One of our favorite tools is EQ (aka Electric Quilt). This is a quilting software that helps you to design your own quilt blocks and patterns.
But not only that, it has thousands of in-built quilt blocks and different templates including appliqué blocks and patterns that you can start using straight away.
We have been using it for years now and highly recommend it.
What is EQ8 Software?
EQ8 is a quilt design software that allows you to:
- design your own quilts at any size you like
- create your own block patterns
- use inbuilt quilt blocks or edit them if you wish
- scan and import fabrics that you can use to see how your quilt will look before you even start sewing (or you can use the inbuilt fabrics)
- calculate yardage requirements (and also includes fat quarter requirements)
- and so much more
If you love designing your own quilts, then using a software application is really the way to go. It will streamline the process but more importantly, it will allow you to view different color and fabric variations as well as different quilt designs with just a few clicks of your mouse.
It means that you can create a quilt on your computer and be able to see what it is going to look like before you even begin sewing.
You don’t need to be a professional in order to use EQ. It is made for both professional quilt designers and those that just want to design their own personalized quilts at home.
You can also purchase it on Amazon here.
Watch the video to see EQ8 in action
A Quick Run-through
What I am about to show you below is a basic overview of EQ8. EQ8 is jam-packed with features that it would take me forever to go through everything. You can also watch the video above to see EQ8 in action.
When you log in to EQ you are presented with a Welcome screen that provides you will some of the most commonly used options. On this screen, you can choose to:
- work on a quilt
- work on a quilt block
- work with fabrics.
The QUILTS section allows you to:
- Design a quilt from scratch
- Start with an inbuilt quilt pattern
- Open an existing project
The BLOCKS section allows you to:
- Design a block from scratch
- Search for and work with inbuilt block patterns
The FABRICS section allows you to:
- Import and edit fabric images
- Search for inbuilt fabric swatches
Designing Blocks in EQ8
In EQ8 you can design your own quilt blocks quite easily. You are presented with a blank canvas and can draw lines or curves to create a quilt block pattern.
You can even import an image and trace around it to form your pattern.
Once you have drawn your lines, you can then add colors or fabric swatches to see how it will look when sewn.
You can also use inbuilt block patterns but I will go through that just a little bit further on.
Designing Quilts in EQ8
In EQ8, you can design your own quilts from scratch or you can use an inbuilt pattern.
When you select to design a quilt from scratch, you are presented with a default 4 x 4 quilt template which you can change to suit your needs.
There are so many different options that you can make to create your quilt. For starters, you can change the layout with some of the pre-made patterns available at the top of the screen.
You can create:
- horizontal quilts
- on-point quilts
- variable point
- baby blocks
- custom quilts
From the Layout tab, you can adjust the:
- size of the blocks
- the number of blocks
- the size of the sashing
On the Borders tab you can:
- add borders
- adjust the size of the borders
- select a border style
In the Design tab you can:
- select blocks to add to your quilt
- select colors
- add fancy borders
- use photo tools
To add blocks to the quilt template, you simply drag them over and onto a space. You can rotate or flip the blocks and change the colors really easily.
In the Print and Export tab you can:
- preview and print yardage requirements
- preview and print rotary cutting requirements for each block
- print templates
- print foundation patterns
- print an image of the quilt
Working with Fabrics in EQ8
In EQ8, you can use fabric swatches that are inbuilt in the software to add color to your quilt patterns. This gives you an idea of what your quilt will look like when it is completed.
You can also import fabric swatches of the fabric you are actually using. You can scan the fabric yourself or if you are lucky, you can grab fabric swatches from the manufacturer like Moda for instance and upload those to EQ.
Rotary Cutting Guide
I’ve already mentioned that we create quilt block tutorials and we use EQ8 to help us do this. We will search for an inbuilt block in EQ and then make changes to it if needed.
Then we will size it and print the rotary cutting guide. You can see how that looks in the image below.
It tells us how many pieces we need to cut in each color and size for a particular block.
EQ8 will also print out templates. For the same block as we showed above, if you select the ‘print template’ option it will display the shapes as templates.
Note that you can also move those template pieces around on the screen before printing.
Printing Foundation Patterns
You can also print foundation patterns although I haven’t dabbled in that yet so not sure how it works.
This is what it looks like for the same block as above.
EQ has thousands of inbuilt patterns and templates. You can access them from the Libraries option in the top menu.
It includes a:
- Block library
- Fabric library
- Layout library
- Embroidery library
- Photo library
- Thread library
The Block Library contains 10 different quilt block categories that include over 6000 different quilt blocks. You can use these blocks to help design your quilt or you can select one and make changes to it.
You can search for a specific block or just browse through all of the available blocks.
The Categories include:
- Classic Pieced
- Contemporary Pieced
- Foundation Pieced
- Classic Applique
- Contemporary Applique
- Border Blocks
The Fabric Library contains the fabric swatches that you can use to help you design your quilt. You can upload your own of course but if you don’t want to do that, you can use the ones already inbuilt into the software. These swatches can be used to show you what your quilt would look like when finished using the styles and patterns within those swatches.
The Layout Library contains a number of different quilt templates. So rather than create a quilt from scratch, you can just select one of these and start adding your chosen blocks and colors to it.
There are two categories in this section:
- Layouts by size
- Layouts by style
You can select a quilt template for a bed quilt, lap quilt, wall or crib quilt and even for table runners and placemats.
The Embroidery Library contains embroidery designs. These are NOT embroidery files but instead images of embroidery files that allow you to see what they would look like on your quilts. You can also import your own embroidery designs.
The Photo Library contains images that you can use to help you design your quilt. So if you are going to make a memory quilt for instance where you will be using photos, you could upload those photos to EQ to see what they would look like in your quilt.
The Thread Library allows you to see what a thread will look like on your quilt.
You can create a quilt and then use the inbuilt stencils to replicate a quilting pattern and then change the thread color to see how it will look. You can see what I mean in the image below. Notice how I have changed the second square over from a black thread to a blue thread.
Does EQ work for MAC?
Yes, Electric Quilt works for both Windows and MAC. We both use a Mac and it works great.
Where Can You Buy EQ8?
You can buy EQ8 from any of the following:
Why did we buy EQ8?
We tend to design our own quilts for tutorials and at the start, we were doing this all on paper. It was doable but it was easy to make mistakes in calculations.
We also make quilt block tutorials and again, we would do the calculations on paper.
It was all so time-consuming.
We knew we needed something to speed things up and we went in search of a quilt design software that would suit us. There are a few out there but the one that kept coming up was Electric Quilt.
As of the date of writing this post, Electric Quilt is up to version 8. Prior to this version, the software was a little different in how it was set out. Now with EQ8 we have a completely new design interface which I much prefer although I grumbled at the start.
Once you get used to something, it takes a bit to get used to a whole new format. I love it now that I have gotten the hang of it and wouldn’t go back to the older version.
If we had to describe in one sentence what why we love EQ so much is that ‘it does it all for you’. You don’t have to waste time drawing up grids and designing everything on paper. You don’t have to spend time making calculations and then hoping you got them right. And you don’t have to worry about how your quilt is going to turn out in the colors you have selected because you can see it first hand as you design your quilt.