BlockBase+ is a virtual data base of quilt blocks, containing over 4,000 quilt blocks designed by the same company who make EQ8 (review coming soon), The Electric Quilt Company. The software is quick to install, you download it from their website using the licence code given in the box. You also get a quick start guide in the box to help you get up and running. I found their video tour handy as well, I’ve embedded it below for you. It’s also a good way to get a look around the software before you buy.
It can be linked with the EQ8 quilt design software, but you can also just use it as a stand alone to find blocks you want to make and print the instructions for making them. So, you don’t have to have EQ8 to use BlockBase+.
In case you were wondering you can move it from one computer to another. So when you upgrade your computer you simply deactivate it on your old machine and install it on the new one. This means it will last for many years rather than being a one time only install. You can also have it active on 2 computers at a time.
The blocks are all catalogued by type and sub category to make navigation easy eg. 4 patch, eight point stars, square in a square etc. There’s a left hand navigation menu which allows you to browse the full collection. You can save ones you like to your favourites to make it simpler to locate them in the future. Plus there is a search option where you can search by block name or simply a keyword like ‘star’, Brackman ID if you have Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, category which gives you further options like skill level, time period, theme etc or by source, drawing on numerous historical publications.
Once you’ve found block category you like you can browse through all the different variations, double clicking on any you’d like to see zoomed in to allow you to see the details. When you click on a quilt block you also get details like the block name (several have more than one), the reference source of that name allowing you to dig into the quilt history, the default block size and the characteristics of the quilt blocks in that sub category.
You can view the quilt blocks in colour (the default), in black and white or as line drawings. You can’t choose which colours are used in the colour version but if you want to create your own colour combo you can print the line drawing version then colour it in.
What I love is you can print up the block as templates with the seam allowance added so you can cut the fabric shapes you need to make the block, as a block design, as a rotary cutting chart which tells you which fabrics to cut and to what size or as a foundation pieced block. What’s more you can export blocks as SVG files to send to your fabric cutter. You can also save as a pdf if you just want to keep the design or instructions on your computer for future reference.
What is really clever is when you are viewing the print preview for your chosen block you can drag and drop the templates around to change the layout on the page. This is great if you choose a block size that spreads any of the templates over 2 pages, you can move them until they not are split across multiple pages. Plus you can move the templates closer together to economise on the number of pages you need to print. You can also add a 1 inch scale block in just to check your pages are printing at the correct size too.
You can also change the default block size to any size you like to make the block fit the project you have in mind. It will automatically scale it up or down for you and adjust the templates/foundation pieced design accordingly.
If you are bored of tracing designs out of books, or spending ages searching for the right block in the size you want on the internet BlockBase Plus is for you, every block you can think of available to print in any size you like!
Another handy feature I liked is the quilt layout option. Although it doesn’t give you full instructions/measurements for making a quilt with the block it will show you 7 different ways you can repeat the block and lay it out to make a full quilt using solely that block. Of course if you also have EQ8 you can move the block across to there and then work on a full quilt design. But if you are only using Blockbase+ it is still great inspiration for quilt designs. It’s just a shame there isn’t a print option for the quilt designs, but you can screenshot them, move them into image software and then print them.
I found the BlockBase+ software very easy to use, after watching the video tour I could easily find my way around and do what I wanted to do without any extra help. So you don’t need to be really technologically savvy to get to grips with it.
Although it might seem expensive (just over £100) when you think about how much money you spend on books full of quilt blocks, and the hours spent trawling the internet for the block design and size you have in mind having it all at your finger tips in an easily searchable, customisable and printable way is definitely worthwhile. If you are a keen quilter I would say BlockBase+ is worth the investment.
Find more helpful user guide videos on the Electric Quilt YouTube Channel.