Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So, Do You EQ? And More Importantly, Should I?

Photo Courtesy Electric Quilt, Quilt Design by Deb Crine

I have been intrigued by the possibilities of Electric Quilt (EQ)software for several years, but have not purchased it yet. In my interior design business, I went through several purchases of design rendering software that worked great if you limited the furniture shapes and drapery styles in your projects to the vector line drawings that came preloaded into the design software, but whenever I wanted to create something totally different and unique for a client (which turned out to be most of the time), the software ended up being a nightmare and a limitation instead of the great time saver I thought it would be. My husband calls those my "shelfware" purchases, software I invested in that I end up not using, and it's just sitting on the shelf getting dusty and making me feel guilty.  I do have Bernina's DesignerPlus embroidery design software (v6)  that I use often and I did eventually find an interior design software that I was able to use successfully most of the time.  I understand that every software package has a learning curve and I am willing to put in the time to learn how to use a new software program, as long as the investment of time and money will pay off with the results I'm looking for.  My frustration with design software in the past has always been hitting a roadblock when I want to design something "outside the box" of what the software designers anticipated users would try to do.

Layout I Wanted To Use
So, EQ: I'm interested for two reasons, but not sure if EQ can help me with either. First, I like to use as many different fabrics in my quilts as I can and with my recent scrappy Drunkard's Path quilt for Lars's bedroom, I was not able to use the layout I wanted because I ended up not having enough value contrast for the pattern to show up. 
See how the "path" pattern didn't show up with my blocks?
I do like how this quilt turned out in the end, but I had originally planned to make a Drunkard's Path quilt and I'm pretty sure that it's a Mill Wheel or something else when you lay the blocks this way. 

Finished "Drunken Dragons" Quilt with Alternate Block Layout

It annoys me to have started out making something from scratch, and then to STILL not have it end up the way I wanted it to be. 
I know that I could have previewed fabric selections ahead of time on the computer using the Drunkard's Path block that is surely already included in the EQ software
s block library, and I understand that there are even "stash" CDs available with major manufacturer's current fabric offerings so I could have played with color and value alone, or actually filled each patch with a fabric pattern the way I fill drapery panels with fabric in my interior design software. But there's no "Rebecca's Stash" CD with all of MY fabrics, and whereas I might use three or four fabrics in a window treatment design, there could be HUNDREDS of fabrics in a single quilt.

I know from the EQ web site that you can scan in, upload, and save your own fabrics in EQ7.  The web site also says that the software will "automatically scale" your fabric so the design you create in EQ is what you get when you make it up in your actual fabric.  It seems as though you can also rotate patterned fabric in EQ to accurately preview "fussy cutting" options for large prints in EQ7, but I don't know how well those functions really work.  Also, I often use fabric scraps for which I no longer have big yardage pieces to scan, and if I had hundreds of tiny scraps to audition it would take forever to scan them all in.  I wonder whether there is an easier way to play around with color and value for scrappy quilt designs in EQ7?

Vervain Monado fabric, Havana colorway
The other thing I was hoping that I could do with EQ7 is to create some really weird curved blocks. I love these traditional, huge scale drapery prints that have pattern repeats that are basically on-point quilt block shapes, except that the top and bottom are pointy and the sides are curved, like tessellated onions that fit together, like the Monado fabric from Vervain shown at left, which is actually my kitchen drapery fabric.  Wouldn't it be cool to do Baltimore style applique on blocks that fit together that way, maybe even with serpentine sashing from modified hexagon shapes?  I have never seen a quilt like that before -- would EQ7 allow me to easily create a templates for a block and borders like that so that everything (hopefully!) would fit together and lay flat at the end? Or when they say you can "draw any block" with EQ7, is that limited to square or rectangular blocks with straight lines?

The F. Schumacher linen print shown above is one of Bernie's favorites.  I suppose I could just do boring (but expensive!) drapery panels from this fabric, but the more I look at this print, the more I'm seeing applique possibilities with lots of embroidery embellishment.  Those darling little green grapes or berries or whatever they are: stuffed!  The little dots on the edges of the taupey beige border around the urn: French knots!  And instead of making every block the same on my quilt, I could do a different historical Baltimore Album urn with flowers on each block. 
So...  Do you have EQ?  If so, do you use it?  Can it do what I want it to do?  Any advice or suggestions greatly appreciated. 


Carrie P. said...

I had the EQ program when it first came out and I was new to the computer. I actually sold it a few years after I got it only because I didn't like spending so much time on the computer. I might like to have the new one now that I am more computer savvy. For the reasons you mentioned it might be something you could invest in.

PJ said...

I have EQ but I find using the Bernina Embroidery Designer Plus software easier to use for mist quilted project. It doesn't have all the of the features of EQ if you wanted multiple block sizes but you can still figure it out using the smaller blocks and. And I like the ability to make my own blocks. Easy to go to a fabric manufacture and d/l a copy of their fabric chips to your fabric library.
Pam K

Rebecca Grace said...

Pam, do you know if there's a good tutorial somewhere for that Bernina Quilter program? I already own the Designer Plus embroidery software and in software mastery classes, they showed us VERY BRIEFLY. When I asked the instructor questions about the Quilter program, she said "I don't know" and "that's a good question." My questions were about things like resizing the scale of a fabric print accurately, whether I could scan in my own fabrics, and things like that. I do know that the first time I tried to use the Quilter program in my embroidery software, the block I wanted was not in the library -- and I don't think there is a way to design your own block in that program, is there?

Right now with my Jingle quilt especially, when I put it together in my head with the red and green borders and setting triangles like the pattern designer envisioned, I am not loving what that looks like. I want to play around and see what it would look like if I pieced some of the setting triangles, or added sashing and/or a series of pieced borders... And then once I find a combination that I love, it would be so nice to have the software calculate cutting sizes for me so that everything fits together properly. If my Bernina Quilter program can do all that, I think there has to be a separate tutorial or at least a webinar out there somewhere???

Unknown said...


Have you looked at the Bernina Quilter user Manual? It is about 80 pages and lives inside the Quilter program under Help when open it (same for the Bernina CrossStitch user Manual in the CrossStitch program). I think it can do most of the things you want. You can scan in your fabrics, I find it easier to get a chip from the fabric manufacture by saving the image, and using that in the program. Yes you can create your own blocks too. While not as sophisticated as EQ it quickly does most of the things I want. Yes, It does yardage, but sometimes I would cut and seam pieces together rather than just a very long single piece.

Go to Trish's page and watch Embroidery Software #05 Designing Quilts.

I found a few of the Quilter tutorials if you are interested in working thru them. Email and I will send them to you.

Pam K