Monday, May 4, 2015

Digital Fabric Shopping for My Virtual Design Wall: More Fun with EQ7

So now that I've finished my first "real live" quilt that started out as a design in my EQ7 quilt design software, I am totally hooked.  It was so nice to spend a couple of hours getting the design exactly the way I wanted it in terms of color, value, contrast and scale BEFORE cutting into any fabric -- before even SHOPPING for any fabric -- and then have my finished quilt come out looking exactly as I had envisioned.  Not only did I feel excited when I laid out my finished blocks rather than slightly disappointed, but I also saved a lot of money by fabric shopping with a color printout of my design and yardage calculations generated by the software program.  In the past when I've shopped with only a vague concept in mind rather than a complete design, it required me to purchase lots of different fabric options, some of which made it into the quilt and others that were relegated to my stash.  I also would run into the problem of wanting to use more of a certain fabric as the quilt construction progressed and then not being able to find anymore of it.  Since I construct quilts at about the speed of glaciers, that's a real concern -- I'm often still working on a quilt top a year or more from when I bought the fabrics, and by then the fabrics are often discontinued without stock available.

Kaffe Fassett Collective 2014
EQ7 does come with some fabric images preloaded into the software as well as the option to design quilts in solid colors, and you can import fabric scans and/or download digital fabric images from the internet if you already have specific fabrics in mind for your projects.  However, the fastest way to get LOTS of different digital fabric options is to purchase EQ7's Digital Fabric Stash collections.  Released seasonally in tandem with fabric manufacturer's new offerings, the Stash collections load thousands of professionally scanned, correctly scaled fabric images directly into EQ7's fabric library on your computer, already labeled for you by fabric name, manufacturer, color and category so you can find them easily. 

After downloading and installing several seasons' worth of digital Stash collections, I played around with one of EQ7's New York Beauty quick quilt designs and a wild assortment of Kaffe Fassett's Collectives prints, several of which I have squirreled away in my ACTUAL fabric stash.  I'm not saying this is a quilt that I would actually want to make, but I am very pleased with the way the software allows me to combine lots of different print fabrics, rotate directional prints by any increment, and automatically scales all of the prints in conjunction with the block size that I have specified for the quilt project.

EQ7 New York Beauty Design Using Kaffe Fassett Collective Prints
Then I used some of my new "fake fabric" to play around with a pineapple quilt design for my son Anders.  As I've been working on my own paper pieced pineapple log cabin quilt using 17 3/4" blocks that have 97 patches per block (I finished another block yesterday -- yay!), I was thinking that a smaller, simplified version of this block would be great for a child or other beginner because all you have to do is line up a strip of fabric on top of another strip of fabric, flip the foundation paper over, and sew down the dashed line printed on the foundation paper.  If he uses precut jelly roll strips, or if I precut the strips, he should be able to sew his blocks together on his little vintage Featherweight with minimal assistance.  However, his pineapple project is not going to be very successful if he doesn't get the value and color placement right, so I want him to experiment with that in EQ before he gets started.  I selected a pineapple log cabin block with only 33 patches and colored it in with some randomly placed bright batiks and solids:

Preliminary EQ7 Pineapple Log Cabin Design for Anders
Then I recolored the same quilt using fabrics arranged more deliberately, to show him how the piecing pattern can either disappear or stand out depending on which fabrics he uses and where he puts them:

Pineapple Log Cabin Design for Anders, Second Version
The point of this lesson is not that one version is right and the other is wrong, but to show how color and value placement can radically change the look of the quilt.  Plenty of seasoned quilters struggle with these concepts, but it's even harder for a child making his or her first or second quilt to envision what those big pieces of fabric will look like once they are cut into little pieces and sewn back together -- and beginning quilters who are pleased with and proud of their first quilts are more likely to continue making them!

One of the biggest criticisms I hear about EQ7 is that quilters don't want to "waste time" sitting at a computer when they could be quilting instead.  But for me, the time I spend working with design software saves me a tremendous amount of time, fabric, money and frustration by reducing the trial and error and letting me preview how an entire quilt would look before I spend a single penny or sew a single stitch.

I'm linking up with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times and Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts, and then I'm off to get ready for my first physical therapy session.  Have a great day!


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

love the patterns you show - love the colors too! To me EQ is just beyond frustration - but that is me - I know some really love it

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Karen! I used graphic design software for my interior design business, especially for elaborate window treatments combining multiple fabrics, and not only did it really help me nail the design but it was also invaluable for helping clients to envision my design -- and ultimately ensuring that the design they signed off on was one they would really love. My interior design software was similar to how EQ works, but a lot more complicated (because I often had to design on a photo of the client's home, import and resize photos of accessories or lighting, skew designs to reflect perspective, or create vector line drawings of designs that were not created in the software library). Because quilts are designed flat and straight on, using primarily straight lines, EQ7 was a really easy learning curve for me.

If you're interested in EQ but intimidated by it, I would recommend a class with someone like Barb Vlack. She is so patient, an excellent teacher, and she offers beginner and more advanced classes at AQS Quilt Week.

Thanks for stopping by!

Lani said...


I LOVE the NY Beauty you came up with . I hope you decide to make it as it would be a beautiful quilt!! Your color placement is perfect :)

The second log cabin pineapple quilt is perfect. I think it looks more masculine and perfect for Anders. Good for him learning to sew/quilt :)

Anonymous said...

Love the pineapple blocks, and the second one's colors appeal to me particularly. What fun you had with your software!

Anonymous said...

Oh my!!! You are having way too much fun. Love your New York Beauty!