Wednesday, July 8, 2020

EQ8 - Not Just for Designers!

Hello!  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I have been mentioning EQ8 a lot lately. Electric Quilt 8 is the software that I use to design my quilt patterns. I'm teaming up with the Electric Quilt Company over the next couple of months to bring you tips for using the software and some projects made in EQ8. I'm even bringing you savings if you want to get your own copy of this program (more on that in a bit!). 

You might be thinking that you don't need EQ8. You quilt as a hobby. You own more patterns written by others than you'll ever have time to make. You have no desire to design your own. Well, I'm here to show you that EQ8 is not just for designers!

I have owned and used Electric Quilt for several years (I started out with version 7), long before I ever designed my first quilt pattern. I used it all the time! When I'm making another designer's pattern, I don't always want to use the same fabric that they used. That fabric might not even be available anymore. But when using different fabric, it can often be hard to be sure that you will be happy with the way the quilt looks and it can be just about impossible to accurately imagine how it will look in your head. Wouldn't it be great if you could see how the quilt would look before you buy fabric or start cutting?

That's where EQ8 comes in! You can easily use the information from an existing pattern to draw the quilt block in EQ8, put multiple blocks into a quilt top, and "color" it with the fabric you want to use to see how it looks!

That's exactly what I did before making the quilt pictured above. I made that quilt top a couple of years ago using the North Star pattern by Emily Dennis of Quilty Love. At the time, the pattern cover featured the version shown on her pattern listing that is made with Bonnie and Camille fabrics and dark gray accent diamonds connecting the blocks. I bought a kit to make the pattern in Hearthside Holiday by Deb Strain for Moda Fabrics and similar to the cover photo, the kit provided white for the background and black crossweave for the accent diamonds. 

Now, don't get me wrong, that would make a gorgeous quilt! However, I felt like the print fabrics had a darker, more rustic feel to them and I wasn't sure how I felt about so much white. I considered swapping the white and the crossweave, but what if I regretted it? Fabric is too expensive for regrets!

With EQ8, I didn't have to worry about regrets. I was able to draw up both versions and decide which I preferred before I made a single cut. 

I'm not going to show the block on its own within EQ8. Since this is not my pattern, I don't want to give away details about how the block is made. However, if you have the pattern (or any other pattern), you should be able to use information in the pattern to recreate a block in EQ8. Once that is finished, you can create a digital quilt top. 

When you initially add blocks, the easiest way is to add them all at once in the same fabrics or colors. Since I generally quilt and design with print fabrics, I usually use solids and I try to use colors that contrast well with the colors that I plan to use in the quilt. That makes it easier to see if I've missed any spots while adding my fabrics. 

As you can see below, I've used a couple different shades of yellow, which are definitely different than anything you see in the first photo!

Once all of the blocks are in the quilt, you are ready to start adding fabrics! I'll usually just start randomly adding fabrics, as you can see below. If you don't know how I got those Moda Fabrics in there, stayed tuned for a separate blog post on how to download and import fabric swatches from a couple of my favorite fabric companies!

Once I finished adding fabrics to all of the blocks, including changing the solid gray diamonds to crossweave, this is what the quilt looked like:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, of course! However, the white is definitely prominent and it has more of a lighter feel to it than I wanted. So, I swapped the white and the crossweave:

I'm liking it better already! But I'm not so sure about those black prints with the dark background, so maybe let's replace those with the white prints and move the black prints to the center stars:

Perfect!  I now have a plan! And it's a plan I am confident about. That alone makes EQ8 worth it to me. 

I don't generally follow my EQ8 mockup as far as exact fabric placement, so my resulting quilt top, shown again below, is not an exact copy of the digital mockup above, but I think it's pretty close! 

I did end up using a couple of the black prints on the outside of the blocks since the crossweave isn't quite as dark in real life as it is digitally. 

Another thing I should probably mention, just in case. If you happen to have this same kit waiting to be made, or if you have another kit for this pattern and want to swap the background and accent, keep in mind that it takes more fabric for the background than the accent, so a kit will probably not have enough accent fabric to use as the background instead. In my case, I happened to have some black crossweave in my stash and was able to add some in. 

So, have I convinced you that you need EQ8 yet?  If so, you can get your own copy for 20% off by using my promo code EQ8AMANDA at Electric Quilt's online store.  This code is valid through September 30, 2020.

I will be sharing more EQ8 blog posts over the next couple of months, so make sure you check back or are subscribed to my blog so that you don't miss them! You can also find them by searching "EQ8" in the search box under my profile picture on this blog (top right on desktop or at the bottom on mobile devices).

Until next time,

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