Sampler Layout Tutorial & An EQ7 Giveaway!

Hello friends!  SO, the last Sugar Block pattern of the year is out, and now it’s time to get your quilt put together (unless you’re waiting to add even more blocks to your sampler, which is an excellent idea too!).  I don’t know about you, but for me, when it comes time to stitch together sampler blocks, sometimes I find my creative juices are just drained.  To sash or not to sash?  Should I add borders?  What color?  How wide?  And this one is so common…..I only have 12 blocks but I want my quilt to be big!

Aaaahh, yes, been there, done that.  Admittedly, my mind always seems to go somewhere like this…

Layout Option 1

Ummmmmmm BORING!  Snap out of it, Amy!  There is more to life than 3 X 4 white sashed layouts!  Alas, I imagine you probably stumble into the same rut from time to time.  You’ve got yummy blocks that you really want to get stitched together into a totally awesome quilt you’ll love, but you feel like it looks the same every time…

That’s exactly why I decided to write this post!  Ever since I started playing with EQ7 (quilt design software by The Electric Quilt Company), it’s like a whole new world opened up for me.  All of the sudden, I had the ability to not only design blocks, but also to experiment with layouts beyond what I ever thought possible.

Let me show you what I mean.

So let’s just start simply, shall we?  Hmmm, ok, if the plain sashing is too bland, we could add cornerstones…  A little predictable, but lovely nonetheless.

Layout Option 2

Hmmm, forget the sashing for now.  What if we turn our blocks on point?  Maybe alternate with plain blocks?  Perhaps a couple of borders?

Layout Option 9

Hmm, interesting.  How about we scrap the alternating plain blocks and just add some plain sashing instead?  This layout uses 13 blocks so I’ve thrown in an extra.

Layout Option 10

What if we use a contrasting color for the sashing?  Totally different look.

Layout Option 11

Let’s see here….what else could we do?  Say I want to make a much larger quilt.  What can I do, other than add a big fat border?  First, let’s try adding some alternating plain blocks.  Again, this one has an extra 13th block added in.

Layout Option 3

Ok, ok, I’m liking it, but maybe the plain blocks are toooo plain.  I could add in some ridiculously awesome quilting in those spots, or some embroidery, but maybe I’m not in the mood for that.  How can I keep this cool alternating layout, that helps make my quilt much bigger, but without all that huge gaping empty spaces?

Layout Option 4

Iiiiiiiinteresting, but not exactly what I had in mind.  Maybe too busy?  The blocks kinda get lost in all that crazy movement.  How do I give my precious sampler blocks more definition?  How do I draw more attention to them?

Oooooh, yes!  This makes the chain a little bit smaller and gives them room to breathe, dontcha think?  In faaaaaaact (shhhh, spoiler alert), if you like where this layout is going, you miiiiiiiiiight just hang tight until my new Craftsy class launches in about a month.  Maaaaaaybe I threw something similar to this in.  Maaaaaaaybe I sized it to fit your Sugar Blocks perfectly.  I’m not saying that’s a fact.  I’m just saying it miiiiiight be something that could maybe possibly sorta kinda perhaps be included.  :)

Layout Option 5

Now what if I just want to throw all of this business out the window and go crazy?  Do I have permission to go crazy?  Let’s get CRAAAAAAZY….

Layout Option 8

I totally envision some raging cool quilting motif in the middle and corners of this one…or more piecing…or embroidery…or the moon.

Layout Option 7

Layout Option 6

Layout Option 8b copy

Layout Option 8c

Can someone please tell me why my blocks must be in a standard symmetrical grid pattern?  Of course they don’t have to!  Lean in close and let me whisper a secret in your ear….there are no quilt police.  We think there are.  Sometimes we can almost feel them sneaking into our sewing rooms and threatening to write us tickets when we feel tempted to get a little craaaazy.  Nope.  They don’t exist.  Crazy isn’t crazy.  It’s unique, inspired, expressive, fun, unexpected, interesting, dynamic.  Crazy = awesome.

Feeling a little inspired???  Isn’t this layout stuff fun?  I know!!!

Let me take you through a few simple steps on EQ7 that will allow you to play more freely with your layouts, and then stick around til the end of the post because guess what?  The Electric Quilt Company is giving away an EQ7 software package to one lucky reader!!!!  Seriously, you guys, this is $189 software!  Worth every penny (priceless when you use it every day like I do!).  Thank you EQ!  SUCH an exciting giveaway!

So, let’s start on the main screen of our quilt worktable.  Right now I’ve got a quilt on the screen that I’ve been playing with, perhaps I’m not loving it….wanting to try something else…

  • First thing I’m going to do is click on the Layout tab at the top, and then click on Layout Library.

EQ7 Tutorial 1

  •  This will pull up a very extensive library of layout options.  You can browse by style, by size…there hundreds to choose from.  For this project, I especially love the section specifically for 12″ blocks.  Once you’ve browsed the library and selected a layout you want to play with, click it (you’ll see a blue box around it once you do), then go down to the bottom and click Add to Sketchbook.  You can add as many layouts to your sketchbook as you like.  Once you’re happy with your selection, click Close in the bottom right of the window.

EQ7 Tutorial 2

  • Now, that window is gone and we’re back to our main quilt worktable.  Click on the View Sketchbook button near the top…it looks like a cute pair of glasses.

EQ7 Tutorial 3

  • My sketchbook will pop up, and I want to make sure I’m on the quilts tab (the dark orange one on top), which I think is the default every time you open your sketchbook.  Use the scroll bar to look through all of the layouts that you added when you were browsing the library (note that all of the quilts you’ve designed in this project will appear here, in addition to the blank layouts you selected).
  • Double click on the layout that you want to play with, and it will open up in your main quilt worktable.

EQ7 Tutorial 4

  • Ok, so now your new layout has popped up, so it’s time to add the blocks.  Click on the Set Block icon on the righthand toolbar.  It’s near the top and looks like a block with a little arrow popping off of it.  When this button  is depressed, you can add blocks to your layout by simply clicking on the block you want from the sketchbook blocks window (to highlight it), then clicking in the spot you want to put it in in your quilt.

EQ7 Tutorial 5

  • Add and arrange your blocks to your heart’s content, and then if you want to play with colors (recoloring any portion of the quilt, including the patches in the blocks, and also any sashing or borders, etc, simply click the Paintbrush icon on the right toolbar.  Your color/fabric palette will pop up, so you can click the color or fabric you want to use, then click on the patch you want to color.

EQ7 Tutorial 6

  • When you want to add/remove borders or sashing, or adjust their size, look to the bottom of the page and click on the Borders tab.  You can tweek them to your heart’s content in the border window that will pop up on the right of the screen.  Then when you’re finished with borders/sashing, click on Layer 1 again to go back to the main quilt worktable.

EQ7 Tutorial 7
Doesn’t this look like fun??  It is!  It’s like coloring for grown-ups!  Not even just grown ups…my kids are on my like white on rice to let them play with a quilt design on EQ7.  So you wanna win it?  Use the giveaway box below to enter!

EQ7 Tutorial 8

Click To Enter The Giveaway

Good luck everyone, and thank you, Electric Quilt Company, for such a fantastic giveaway!  I hope you all have fun deciding on a layout for your Sugar Block quilt, or whatever quilt you’re working on!  And don’t forget to upload a photo of it in the Flickr group!



  1. OMG, my head is spinning. I cannot wait until this work week is over and I have time to PLAY! And I cannot wait until your craftsy class. Eep!

  2. Amy, thank you so much for this!! I’ve been wondering what I could do with my blocks and hadn’t a clue where to start! I made 2 each month so I can double the size of my quilt! What a way to start the first of the year – my first winter being retired!!

  3. Andrea Williams says:

    Amy, once again you have inspired me! What a great program for quilt design!! I can’t wait to see you back on Craftsy!! Yippee!!

  4. stephanie says:

    Pecan pie is my most favorite food ever! Great giveaway thanks!

  5. Mary Reade says:

    Warm mince pies with whipped cream – This to me is Christmas – Mary

  6. Can’t wait for January! Yay! I love Craftsy – which was how I found your blog. I was too late for Sugar Block this year, but I’m already signed up for next year! Looking forward to CRAZY in 2014!

  7. This software looks like so much fun to play around !!!
    I have to say I just love the one labelled “option 6″ with the wonky blocks ! My blocks are very busy so this will be just perfect ! Thank you for this inspirational post !

  8. Omg! My head is spinning. Quite a tool. The possibilities!

  9. Bacon wrapped dates. Since you said party and not Christmas dinner, I think? Or maybe that was just some shouting in my head about bacon wrapped dates (the fruit, not the husband). Thank you!

  10. The ideas are endless with EQ7!!!!!!!

  11. Jennifer Nunnery says:

    The answer to my question is…Moravian Sugar Cookies. They are so delicate and tasty and…man I need to find some!! This post has opened my eyes. I have to admit that I’m a very geometric type person but I want it all to line up for some reason. Maybe now that I’ve seen your ideas I will break that old habit. And EQ7…WOW!!!

  12. I look forward to the fingerfoods and cocktails :)

  13. Fave food at a party is cheese! Love it. Also thank you for this chance to win. You are such a good teacher. Love your Craftsy classes!!

  14. 7 months preggo… not even sure what food I’m craving at this point:) Really love the EQ 7 software however. I was just wondering if I should put it on my wish list when you posted this.

  15. Decorated sugar cookies! I’m feeling inspired to get my blocks finished!

  16. What en enlightening post. Thanks for the ideas and the opportunity to win the EQ7. My favorite food at a holiday party would be mini proteins, i.e. meatballs, pigs in blankets, cheeses, lunch meats. Looking forward to your new Craftsy class and the 2014 Block of the month.

  17. Dessert!:)

  18. Little smokies. :)

  19. I’m working on the December block this week! And I’ve been wondering how to put all these lovely blocks together, so thanks for this timely post and the inspiration! I’ve loved this series this year. You have done a great job :) I’ve enjoyed getting to know you (and the other ladies) better this year through the FRMQG and your classes at Fancy Tiger!

  20. Thank you so much for this! Really useful!

  21. Thanks for all the layout ideas and the giveaway! I’m planning on making several more blocks to make the quilt queen sized, but I’m hoping to do something interesting with the negative space as well. I love to bring butterscotch brownies to Christmas parties. It’s my grandmother’s recipe and they’re so delicious!

  22. I hope yo get some pie this holiday season

  23. If it’s a cocktail party I like something a little more substantial like stuffed mushrooms or toasted ravioli!

  24. Chocolate covered peanut butter balls.

  25. Allison C says:

    Sugar cookies with lots of colorful sprinkles.

  26. Thanks for the motivation to get caught up on my blocks! :) My Italian family makes Chocolate Amaretti Cake every Christmas Eve, I am looking forward to it already!

  27. Something with dark chocolate

  28. probably sweets….cookies and cheesecake!

  29. I tried to leave my answer but hit reply (boo) now it won’t let me edit it. Oh well! Good luck everyone! Love what this can do! Love all these designs!

  30. I know I was supposed to leave food comment in Rafflecopter but it didn’t let me. I hope there are yummy cheeseballs and a way to go back and edit my Rafflecopter!

  31. I’m considering making a swoon with some of my leftovers to use as the medallion for the middle of the 12 squares surrounding it. When I saw the yellow medallion in the center of the one shown above, I knew I was right.!! Now, do I sash or not???

  32. I couldn’t leave a food comment either. I vote for date bars made by my Mom=mom. I guess I will need to find her recipe.

  33. Candeee S. says:

    I look forward to cheesecake. There are so many yummy ways it is prepared.

  34. Megan Collins says:

    I’ve been working on the layout today! This is so helpful- thank you!

  35. Love any kind of shrimp dish. Not the place for the answer, but like reading other comments too. Really like the gray sashing with the blocks offset, Amy. Participated in your Craftsy BOM and enjoyed it very much. The Sugar BOM Blocks are even more outstanding.

  36. This is a nice idea of giving something away but the program you’re using has requested my friends list and emails. I will not violate my friends in that way. I’d rather just pay the money and buy it outright.

    • Hi Sally Jo- So sorry you’re having trouble. Not quite sure what you mean, but please let me know if there’s any way I can help. To enter, simply type in your answer to the question and hit “enter”. The program will not ask you for any information, other than perhaps your email address so I can contact the winner. If you’re on mobile, I wonder if maybe it’s just giving you the option of sharing about Rafflecopter with your Facebook friends? This happens to me with widgets and apps fairly frequently and you should always have the option of just clicking “no thanks”. Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you’re having a great week! -Amy

  37. Thank you for the opportunity to win the program :) I’d love to play around with this!!! Looks like such fun to be finally able to truly visualize blocks and quilts without having to make them.

  38. Bonnie Brunner says:

    Amy – I just signed up for the Sugar Block Club 2014. It hardly seems possible that we have been quilting together for 2 years now – soon to be 3. Have kept up with your two girls, your beautiful twin boys, your new house–almost seems like we are neighbors! Love your quilting ideas and can’t wait for the 2014 Sugar Block Club to begin.

  39. Thanks so much for showing us all of these options. It really helps me look at alternate ways of setting the blocks. I really enjoyed this BOM and have signed up for next year. I can hardly wait to begin.

  40. Great options for the sampler.

  41. You never cease to amaze….you just keep on inspiring!!!!!

  42. Amy, are you crazy? You made me join Twitter, just for an extra chance to win the giveaway, lol.
    I have read already about the software, and it looked like tremendous fun… But I am worried about the “time-lost”, because I would stick to my laptop for half a day or more. (But thanks god, my boys would not let me! Haha).

  43. Great post, Amy! Love the way those sugar blocks came out!

  44. Love your post and what you’ve done. I have really loved this BOM and I love your Craftsy class so can’t wait for the next one and this time I might actually do it instead of just looking and wishing.

  45. No losers here … but I favor the on-point and the wackies the most … maybe the on-point a notch more! :-}

  46. EQ is finally working on a version for Macs. Great news because I Don’t Do Windows!

  47. So, are you saying to put aside the blocks and wait until January? I am full of anticipation. I feel almost like a kid waiting for a surprise. I am looking forward to the class. Speaking of classes, is there such a thing as an EQ7 class? I would feel really challenge with a quilt program since I have not sat down to research the product.

    Thank you for all your inspiration.

  48. Thanks for sharing this Amy! I have wondered what you can do with EQ and if it was worth purchasing. I can see that it is, and you’ve got me thinking about layouts in a whole new way!

  49. What great ideas…almost mind boggling! I look forward to BOM 2014! Thanks for being so inspiring.

  50. Wow, so many options, so little time! I’ve always wondered what you could do with EQ7. Oh, Santa…

  51. Deborah French says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post!!! I make “Quilts For Kids”, which all have to be small and you certainly opened my eyes on the possibilities of layouts for finishing a small quilt! This is one of the many reasons you are my hero!! Thank you my friend!

  52. WOW Amy Thank You for this opportunity.

  53. Wow ~ so many wonderful ways to put together all these lovely quilt blocks! Thanks for the generous giveaway!

  54. THANKS Amy for the tips on using EQ7. I got it a few years ago for my birthday and I’m “just not getting it” and I’ve been thru all the tutorials! You make it look so easy. I guess I just need to spent some “quality time with it”.


  55. I used to have a program like that somewhere! Maybe I’ll have to go find it…it was from the Electric Quilt Company and my friend gave it to me.
    But seriously do I need more inspiration right now? Probably not.
    What I DO need is fabric therapy!!!

  56. I love the idea of doing layouts electronically but I’ve been using Photoshop and it’s always a bit of a painful process unless I’m in a computer mood. Usually I’d rather be sewing though!

  57. After seeing all the ways the blocks can be done I am tempted to join the club for 2014. Will the 2014 blocks go along with your new crafty class? If so, I am in!

  58. Janet Green says:

    I already have EQ7 so I will just say love the blog and your ideas and I will be joining you for both classes in craftsy and the bom next year good job Amy!!!

  59. Wow, I have an older version, can’t do too much with it, I love that you illustrate all the different options you have!


  61. Great ideas for all the settings – bookmarking this entry for sure. Also clicked to enter the drawing for the program. Thanks for letting me put my hat in the ring!

  62. I can’t figure out the tweeter thing….would love a chance to win EQ7.

  63. Hoping and wishing and wishing and hoping……

  64. Thank you SO MUCH Amy & Electric Quilts!!!!! I can’t believe I won and I can’t wait to see what wonderful things I can design in EQ7! Yay!!!!!!! I’m so excited!!!!!!

  65. I want that software !!!! Is it available over here in England do you think?

  66. I joined the 2014 BOM today and I am excited to get started…love your blog!

  67. Susan Santistevan says:

    Love all the design ideas on your blog today! Also the tutorial for EQ7, how have I lived to be 51 without having this awesome software?!?!

  68. Leslie Levesque says:

    Love your blog and have really enjoyed all the blocks.


  1. […] whole bunch of other blocks to make this a queen-sized quilt for our bed. Or maybe I’ll ponderAmy’s inspiring layout post yesterday and come up with a whole new […]

  2. […] am not sure how I’m going to arrange these 12 blocks just yet. But Amy just posted on her blog some pretty suggestions for block arrangement – some of them I hadn’t even […]

  3. […] Stitchery Dickery Dock is giving away a copy of EQ7.  You only have till Saturday night 12/7/13 to enter so hurry.  Go here. […]

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