Nancy Mahoney turned her years of experience using Electric Quilt software for designing quilts into her popular online course “Design Quilts with EQ7 and Nancy Mahoney.” When Electric Quilt debuted the EQ8 version, we asked Nancy what EQ7 users should look out for in the upgrade.
From the first time I used EQ3 in the early 1990s, I knew I’d never go back to drawing block and quilt designs on graph paper. A few months ago Electric Quilt released their newest version, EQ8. If you are not familiar with Electric Quilt, it’s a computer software program for designing blocks and quilts. EQ8 has all the same tools and features as EQ7, but the appearance has changed and new features have been added to make it easier to use. You can upgrade from EQ7 to EQ8 but the programs run independent of each other, which means any project created in EQ7 can be opened in EQ8. Since I have tons of quilt designs in EQ7, being able to import projects from earlier versions comes in handy.
As soon as you open EQ8, you’ll notice that the appearance has changed dramatically. All the tools are larger and they’re all labeled. To make each worktable more user-friendly, help tips are provided on all the worktables to explain what the tools do. You’ll likely discover tools you never knew existed in EQ7.
One of the tools that was buried in EQ7 allows you to hide or show quilt patch lines. There is now a button for easy one-click access to toggle on and off the outlines for blocks and patches, resulting in more realistic-looking quilts on the computer screen.
Several new features apply to printing blocks and quilts. When printing template patterns for applique, a new “mirror” option is perfect for fusible appliqué patterns. There is also an improved rotation option in print preview that allows you to rotate templates and foundation patterns in 30-degree increments. The rotary cutting charts have been enhanced making the piece of fabric you need to cut more visible. And you can print color-filled foundation patterns, which eliminates confusion over which fabric to use.
In EQ8, you can print yardage estimates based on different yardage widths as well as fat quarters! Similar to EQ7, printouts include the fabric SKU numbers, which I find to be particularly useful.
The project sketchbook has been enhanced so you can resize it larger or smaller. You can also see the notecard information for every block and quilt design without having to open the notecard. The sizes are always included in the notecard information.
The Library is now easy to access from every worktable. I especially like that you can edit designs directly from the Block, Layout, and Photo Libraries. You simply click the Edit to Worktable button to work on a design; this automatically adds the design to your project sketchbook and puts it on the worktable ready to be edited.
Whether you like to modify blocks from the Block Library or draw your own, EasyDraw is better than ever. I often change a block by adding and subtracting lines until I come up with a completely new one. For instance, in Monaco, I started with a version of the Jacob’s Ladder block. I subtracted a few lines and added a few others until I created a new block. During the design process, I play with colors to fill in the patches so I can see how the block will look. One of my favorite new features is that EQ8 preserves the existing coloring as I modify the block.
Other new features include the Appliqué Patchmaker tool, which you can use to create stars, posies, and quilting stencils. The WreathMaker tool includes an interactive preview that takes out the guesswork and allows you to watch your designs come alive.
New features to the Quilt Worktable include a Fabric Preview window that lets you customize your workspace to display the selected fabric swatch in its own window. I like that you can design the quilt’s center layout, then preview it while you add borders.
Electric Quilt helps me create quilt designs that I would never have come up with on my own. Creating the unusual setting for Monaco in EQ8 was easy. Once I decided on the final block, I set the blocks in a horizontal layout. Then I used the Symmetry tool to automatically rotate and flip them to create the secondary design.
I can truthfully say I wouldn’t be where I am today without Electric Quilt. Once you start using EQ8, you’ll never look back.