Sunday, August 17, 2014

Electric Quilt 7 for Mac - A Review

In the past I have admired Electric Quilt form a distance.  I am a loyal Mac user and, until recently, the program was only available on the PC.  Earlier this year they made EQ7 available for Mac computers.  Yay!  I contacted the company and they graciously offered me a copy of the program in exchange for a review.  I am going to try to be as thorough as I can and share what I have learned over the past couple months, and I will continue to share more about the program in the future because I am still learning.
So here is my review.  Let me say first that I didn't really know that much about the program.  Up until recently I have primarily done my quilt designing with a pencil and paper.  That method is limiting for me because I am not very good at drawing and it took quite a bit of time.  I have tried Photoshop, but I don't really know much about the program beyond photo editing, and designing quilts took me forever. I have also used Touchdraw on my iPad which is actually not too bad, but it certainly has its limitations.

I can honestly say that I was blown away by EQ7.  I'm not saying that it was instantly easy.  It definitely has a learning curve and I am still learning how to do things, but it has saved me so much time and has allowed me to try so many new ideas.

Electric Quilt also has tons of info on their website.  One of the nice things about EQ7 is that even though it's new for Mac, it's not a new program and there are a lot of resources available.

Here are a few of my favorite things about EQ7:
  • You can import your own fabric files. It is easy and fast and you can see the actual fabrics in your quilt.  You can also use the EQ7 library of fabrics and solid colors.  Even though I do like to try out specific fabrics in a quilt design, I also like the ability to play around with the fabrics in the program because I don't always have specific fabrics in mind. 
  • There is a huge library of quilt blocks and quilt layouts that make it easy to test new ideas.  You can also open up a block from the library and make changes to it to adapt it to your own project.  One of the most useful features is being able to easily change the size of blocks.  I made a mockup of my Schnitzel and Boo mini quilt using the program and altered the block sizes until it was the right size.  I didn't upload fabrics because I wasn't sure what I wanted to use at the time, but the colors that I used ended up inspiring my fabric choice.
  • You can design your own blocks easily.  The program has a grid with a pencil tool to draw straight (or curved!) lines which snap to snap points in the program.  Once you are happy with your block you can print out templates, paper piecing patterns, or cutting instructions.  
  • There are so many places online to find help:
    • There is a YouTube Channel
    • Lots of helpful resources on the Electric Quilt website
    • And you can email techsupport@electricquilt.com or call 419-352-1134 (Mon-Fri, 9-5 EST).  I submitted an email question a couple weeks ago and heard back within 20 minutes.  It was amazing.
    • Since PC users have been using EQ7 for a while, there are lots of tips and tutorials already out there. 
  • You can create foundation paper piecing patterns and then number them within the program. There is already a huge library of foundation piecing patterns in the program as well.  Below you can see the "Flying Away" block in  EQ7 and how the printed paper piecing templates would look.

  • You can also create template patterns.  A few months ago I drew up an idea for a wave quilt in my sketchbook but I had no idea how to make a template that was curved (I am almost finished making this quilt and I will be sharing it soon!).  It took me less than a minute to open the program, draw the template, and print it out.  

  • The program gives you estimated yardage needed for your finished quilt.  Awesome.

Even though I enjoyed most things about the program, I did still have a few issues.  Some of these have already been solved but these were my major bumps in the road while working with the program:
  • Saving PDF files of templates of paper piecing patterns.  Most programs on Mac have the option to "print to PDF" which means that the program will save a PDF version of the file on your computer.  The wonderful people at EQ7 explained to me that since there are some advanced printing features in this program, printing to PDF from the print screen is not possible.  But there are a couple free options out there (PDF writer and CUPS-PDF) that print to PDF.  Once you install the program, just open "print setup" under the "file" menu and select the PDF program as your printer.  The program saves the PDF to a folder on your computer.  
  • When I started my first project I didn't realize that the fabric image files I was using were really large.  When I tried to save the project file some of the fabric images were missing because the project became too large. Next time I will use more compressed fabric images so I don't have this problem.  I found this link which helped me out.  
  • When you want to place fabrics on your quilt design or add quilt blocks there is a little pop-up menu that shows up. Occasionally when I tried to work on a project, the pop-up would not show up.  I tend to move the program around on the screen and I suspect that the pop-up menu was there, it was just somewhere that I couldn't see.  I was a little perplexed, but apparently I'm not the only one with this problem because Electric Quilt has the answer.  
After two months of pretty regular use, I would recommend EQ7 to quilters who want to design more of their own quilts.  The program requires a little time and patience to figure out, but for me it is definitely worth the effort.

If you are interested in buying EQ7, you can purchase it from the Electric Quilt website.  I recommend starting with the "Videos" menu in the program to help you learn your way around.
There are many ways to design a quilt, but using Electric Quilt 7 has given me so many creative options and is so quick that hopefully I will be spending less time sketching things out and more time sewing.  

15 comments :

  1. Thanks for a really helpful review.

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  2. Great review Erica - I've been wondering about trying this program (I'm a mac user too) and it looks pretty amazing.

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  3. Thanks for the review. I bought this a few months ago (Mac version) but haven't had much time to play with it and was letting myself get intimidated. I'm encouraged to give it a try again!

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  4. Awesome review! Thanks heaps. I'm a dedicated mac user too esp since getting an iPad. I'll definitely plan for getting EQ7 when I upgrade my main computer thanks to your really helpful info. :-)

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  5. awesome, well thought out review, thanks!

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  6. I have the EQ7 (Not for the Mac) i love it is there a way of saving this to project so this one is uses so i could then do any adjustments i wanted to
    Hugs Janice

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  7. Great review!! I've been wanting to get this really bad, but just wasn't sure if I was ready. I think I am! I've tried Photoshop and all those Adobe things and I hate them. Vector programs make my brain hurt, so I am thinking this is more up my alley. Thanks!

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  8. Thank you for the review. EQ7 was on my Pinterest Wish List, but I removed it, thinking it would be too complicated, but you have inspired me to post it, back on my Wish List.
    :-)

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  9. Thanks so much for this! I've been on the fence for a while and you inspired me to buy this and try it out. So far I mainly use Illustrator, but so far I'm really liking the way EQ7 organizes things in a quilt-centric kind of way. The fabric estimates are cool too.

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  10. Hurray! I just googled EQ7 Print to file for Mac, and your review came up. I was starting to freak out a little that the program wasn't going to be as helpful as I'd hoped! Thanks Erica!

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  11. Thanks for the review, I am an EQ drop out. I've had several versions for the PC and gave up every time. I know have EQ7 on my Mac but still get lost in it... I even took a short class at my LQS but was only 1 of 2 Mac users and got frustrated since the instructor didn't work on a Mac and not everything is exactly the same as on a PC,
    I hope to get going on it this winter. I know about the tutorials but would really have liked a Real Instruction manual which EQ no longer provides as everything is on line and easier to update.

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    1. Hello! Have you kept at EQ? Has your experience improved? I hope so! It's easy to get lost inside software and tutorials, but I have faith in you!

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  12. Thanks for the thorough review! I am a Mac user and just started looking into software. Glad such a great program has been adapted to Mac.

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  13. I was wondering how big a deal is it that you cannot export a meta file? My mac is a laptop and I want to download the program to that, however, I use mainly use illustrator on my PC at the office. It seems that if you can send a pdf to the printer that I could then later open that document in illustrator?

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