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While most of my bold designs start with colored pencils scrawled on graph paper, I now also use software to create finished designs.
Best Free Quilt Design App
Quilting software makes it easy to arrange block patterns and audition fabrics for a quilt that is ready to be cut. Not to mention, most threading software can calculate required fabric ratios and print patterns.
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Before I bought the software I use now, the free quilt design program helped me figure out what features I wanted in the software and if I wanted to learn to use it myself.
Check out this list of the best quilt design software to see if you find something you like!
If you don’t plan to design hundreds of quilts a year or do more than play with color palettes, you may not need this great program.
I used freeware for years before I started quilting more seriously. I ended up buying the Electric Quilt 8 when I wanted to do more.
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And, as a note, I’ve only listed the free wire software available online or on PC or Mac. There are a few free apps to check out that I’ve compiled in another post, so I’ve left them out of this review.
Finally, these are not necessarily in any specific order, but just a list that you should check out!
PreQuilt is one of the most popular free quilt design programs on the Internet. There is a free demo version and then a monthly subscription fee option.
If you just want to see the color and design of the quilt blocks, you can easily do that with the free version. You don’t even need to register or log in. Just click to start and your quilt is ready to be filled with blocks.
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However, if you want to start saving work (or a finished bed or a block), you need to upgrade. There are other features behind the paywall, including access to more than 1,200 pre-loaded blocks.
If you love fur design, this is a great subscription option for just one month. I don’t know about you, but once I pick the fabric and design a quilt, it takes months to cut and sew!
Overall, PreQuilt’s freemium software is easy to use once you get the hang of it (I say this as a very computer savvy gal though).
The biggest downfall of the free version is of course the inability to save and return to a quilt layout design.
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I always like to “sleep” my designs before I start cutting, and I’ll often go back to the saved cover to make changes when inspiration strikes. This is impossible if you have already closed the program window in the free version.
To run the PreQuilt software, you must have a phone, tablet or computer with Firefox, Edge, Chrome or another current browser installed. The bigger your screen, the easier it is to see your blocks and grids.
After creating your account, you can view quilt patterns made public by other users. Then you can download the PDF templates!
Or, if you like the template but want to customize it, you can do that too. However, there are no instructions for making data if you are a quilting beginner.
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To start creating templates, you must register with your email address. (They never email me after the day I signed up, so don’t worry about spam.) Also, PatternJam only works on my computer, NOT my phone, so make sure you access it that way.
To create a template, click “Create Template” on the left side of the screen and get to work!
There’s a small library of built-in basic blocks and fabric choices, and you have control over block sizes, borders, sizes, band sizes, and the number of rows and columns. Finally, the program provides fabric estimates based on the quilt you want to make.
This is a great free texture design program if you don’t want to create blocks from scratch and just want to look at block colors and configurations.
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The biggest downfall of PatternJam is that there are no very detailed user instructions to teach you how to use the software (only a 2 minute YouTube video).
Almost all of PatternJam’s features are completely free, which is great! You can even save free templates and come back to them later.
I just saw they added a subscription fee if you want to download the block preview canvas. (I honestly don’t know how they pay the server fees if they don’t have premium features or ads!)
I love the AccuQuilt Go! My inspiration and AccuQuilt offers in the form of free quilt designs on their website and virtual meetings.
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If you’re out of quilt ideas to design yourself, be sure to check out the hundreds (maybe thousands?) of free quilt patterns in AccuQuilt’s quilting software. (I didn’t even know this gem existed until recently!)
“Software” may be a bit of a stretch, as this is not a complete program in its own right, but rather a way to customize quilt patterns that have been made before.
When using Accuquilt’s free planning software, you must first register or log in to save or use your save.
Then click on “Create a new project”, choose the patterns you want to work with and choose your color and fabric options. If you register, you can upload stock photos of your fabric for additional customization.
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When searching for patterns, you can sort by difficulty, compatible fabric cutters, technique (EPP, appliqué or parts), and size or quality.
Once your quilt pattern is perfect, you can download the pattern and sewing instructions. (The instructions are not too basic for complete beginners.)
The instructions include a step-by-step tutorial for using the pattern with a rotary cutter OR an AccuQuilt (as many AccuQuilt quilts as needed.) Plus, the space needed for each fabric is provided.
Since I have a lot of AccuQuilt quilts, this free quilting software is something I like to use when I plan to reproduce one of the quilt patterns and just look at the fabric colors. (This is easier than finding the model on my EQ8.)
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One thing I wish they would change with the program is that they are stupid or not dead (you can do that on the website). This shows the bodes needed for a quilt as soon as you open the project, not after you’ve already saved it.
MyWebQuilter is the oldest free online quilt design software that still has great functionality. Definitely worth bookmarking as a free quilt machine! (For example, you can calculate the fabric needed for flipping, binding, backing, closure, and more.)
And you can browse the library of free quilt blocks for inspiration and use the Easy Quilt Designer to create quilts.
Choose Advanced Designer if you intend to do something more complicated than a single block in one or two color ways.
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There are also several in-depth quilting tutorials on the site that detail skills such as border binding and quilting. Since this software is limited in function, there aren’t many comprehensive instructions that I could find for actually using the design tools themselves.
What’s unique is that instead of creating a pixel quilt from a photo (basically, breaking down a photo into small squares of different colors and stitching these “pixel” squares together), the software helps divide of the photograph in different parts from the form and accompanying.
So you can make unique paper blocks and image quilts. I always find these quilts to be some of the most creative when I go to quilt shows. (If you enjoy browsing, check out the “My Quilts” section of this page and prepare to be amazed!)
While this software is not meant to be a replacement for robust software like Electric Quilt 8, you can enter some quilt blocks into Quilt Assistant and export them to EQ8. (I also like to take paper designs and import them into my digitizing embroidery software and have my machine piece them.)
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A caveat: This program hasn’t reported an update since December 2012, and the forum hasn’t had any activity since 2016.
For embroidery, Inkscape is the best free digital embroidery software, and it’s also a great find for experienced vector graphics quilters.
Inkscape is an open source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. It’s not perfect as it’s contributed by random code writers around the world, nor is it designed with quilters specifically in mind.
However, if you’re already familiar with this software, it’s easy to learn how to design and edit several types of quilts in Inkscape.
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Otherwise, there is a learning curve to mastering quilt design. (I recommend this YouTube live for a basic Inkscape quilting tutorial.)
Gimp is a popular open source GNU image manipulation program. It’s still free, and many users create artwork, edit photos, and more with it.
For the more technologically inclined quilter, GIMP is also a good option for fabric design, quilt design, and fabric color testing.
It’s a complicated program for quilters without graphic knowledge, and I recommend this handy tutorial for beginners.
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While EQ8, made by the Electric Quilt Company, my favorite quilt program is this free quilt
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