Quilting requires precise sewing skills and a lot of artistic flair. Designing your own quilt used to mean doing a ton of math to figure out the pattern for each block and estimate how much fabric you need. These days, you can easily find quilt design software to take the burden of all those calculations off your shoulders!
Quilt design software provides quilt block templates as well as tools to create unique blocks of your own. Most quilt design software also performs calculations to help you size the quilt and purchase your fabric. Some apps and software offer a preview of what your finished design will look like after you snap a picture of your fabric.
In this article, you will learn what quilt design software can do for you. You will also find information about the most popular apps and software for Windows and Mac. Finally, you will get tips on using quilting software to take your quilts to the next level!
What is Quilt Design Software?
Quilt design software is a computer program that allows you to design quilt blocks in an easy, creative way that doesn’t require a wastebasket full of crumpled-up graph paper! Most quilting software also offers a range of other tools, including options for designing the quilt layout, selecting the quilting stitches, or even visualizing the finished quilt.
It’s cool to see a mock-up of your quilt, but the most helpful part of these programs is their quick calculations.
For example, suppose you want to design a Churn Dash quilt block. This design looks kind of like the outline of a square with triangles at each corner. How do you measure those triangles so that they exactly match up with the corner of the square?
If you cut out a too-large triangle, it will hang out over the edge of the square and look silly. If the triangle ends up even half a centimeter too small, it will perch on top of the corner of the square instead of slotting into place like a puzzle piece!
Well, in the old days, you could get out some graph paper and colored pencils and figure out a sizing ratio where one square on the graph paper equaled two inches in your quilt, and so on. As you can imagine, this takes a lot of time and math!
In a quilting program, you can select from a range of preset options or drag and drop to create your own blocks, and the computer does all the sizing and measuring for you!
Piecing together a quilt block and then putting together the layout of the whole quilt takes hours of precise, dedicated sewing. If you like to design your own quilt patterns on top of all that sewing time, give yourself a break and let the computer do some of the work for you! Why not just enjoy the creative part of the design process without all the math and sizing?
What is the Best Free Quilt Design Software?
While most comprehensive quilt design software often comes with a high price tag, you can also use free versions such as Prequilt, Quilt Assistant, or even the drawing features in a Word document!
As you check out reviews for the best free design programs, think about the features that would help you the most. If you need a calculator to help you estimate how many yards of fabric your quilt requires, don’t settle for a program that doesn’t offer that feature!
PreQuilt is a web app that offers free, basic, and advanced versions of its design software. The free program provides helpful features such as a basic rectangle pattern and the ability to try out block design. In all honesty, its biggest advantage is that it will give you a taste of what more advanced design features can do for you.
If you’re unfamiliar with computer design graphics, trying out a free version of PreQuilt will give you a valuable chance to get comfortable with the fundamentals of online design. For that reason alone, you should check out the PreQuilt website! You can find more info about the paid versions in the next section of this article.
Quilt Assistant is another free option that works in quite a different way. Instead of using shapes and colors to piece together a quilt block, you take a picture and upload it to the software. The program then turns the image into a block template for you!
For example, you can take a picture of a rose growing in your garden. The software will translate this photo into a quilt square complete with precisely fitted rose petals and even measurements for a seam allowance!
Quit Assistant does not offer a vast library of layouts and blocks for you to choose from, but it does give you a pretty impressive range of design tools for free! Take a look at the website to decide if this is the tool for you.
My Web Quilter
My Web Quilter is a website that features useful quilting calculators. You can use this free option to help you figure out how much fabric you need, how to measure the binding for the edge of your quilt, or how to size the backing.
Now, this is not a flashy, modernized website. It looks a bit like it escaped from the 1990s, to be honest! That said, the calculators still work, and if you just need help with quilting math, you may want to try this free online calculator!
Finally, you may also want to consider using a basic computer design option like the drawing tools in Word or Adobe illustrator. Of course, these options don’t give you quilt-specific help such as sizing and measuring options or quick calculations like My Web Quilter. But they allow you to piece together shapes and then fill in the shapes with color to get a basic sense of what you want a quilt block to look like.
Quilt Design Software for MAC
You can access a web-based design tool such as Quilt Assistant and PreQuilt on a MAC computer, and free downloadable software like Quilt Fusion also comes in a version compatible with a MAC computer.
Keep in mind, though, that these free options have significant limitations. You can find paid quilting software designed specifically for a MAC, as you will see later!
So, how does Quilt Fusion work? This downloadable software allows you to create your applique designs. It has pretty decent design features, especially for free software!
The downside to this option is that it does not offer many quilt block or layout tools. It focuses strictly on applique.
This is pretty cool software, though Quilt Fusion’s primary goal is probably to encourage customers to purchase the many patterns for sale through the website. This makes it seem a bit like the free software works as the bait on a hook!
Free Quilt Design Software for Windows
You can use the free version of PreQuilt, Quilt Assistant, and the Windows version of Quilt Fusion on your Windows computer.
Plus, while it’s not quite free, you can purchase a new Windows tool called Quilting Buddy for just $1.99! This new design tool gives you a decent selection of block patterns. It also lets you piece together shapes and patterns to draft your own designs!
The cool thing about web-based design programs is that they often don’t have the steep learning curve of advanced, complex design software. If you’re just starting out, or if you only spend a little time working on quilting as a hobby, you may want to stick with a free, less comprehensive design model like the options listed in this section.
What is the Best Paid Quilt Design Software?
The most popular quilt software on the market now is Electric Quit version 8, also known as EQ8. Other popular options include Brother SAPVQ, Quilt Design Wizard, and Grace Quilter’s.
If you spend a lot of time quilting, you may want to invest in a paid design software that gives you a huge range of functions and design tools.
Electric Quilt dominates the market as the most advanced and most popular software for dedicated quilters. Its latest version, EQ8, came out in 2018. While it costs almost $300 to purchase this software, you get hundreds of thousands of patterns, design tools, and even complete quilt templates!
EQ8 is compatible with both Windows and MAC computers. It offers yardage estimators, a vast library of finished quilt block templates to select from, and many quilt layout aids. It also comes with every kind of quilt block design feature you could ever want. You can draw from scratch, use templates to draft the basic shapes in your block, or import photos to translate into a quilt block template!
If you don’t feel ready for that level of investment, you may want to consider the “starter pack” version of the software, called EQ8 Mini. This helpful beginner kit costs only $90, and it has less of a learning curve than the full-scale product. It provides only 300 block templates compared to the 6,000+ available in the full version, but it still lets you work with basic block and layout design.
The downside to this handy scaled-down version is that it only works on Windows computers. It also doesn’t give you the vast library and huge set of design options you get when you pay for the full version!
Preview Quilt Design
Next up on the roster, Brother SAPVQ offers a product called Preview Quilt Design. With this program, you have the assurance of a quality product because Brother has a great reputation in the sewing world! That said, this product only offers 150 block templates, and unfortunately, it only works on Windows desktop computers.
Of course, it also costs a mere $99. It also gives you a full range of design tools and even allows you to upload pictures of your fabric to see what a finished quilt will look like! It also offers helpful sizing tools to let you make everything from baby to king-size quilts!
PreQuilt (Paid Version)
The paid version of PreQuilt works on a subscription basis. You can select to pay at varying levels depending on how much access you want to the web-based design features. You can choose to pay an annual fee of $50 or $100 to access the “basic” and “market” levels of subscription, or you can pay a monthly fee of $5 or $10.
Because this is all web-based, you can access the block library, save your designs, and even sell quilts all through the website! This product will work with both Windows and Mac computers. Its only downside is that it doesn’t have the giant library of designs available in EQ8.
Quilt Design Wizard
Quilt Design Wizard deserves a quick mention though it is now a discontinued product. Electric Quilt launched this product way back before the EQ8 Mini hit the market. It remains popular with quilters today, and you can often find it for sale second-hand on Etsy, eBay, or Amazon.
This product offers a great, beginner-level introduction to quilt design. It comes with a CD to install and 200 block patterns plus 3,000 fabric options and design tools!
Grace Quilter’s design program doesn’t have a lot of reviews yet. You also have to buy this product and wait for it to be shipped to you instead of instantly downloading it. Despite that, this $299 software does offer an impressive array of design options.
The program comes with the ability to design and print your own custom-made blocks, layouts, and pantographs.
It also includes a library of 200 premade designs you can print or adapt. This program is only compatible with Windows.
What is the Best App for Quilting?
The two best quilting apps are Quilting Calc and Quiltography, though you can also find many useful apps such as Quick and Easy Quilt Block Tool and Quilt Space. If you prefer to do your quilting design on your tablet or phone, you can easily find a decent variety of quilting apps for sale.
Of course, the tricky thing about apps is that some work on android devices and others only work on Apple devices!
Quilt Design App for Android
Though it used to only work for Android devices, you can now find the free Quilting Calc app in both the Google Play Store and the Apple Store these days! It works for both Android and Apple devices and offers a total of nine different kinds of quilting calculators!
This app offers the perfect solution for those times you find yourself scratching your head in the middle of the fabric store. It helps you quickly determine how much fabric, backing, batting, and binding you need for any quilt size. It also helps you convert various measurements such as yards and meters.
Quiltspace is another Android quilting app. This one is designed to provide a forum of quilters who can help answer questions. It also offers a safe, encouraging atmosphere with no critical comments allowed! Better yet, this android app also comes free of charge.
Quilt Design Software for iPad
If you’re wondering how to make a quilt block on an iPad, look no further than Quiltography! Though this app does have a fairly high price of $14.99, it works more like a genuine quilt design software than any other app currently on the market. It offers block design tools the ability to take pictures of your fabric stash.
Though you can choose from a large library of block templates if you want, you can also make your own. Plus, you can import pics of your own fabric to see what the finished quilt block will look like! The only downside to this awesome app is that it’s Apple devices only.
Fabric Stash is another Apple app that works on your iPhone or iPad. This one costs a mere $2.99. It allows you to save information about your collection of quilting or sewing material, such as how much it cost and what it looks like.
This app may not give you everything you need for quilting design, but it could prove useful as you plan and shop for a new quilt!
Best Quilt Design Software 2021
If you’re in a hurry, take a look at this summary of the best quilt design options available to you in 2021!
|EQ8 Mini||$90||Windows, MAC|
|PreQuilt||Free version, or annual subscription of $50-100||Web-based|
|Quilt Fusion||Free||Windows, MAC|
|Preview Quilt Design||$99||Windows, MAC|
|Quilt Design Wizard||Purchase secondhand||Software for Windows|
|Grace Quilter||$299||Software for Windows|
|Quilting Calc||Free||Android and Apple|
How Do I Make My Own Quilt Pattern?
Once you learn how to use a quilt design program, you can easily create your quilt blocks and layout on your computer, phone, or tablet!
More comprehensive software such as EQ8 may require some practice before you feel like you have mastered its complex abilities. You can always find helpful tutorials on the Electric Quilt website, or Youtube! Web-based products and most apps tend to have simpler, more intuitive features, but they also can’t accomplish much.
In general, you can follow these basic steps to design a quilt pattern on a computer or device.
- First, you will need to select the right design tool for your needs. Hopefully, this article helped you make that decision!
- Settle on a kind of quilt or a quilt size. For example, do you want to make a baby blanket as a gift, or do you want to make a king-size quilt to sell?
- Now that you know what size you want the quilt to be determine how many quilt blocks you want in the quilt. Do you want large blocks or many small blocks? Your design tool will help you do all the necessary math!
- Different design tools help you create quilt blocks in slightly different ways. In some, you may scan a photo of a real-life object that will get transformed into a quilt design. In others, you will create your own design using shapes, colors, or uploaded images of your own fabric!
- If you did not already have fabric on hand, you may need a design tool to help you purchase fabric, such as Fabric Stash!
- Once you have finished all of your digital quilt blocks, you will need to arrange them in the quilt layout. This may mean piecing together a simple repetitive pattern if all of your blocks have a similar design. Or it could involve putting together a difficult puzzle if all of your quilt blocks will come together to form one large image in the quilt!
- Some design tools will enable you to select various stitching options or quilt bindings to find the best fit for your quilt. If not, remember to plan these components yourself!
Designing a beautiful quilt is a fun and challenging task. Hopefully, you will find a quilt design program to help make this task easier for you!
Every quilt is a work of art. Designing the intricate shapes and patterns of even one quilt block takes a lot of artistry, skill, and precision. Using quilting software can simplify this complex process and help you create even better quilt designs!
Software such as EQ8 and Quilt Assistant can help you perform the calculations necessary to fit together so many fabric shapes. Apps like Quiltography and Fabric stash give you a simplified way to approach quilt planning. You can find many useful tools online, both paid and free, to help you master quilt design!
Have you used a quilt design program? Did you like it? Leave a comment below to let us know!