SOFTWARE REVIEW: Quilt Pro 3 for Windows 95/98/NT

Creating a quilt using a computer can be a simple and enjoyable process. However, it might become a source of frustration if you aren’t utilising the programme that is best suited to your requirements. Quilt Pro 3 is one of the latest design programmes that you have the option of using, and all things considered, it’s a package that’s not too bad. However, it is possible that it is not the best option for you.

Quilt Pro 3 can be learned in a reasonable amount of time. Either by around ten minutes of reading the manual or through approximately thirty minutes of experimentation, you will most likely be able to perform all of the fundamental tasks. Additionally, it is a very adaptable application. It ought to serve you well whether you want to draw up a quilt that’s already clearly drawn out in your thoughts, or whether you want to construct a new quilt within Quilt Pro as you go along with the process.

I will be honest and say that I do have some concerns with this programme, but I will get them out of the way first.

This software has a distinct personality compared to others that are currently available on the market. In order to work on a quilt, you will need to have many windows open at the same time. These windows include a fabric palette, a toolbox, a quilt plan window, and one or more blocks. It can be very frustrating when the fabric palette and the toolbox both insist on positioning themselves in front of all of your working windows. You have the option of expelling them totally (though you shouldn’t do so unless you are certain of how to bring them back), but you are unable to minimise or move them to the background. This is a matter of personal preference; perhaps you appreciate having everything visible at the same time. The requirement of always having numerous windows open shouldn’t be too much of a hassle provided you have healthy eyesight and a screen that’s plenty big enough to accommodate it. But speaking for myself, I find the whole situation to be somewhat confining.

Also, Quilt Pro 3 crashed, twice in fact, while I was trying it for the first time. Perhaps the fault is with my computer, but it’s a Pentium and only about 2 years old. I wasn’t running anything else in the background except Windows 95. I’m not saying the same thing will necessarily happen to you, but I would advise you to save your work often.

This is still an awfully fun way to design quilts, though.

Quilt Pro 3 opens in block mode. You’ll need to select “Layout” and then “quilt” to start a new quilt. The maximum number of blocks is twenty horizontal by twenty vertical. Each block can be between one and three hundred inches (twenty-five feet), which ought to be ample room in which to maneuver!

The collection of blocks is both sizable and varied in style. There’s an especially nice selection of applique blocks. The paper pieced block folder has seventy-three items in it, although many of these are variations on fairly common blocks such as flying geese, log cabins and so on. The “basic” blocks are ideal either for use as is or for modifying to make your own variation. There are also forty-eight quilting stencils available. Of course, you can also modify the blocks or create your own from scratch.

One interesting point is that there are a variety of hexagonal blocks as well as square to choose among, but the quilt layouts are designed for rectangular grids – straight, diagonal or on point. Perhaps a later version of Quilt Pro could make it possible to design quilts on a hexagonal or a triangular grid. That would certainly open up new options.

There are over one thousand fabrics available. Of these, you can keep sixty-four open in the fabric palette window at any time. Most of them, honestly, are not all that attractive. This is partially to keep them simple (most are only two colors) and easy to modify. Some of the fabrics are more detailed than average and are quite nice. The types and colors of fabrics are quite varied. So if you’re designing a quilt with specific fabrics in mind, you should be able to adequately approximate them.

Of course, if you do have specific fabrics chosen, and if you have both the technology and the motivation, you can just scan them in. I haven’t tried this, but it seems straightforward. Simply scan in the fabric and save the image as a Windows bitmap (*.bmp) file.

This is a pretty easy program for even a computer and/or quilting novice to run. It does have its problems, but it will allow you plenty of freedom in designing exactly the quilt you want. Plus, it’ll free you from countless pencil and paper design sketches. It’ll even estimate the yardage for you, which avoids a lot of needless math. Quilt Pro 3 may just change the way you go about designing quilts.

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