Electric Quilt: Full featured quilt software for the traditional or innovative quilter


Electric Quilt 5
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If you are running Windows 98/NT/00/ME you need to purchase Electric Quilt 5. It is a full feature quilting software for the traditional and innovative quilter. Many new features and enhancements are in place to make designing a new block or quilt even easier!

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Electric Qquilt 5 Review by Sharla Hicks



One of EQ5 strengths is the Sketchbook used to save all quilts, blocks, fabrics and colors with each quilt project archived under one file name.

Use the Tabs to go to Quilts, Blocks, Fabrics, or Colors.

Use the Button to customize the number of pictures visible, use the arrows to view all blocks, fabrics, quilts saved to the sketchbook, use the Edit button to change the fabric, block or quilt, use the Notecard button to add extensive notes as needed to each project, and use the Delete button to remove unwanted or unneeded items.

Worktable and Layers

1 Quilt Worktable with 3 Layers:

Each quilt layer has a function:

Layer 1: Select Block for the quilt layout. Add color and rotate as needed.
Layer 2: Overlay Appliqué designs. Add color and rotate as needed
Layer 3: Overlay Stencil designs

Use Layout and Borders Tabs to select the quilt layout design options.


The worktable is used for the creation of blocks and quilts. There are 4 different worktables that are accessed by using one of the drop-down menus. (See Menus and Toolbars for additional information)

Each worktable has two or more screens. ONLY 1 worktable screen at a time is visible to the user. You click the tabs to move from one Worktable screen to the next.

3 Drawing Worktables:
Draw patches and blocks on the EasyDraw, PatchDraw, Pieced, and Appliqué Worktable screens. Then add fabrics/colors on the Color Worktable screen.

EasyDraw Worktable

PatchDraw Worktable

Overlaid Worktable has 2 Layers: Pieced and Appliqué
Keeping the pieced layer separate from the appliqué layer allows for easier editing and drawing of separate design elements. The Color tab allows both to be painted at the same time.


Menus and Toolbars

When you want to move between the block or quilt worktables, use the drop-down menus. First select your Worktable then select your Block or Quilt Choice.

An exciting option built into Windows and EQ5 is the ability to personalize your workspace by moving the toolbar's location. They can be moved to the top, bottom or sides of the screen with click, hold, drag and drop. This allows each user to find their best placement zone. (Hint: Keep the patch tools at the top, bottom, or right side because of to select the patch tool under the arrows opens to the left, see previous example). The Editing tools, undo, cut, copy and paste, allow for quick building of repetitive patches. The most helpful command is Undo. It can undo the last 10 times actions returning you to a previous choice.

Electric Quilt 5 menus follow the Window standard File and Edit menus that most programs follow today. Border and Quilt layout choices are selected using dialogue boxes specific to each.



Draw Tools

Electric Quilt 5 has 3 separate Worktables for drawing blocks: EasyDraw, PatchDraw, and Overlaid with index tabs for identification and to access the Color section. Each Worktable functions differently, but each makes drawing certain types of blocks much easier.

EasyDraw and Pieced Toolbar, can be customized with Snap-to tools

PatchDraw and Appliqué Toolbar with Customized Tools added.

Clicking on the icon side arrows shows you all the patches available to that icon.

Block & Quilt
All Worktables have these tools available

The EasyDraw Worktable incorporates the advantages of a bitmap drawing system that allows all crossing lines to become new patches. The drawing tools are: line, arc, arc edit and grid. The grid draw tool speeds up the creation of 4, 5, 7 or 9 patch blocks by drawing multiple cross section lines at the same time. A dialogue box is used to customize the number of grid lines that will be drawn. The arc edit tool found only in EasyDraw is magic for creating complex blocks based on curves like fans and mariner compasses.

The PatchDraw Worktable incorporates the vector drawing system. The vector system draws a closed patch called objects as one unit. The patches/shapes can be overlapped making PatchDraw good for appliqué shapes. There are 15 different patches tool with several variations for triangles, squares, rectangles, circles, hexagons, teardrops, leaves, hearts, petals and more. The teardrops are a favorite for creating wreaths and feathers. Also find the line, bezier and bezier/line edit tools.

The Overlaid Worktable has two additional index tabs that allow you to open transparent layer of the EasyDraw and Appliqué (works like PatchDraw) at the same time. This creates 2 separate layers and takes the complications out of layering appliqué over top of pieced blocks.

Take care when drawing to leave no unconnected lines because when the block is saved, it erases all objects/lines/curves "not" closed. The Zoom tools will be a great help here. When using the Color Worktable, be aware that painting a patch often can cover up other patches and that a quick right mouse click will pop-up a menu for sending a patch to the front or back, use it as needed.

Electric Quilt has an excellent grid and guide options to help when creating blocks. Hint: check the advance draw feature under Preferences to activate the additional grid and node options to give you greater flexibility and control over drawing functions by adding the ability to turn off or on the automatic snap to nodes or grid. Knowing when to turn the grid off and on and a little practice and patience is the key to successful drawing of patches.

After selecting a Patch or Patches, find additional advance features to aid in drawing a blocks by clicking the right mouse button to pop-up a dialogue box selection box. Find advance draw features like rotate, resize, symmetry (for clones, standardized rotation, and flip options) and in the PatchDraw and Appliqué Worktables find the additional option of the Wreathmaker.


The Wreathmaker is a repetition tool that allows for the creation of designs going around a circle. This is one really fuuuunnnn tool!

Quilt Layout

After you are on the Quilt Worktable you have 3 tabs to access to the Quilt Layout and Border dialogue boxes to set the settings.

Each layer has its own set of tools. Note that the new tape measure is active across all the Layers.

Quilt Tools for
Layer 1: Set Blocks on Pieced Layer
Layer 2: Set Appliqué design

Quilt Tools for
Layer 3: Stencils
NOTE: When a tool is grayed out it is not available.

Quilt Layout dialogue box.
Changes with each
each layout type.

Set options for borders.


Layer 2 and 3 are transparent

allowing the addition of
appliqué and quilt stencils
to show on top of
Layer 1's pieced blocks

Layer 3: To change of thread color for the stencils quickly use .

Quilt Layout Options

Custom Size is the most advance of the layouts choices. Custom Size allows a quilt to have multiple sized blocks, odd angles of rotation and more variations for making unique quilts than the other layouts. Selecting a block or blocks and then using the Graphic Pad options will give you the greatest control.

Quilt options:

  • Copy and paste between layers in the Custom Size Quilt
  • 20 borders styles to enhance your quilt
  • Strip quilts like Bargello made easy
  • New quilt layout symmetry tool rotates block quadrants of a quilt (groups of four blocks). The symmetry tool automatically cycles through 16 symmetries. The Layer 2 & 3 examples was discovered using the quadrant tool.
  • Library of ready-made quilt layouts. (See example to the right.)
  • 13 one patch charm quilts, like hexagons, tumblers, pentagon house-shapes, cobblestones (octagons set with squares), triangles/pyramids, and custom. The custom features allows you design your own style of one patch quilt.
Layout Libraries

Enhanced Block Libraries

There is a color and grayscale version for each block in the library. This is the best of both worlds, color or grayscale depending on how you like to work. EQ5 has the largest libraries of blocks in quilting software. EQ support programs: BlockBase (Barbara Brackman's block research) and the SewPrecise CDs (paper piecing) bring several thousand more blocks to EQ and your fingertips. Adding support programs and identifying blocks from BlockBase and Sew Precise! is easy as the categories and headings will be the same as they appear in the support programs. See our Save $ EQ Packages that include Sew Precise and BlockBase.

There are 3 styles of blocks created to make designing a quilt easier.

  • Blocks are the traditional pieced and appliqué blocks.
  • Motif and stencils are used on Quilt Layers 2 and 3.
  • Motifs blocks removed the backgrounds from appliqué blocks found in the library. Removing the background makes the appliqué overlays on pieced blocks quilt tops simple.
  • Stencils blocks are influenced by industry standards for stencils. For easy machine quilting, print these stencils on Quilt and Tear. Align the printed stencil over the quilt, stitch and tear away when complete.

Search is very helpful in finding related blocks by name, reference or notes.

Fabric Palettes

The EQ 5 Fabric palettes includes scanned fabrics from designer fabric lines current at the time of the EQ5 release. Earlier palettes from EQ3 and EQ 4 Palettes are separated from the EQ5 palettes, helping to narrow down your search when selecting fabric palettes. If that is not enough fabrics, look at the EQ support CDs called Stash. Stash brings you the most current lines of fabric on the market each spring and fall. For more information on Stash CDs, click here.

Open the fabric palette choices from the library and select your favorite fabrics to be added to the Sketchbook. The Sketchbook is used to save all related blocks, quilts, fabric and colors for each project.

Customize Palette

  • You can remove unwanted or unused fabrics for personalized palettes of fabric and colors save to the Sketchbook with each project.
  • You can save the customized palette as your default that will open each time you start a new project.

Electric Quilt even calculates your fabric requirements that can be printed out and taken to the store.

Painting Tools

  • Paint patches one at a time or multiple patches at the same time.
  • Use the eyedropper tool to select previously painted color.
  • Fussy cut tool for positioning a fabric motif on a block patch works on the quilt worktable too.
  • Color Swap Tool used with the Quilt.

Scanning and Importing Fabric Files

Electric Quilt 5 fabrics are bitmap images. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Bitmaps are standard industry picture files; therefore, bitmaps allow the EQ user to scan their own fabrics, use other programs bitmaps, and go to the Internet for fabric samples and convert them to bitmaps to add to the library. For information on how to optimize fabrics bitmaps for quilting software and convert fabrics from the Internet to usable bitmaps, go to the Computer Quilting Bytes articles on Fabric for Quilt Software Libraries.

Color Management

Each Fabric palette in EQ5 includes a set of solid colors that can be easily modified using the right click color menu. Click on the color you wish to see other variations of Shades, Tints, Tones and Gradation. For those who use or make hand dyed fabrics this is a marvelous tool to help you see what mixing two colors will produce. You can also remove unwanted or used colors for personalized palette of colors that save with each project.



  1. Electric Quilt 5's newly enhanced Help Files are full of graphics and step-by-step instructions to get up to speed quickly.
    • Table of Contents, Index, and Search take you to those areas of references as needed.
    • For quick reference access, add the topic to the EQ5 favorites list.
  2. Help also comes in the form of small videos to show the basic operations to get you up and running quickly.
  3. Electric Quilt follows Windows standards with the top menu acting as the navigation map to program operation: File, Edit, View, Worktable, Libraries, and Help. The type of Worktable (Block or Quilt) determines whether the block or quilt functions are available. Use the View Menu to modify and add additional tools bars. The menus must be explored to learn the various functions. If you see a small triangle beside a word, it means additional command options will be found. If you do not explore all the triangles you will never find all the functions.
  4. The mouse pointer tool is hover sensitive and when held over a tool, identifies the tool by name and brings up a help line with brief instructions that can be read at the bottom of the screen. If you try to do a function that requires extra steps. A hint will appear, telling you what to do.
  5. EQ has standardized their Worktable and Sketchbook by basing them on a system that uses indexes tabs for navigation between the various sections on the Worktable or in the Sketchbook.
  6. When working on the Block and Quilt Worktables, the more advanced features are more obscure to find. They are under right click menus, preferences, drawing board setup, and drop-down menus. Accessing the Help Files will give you instruction on where to advanced features.
  7. Two well-written manuals come with the program. EQ5, Getting Started guide is small and has quick lessons to get you started in the basics of a drawing a block, opening a block, coloring a block and setting it into several quilt layouts. The other manual, EQ5, Design Cookbook, goes into more details about each menu and its functions, here you will find the information on how to use the advanced features found in Electric Quilt 5.
  8. Supplement help books have been written or are being written by expert users, Fran Iverson Gonzales and Barb Vlack who wrote the very helpful EQ4 supplemental books. EQ5 Simplified will be published October 2002. EQ5 Quilt Design (Barb Vlack) and EQ5 Color Books (by Susan McKelvey) will published at later dates. For more information and to be added to supplement book interest lists on these books, click here.

Export and using e-mail to exchange projects

Export a Snapshot: Save a bitmap (a single object file that cannot be edited, only resized by other programs. Or copy rile to the Windows chipboard to paste into programs like Word. Hint: The easiest is to use the clipboard to copy and paste quilts and blocks from Electric Quilt over to your favorite word processor for personalized stationery, announcements and cards using the Windows Clipboard. The clipboard eliminates needing to remember where you saved the file and using the import features of the other program.

Export a Metafile: Exporting a metafile saves the each object drawn to create a block. This allows you to move EQ blocks to graphic and desk top publishing type programs where you can ungroup and manipulate them. Only an outline of the objects will be exported.

Optimize File Size for E-mail: This option reduces the size of the project files for smaller attachments to be sent via e-mail.

Import pictures files to be used as blocks or trace bitmaps

Import picture as a block for memory quilts
Picture saves to the Sketchbook as a block.
Set picture into a quilt as a block.

Trace bitmap behind Block Worktable
Import bitmap directly to the back of the Block Worktable.
Trace shapes needed.


See the menu to the right for the print options available to the Block and Quilt.

  • EQ5 has a Print Preview for glance of printed page before printing.
  • Set font size and choice from the Print dialogue box.
  • When printing Block Templates, the Print Preview gives you the option to rearrange and delete templates as needed.
  • Print block with outline, dashed line for stencils, or as shown on screen with color and fabric.
  • Print blocks across multiple pages when the size is larger than the paper. Dashed lines help with lining up the pages.
  • Print multiple copies of a small block on a single page (nice for foundation piecing).
  • Size flexibility built into the Print dialogue box allows the setting of block height, width, and seam allowance independently.
  • Foundation Patterns have preset sectioning or it allows you to resection and group the patches as needed.
  • The Quilt prints fit-to-page in outline or with color/fabric.

Documentation of Quilt and Block information

Use the Sketchbook Notecard to add your reference source, a short description, and other important information you want to keep with the project file. These notes save with the sketchbook and cannot be printed out, but can always be accessed when needed with the project file. Hint: If you wish to save notes that can be printed, type them in a desktop publishing program and save the file location in the notes so that you always know where they are.

Operating System requirements

Windows 98/00/NT/ME/XP
Windows 95 users see below
CD-ROM drive
32 MB RAM suggested
16-bit/high color monitor capable of 800x600 resolution
Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher (download the most current version for free from www.microsoft.com)

Compact Installation (90 MB free hard disk space) Includes a small embroidery library and an extra fabric library of scanned fabrics organized by color. It does not include help videos.

Typical Installation (244 MB free hard disk space ) Includes a large embroidery library and two extra fabric library files of scanned fabrics, over 3000 scanned fabrics. It also includes help videos.

Note to Macintosh Users: Runs on Macs using Windows emulation software such as Virtual PC. "You can run any quilt PC program using Virtual PC if you are using a newer Macintosh, such as an iMac, or Macintosh with a 603 180 MHz processor or better." -Gloria Hansen, co-author of the Free Stuff on the Internet series.

Note to Windows 95 Users: Windows 95 does not have the necessary system files to run the Help files or the Help videos properly.You may be able to play the Help videos outside of the program. All other program functions should work fine.