Quilt-Pro 6 is a Windows-based quilt design program for your computer (for Mac users it is version 5). It does much the same as Electric Quilt (EQ) but does it slightly differently. They both have their good points and their drawbacks and I have owned both for a very long time although it is EQ I am most familiar with and is the one I normally use. However I downloaded the most recent Quilt-Pro upgrade (some time ago I confess) and decided that being locked down was the ideal opportunity to play with Quilt-Pro and actually use it to design a quilt or two and draw some blocks and to see how it stood up against EQ. The ‘user-interface’ (for want of a better phrase) is very different from the latest version of EQ and I found it difficult at first to get my head round it – but it was relatively simple to use once I stopped thinking about the way EQ does things.
So why would you choose Quilt-Pro over EQ? For a start it is about a third cheaper – that’s not to say it is cheap, but it is cheaper; you can find out how much each is by looking at Rio Designs website as Lawrence sells both and will offer plenty of tech support should you need it. While we’re on the subject of tech support – both programs offer excellent support via email and are quick to get back to you with a solution.
The user manual for Quilt-Pro is found within the program itself rather than being a separate downloadable PDF. The Quilt Assistant appears at the side of the main screen and provides help as you use the program (and you can turn it off once you feel you know what you are doing) but within it are a series of lessons to work through showing you how to design quilts, draw new blocks and generally get the most from the program.
You don’t get as many fabrics and blocks included in the Quilt-Pro package but, like EQ, there are plenty more free ones you can add later and they provide a ‘free block of the day’ every week day if you sign up. You can also scan (or take a photo of) your fabrics and upload them to your fabric library as well as importing pictures from websites and in addition there is a huge range of fabrics available to download from the website. The block and fabric libraries are again similar, but different, in their arrangements and ease of access. The fabric library in Quilt-Pro has fabrics arranged by colour as its default and you use the scroll bar to move through the different colours. You can choose to arrange the fabrics by theme or by manufacturer or by pattern as well. The plain colours are arranged in a bar along the bottom of the screen.
I’ll do some more detailed posts about designing quilts and drawing blocks later but again there are differences with EQ. There is no project folder or sketchbook in Quilt-Pro, instead each quilt or block you design is saved as a separate file. You have to design a block (or choose a block) before you start to design your quilt using the Quilt Wizard – which isn’t obvious from the opening screen of the program.
Once you have decided on your final quilt design you have a wide variety of printing options. As with EQ you can print the quilt or the block but unlike EQ you can also print the rotary cutting instructions for the whole quilt, not just the individual blocks, and you can print the cutting layout showing how to get the best use of the fabric.
Designing a block is very different from the traditional EQ block design worktable. With EQ you design as you would if using pencil and graph paper – although they have recently added a ‘PatchDraw’ worktable for more complicated shapes and grids. Quilt-Pro is based on drawing patches rather than lines. Those patches can then be ‘cut’ to form other shapes – so it is a bit like designing with fabric or paper pieces rather than drawing with a pencil. Again there are a number of different grids to choose from before you start to draw and you choose block size and type using the Block Wizard.
Not having used the EQ PatchDraw very much I found this hard to get my head around at first but it really comes into its own for more unusual shapes and grids. Printing blocks is much the same – you have the option to print rotary cutting instructions, templates or foundation piecing papers.
You can find an excellent and comprehensive comparison and appraisal of both EQ and Quilt-Pro from Marilyn of KKs Quilts Studio on YouTube if you would like further information and to see both in action side by side. As she points out at the end though – both programs will help you to draw blocks and design quilts but they won’t tell you how to make them – you have to have a more than rudimentary knowledge in order to make your designs.