! But, since our second issue needs to have winners from the first issue, and not enough of you have your first issue (we’re working on it!), we thought we’d share it with you now, so you can get us your entries and be eligible to win and see your design in the next issue of Generation Q.

In Block Builder, I give you a sketch of a half-finished quilt block, and you finish the design, adding more lines as necessary and filling in with color. You can use crayons, colored pencil, paint, or your computer. Neat, huh?

The rest of the GenQ team asked me to write about how I come up with these starter blocks. Do I have music that I like to listen too? Do I have special ways I go about designing these blocks? etc. And I hate to disappoint, but no, I don’t. Nothing special to get these started.  Nada. Zip. Okay, well I always start with a square, but really I don’t have to. I just draw a square with some lines in it, and then I let YOU decide what goes with those lines. I was really excited to have our friends at Fat Quarterly get us started off. All five of them came up with completely different quilt block concepts based on the starter block.  If you have the magazine, you can see their solutions on page 9. If you don’t yet have your copy, you can view it here.

This concept started from a simple game my wife and I used to play with our youngest when she got so bored in church. It worked like this:  my wife or I would start a simple drawing with a couple straight or wavy lines and/or shapes on a scrap of paper, then we’d give it to her and she’d make a picture based on those shapes. Then she would do the same for us.  Very engaging, not too disrupting, and very creative.

Scott's sample blocks from the doodle at below left.

That is how it works. Pretty simple, but some people need a little kickstart (nothing wrong with that….plenty right with it, in fact) to get going on thinking this way, so I thought I would give you a little example of how to play with it. Here is my version of Block Number one in process from the original puzzle sent out to our Fat Quarterly friends. Following the images, you go along drawing lines, completing shapes as you go. Never mind if you can actually construct it. This exercise is to help you imagine more options. Hopefully you can see how this isn’t hard, but rather fun and well, it can be addicting as Diet Pepsi, Cadbury mini eggs, or Pinterest!

Finish this block! Click on it to get a printable image to play with.

So here’s your starter block from the magazine.  Go ahead, play! Send your entries to by June 25 (yes, we had to move up the date form the original published date due to production timing changes). If you scan your block drawing, be sure to set your scanner to the highest quality (at least 300 dpi) and send up the full size file. Same goes with camera pics – we need high-resolution, full-size files. Save your drawings, because we may ask you to mail us the hard copy. Have fun; ask us questions if you need help; and we’ll see your entries in issue two!

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  • Cindy Sharp • 12 years ago
    COMMENT #1

    Very cool idea…..and yes, I think it might be a little addicting. My breakfast got soggy while I twiddled with the idea on my iPad.

  • Lynn • 12 years ago
    COMMENT #2

    I LOVE this feature in the magazine!

  • Sara • 12 years ago
    COMMENT #3

    I have a question – I designed my block, but when deciding on the colours that I wanted to use, I put pink on both sides of part of the vertical line. There would still need to be a seam there to construct the block (I plan to try it out in real life, because I really quite like it) and the line continues with different colours either side above it, but I was wondering if this is regarded as cheating?

    • megan • 12 years ago
      COMMENT #

      I certainly don’t think it’s cheating. Scott?

      • Scott • 12 years ago
        COMMENT #

        Works for me! Go for it!!

  • Anne • 12 years ago
    COMMENT #4

    I love this idea. Great for stretching the imagination. We do something similar with our kids around the campfire by telling a story that gets passed off around the circle. Sometimes you might just add a sentence, sometimes you might take the story in a new direction. Either way, it is always completely outlandish and funny. Great for working on listening skills plus imagination.

  • M-R @ Quilt Matters • 12 years ago
    COMMENT #5

    How fun! I’m in!

  • quiltzyx/sue • 12 years ago
    COMMENT #6

    Oh boy! I am so looking forward to playing with this one. And it’s going to be in each issue going forward? YAY!!

  • Debbie-Esch House Quilts • 12 years ago
    COMMENT #7

    I love this feature in the magazine! And Diet Pepsi, Cadbury mini eggs and Pinterest? You are a man after my own heart 🙂

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