Sunday, 17 January 2016

Beginning Electric Quilt 7 (EQ7) - Part 1 of 5 parts

I wrote this set of articles for The Canadian Quilter - the magazine for CQA/ACC  

OK - I'm experimenting with video (without a video camera!  I took a couple of videos with my regular camera to try to illustrate this article - What do you think?  Here are the first 2 about getting fabrics into EQ7:  EQ7 - First part of video on getting fabrics , EQ7 - Second part on getting Fabrics into EQ

I wanted to write some 'beginner' tutorials that would be interesting to follow.  Now, almost 2 years later, I'm not sure I should have started with choosing the fabrics for the mystery project, but 'done is done'.  If you don't want to do this part, I hope you'll check back soon and try Part 2!

Design a Mystery Quilt with Electric Quilt – Part 1  
Electric Quilt? Why would you want to design your own quilt on a computer?  There are as many answers as there are people who have learned to use this versatile computer software:
·         “I used it this month to design a charity quilt for my quilt club that won’t infringe on anyone’s copyright.”
·         “I copy the ‘block of the month’ from the guild newsletter when they have a foundation piecing block and then print out the pattern on interfacing.”
·         “I look up quilt blocks from the Library in Electric Quilt when I’m thinking about a new quilt project.”
·         “I created a queen-size quilt out of ‘tumbling’ or ‘baby’ blocks in 2 different sizes.  Now I’m going to colour them in and decide which size to use to make an English paper-pieced quilt”
·         “I design a simple quilt and colour it with the fabric samples I get from the Internet.  I like to pick my colours first, then go shopping!”
·         “I use the program to make a quilt design and add borders to make the exact size I want”
·         “I always used to design my quilts on paper, but it’s so much easier to ‘erase’ something in Electric Quilt!”
·         “I know it’s not quilts, but I used it to redesign my sewing room!”
·         “I like to participate in Club EQ ( challenges; first to learn new skills and secondly to see the wide variety of patterns that are produced and shared.”

Mystery electric quilt
In this series, we are going to lead you through the design of a mystery quilt project.  The images you will see will be from Electric Quilt, version 7 (and although Electric Quilt is now available for Macintosh users, these images are from a Windows computer).  We’ll start the project by finding and selecting fabrics because this is one of the most frequent questions I answer from new users: “Can I use my own fabrics in my design?”  I find that there are generally three groups of quilt designers:  one group wants to use their own choice of fabrics, the second is happy to choose similar colours, and the third group believes in ‘value’ and they work with shades of grey.  Please choose your own method and then we’ll continue with the mystery design! 

Your homework:  The fabric colours you need to choose are:  a dark and light green, a dark and light flower colour, a background colour and perhaps one to three other colours for the border.

Using Your Own Fabrics (jpeg/jpg image files or fab (fabric) files)
A.    JPEG or JPG Image files (this format is the same that you use for digital photographs.  You use photos of the fabric and import them into Electric Quilt and use them to colour your blocks)
1.       If you have your own fabrics at home, you may scan them in with a printer/scanner to scan them in at 72dpi and Electric Quilt has a great ‘Help’ sheet outlining this process.

2.      Even if you do have the fabrics, it is sometimes easier to use an online shop or fabric website, like or  or to find the fabric swatches of your own stash.  When you see a fabric swatch you want to use in Electric Quilt, click on the image to bring up the menu (Right click on the mouse or touchpad) MENU .  Click on Save Image As...  At this point, you need to set up a process that you will ALWAYS follow – otherwise your fabrics will get ‘lost’ in your computer.  Here’s mine:
a.       Click on ‘Save Image as... – this will open up a file folder so that I can choose where to save the image
b.      I open up ‘Documents’, then ‘My Documents’, then ‘My EQ7’, then I have a folder named ‘fabrics’
c.       Inside this folder, I create a folder for each website that I use (or you can create a folder for each quilt project)
d.      I open up the folder for the chosen website, then ‘Save’ the fabric swatch
e.       Return to the store menu and repeat the steps to save any other swatches you want
   Download fabrics from a fabric company that provides support for Electric Quilt:
a.       Northcott ( )  is a company providing image files. When you choose a fabric line from Northcott, you will see a button on the right side of the window – click on this and you will have the option to open or save the Winzip file of fabric images.  If you open it, you will be able to select all the fabrics you want, then save them to a ‘northcott’ folder.

b.      Electric Quilt has written a help file to aid in downloading fabric samples at:
4.      Once you have scanned in or saved all the fabrics for your project, the best way to keep them available all the time in your Electric Quilt program is to ‘put’ them into the ‘My Library’ section of the ‘Fabric Library’ menu item.  By adding them to the ‘My Library’ section, you will be able to use the fabrics in any project.

B.     FAB files  (fab files are groups of fabric files – each group will hold a different number of fabric images.  Electric Quilt has a method of organizing the groups as ‘libraries’ of fabrics.  It is useful to follow their method:  In the section on your computer:  My Documents, create a new folder called ‘Monthly Libraries’.  If you always save your ‘fab’ files in this folder, you’ll be able to add the files easily to your quilt projects.
1.       Using the Electric Quilt FAB files: free fabric libraries
·         Click one of the library links to download it.
·         (Do not choose Open.) Save the file to your My Documents > Monthly Libraries folder.
·         Link to the folder full of files:
·         If you have EQ6 or EQ7, you need to link the folder.
Do the following steps (you only need to do this once):
1.       Click LIBRARIES > Fabric Library > Link Library button.
2.       Click Add, type in Monthly Libraries and click Browse.
3.       Select the My Documents > Monthly Libraries folder.
4.       Click OK, then click Close.

2.      Using FAB files from other sources
·         Connecting Threads is a company that creates fab files for Electric Quilt users: 
·         Follow the directions on the site and save the files in the folder – ‘Monthly Libraries’

Did this article answer any of your questions about Electric Quilt?  Stay tuned for future articles and to take part in designing our Mystery Quilt! Send your questions to

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