Monday, March 25, 2013

The Threadbias Quilt Design Tool: Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Good morning! I'm excited to be kicking off the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool Blog Hop today! I've been waiting for a quilt design program that was Mac-accessible and more modern-fabric-friendly. The Threadbias tool is it!

Until now, I've used Adobe Illustrator to design my quilts. Illustrator is a design powerhouse that I've relied on for more than 12 years professionally, but using it to design quilts is like using a sledgehammer on a thumbtack. What I wanted for quilting was a program that would easily create quilt-specific shapes, efficiently fill those shapes with fabric swatches, provide a better grid to work from, and would calculate fabric requirements for me. Being on a Mac, Electric Quilt wasn't an option for me, nor does EQ come with many pre-loaded modern fabric swatches.

Enter the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool. It's a web-based program that has all the features I've been wanting and it's 100% accessible to me and my Mac. Even better, you pay a monthly subscription price to access the tool, so there's no big up-front investment. I couldn't sign up fast enough.

So now that it's been rolled out, what do I think of it? I've played around with it quite a bit now, and it pretty much does exactly what I want it to do. There is no question that I can design blocks and quilts exponentially faster than I do with Illustrator. It took me all of 10 minutes to design this block:


And another 15 minutes to come up with the resulting quilt design and export it as a JPG. (I like this design so much, I've already started cutting the fabric to make it!)

Quilt designed with Threadbias Design Tool

One more click and I had my fabric requirements. No more quilty math? I think that's worth the Design Tool's subscription fee right there. : )



Some other features I love:
• You can "color swap"—for example, you can make every green section purple instead, in just one click.
• You can export simple shapes to use as cutting templates.
• You can automatically make "composed shapes", such as half-square triangles, quarter-square triangles, or hexagons made up of equilateral triangles.

So I love the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool! Here are some tips for getting the most out of it:

Watch the tutorial videos. I admit, I'm one of those people who likes to skip the instructions and just jump right into something like this. I can't tell you the number of times that attitude has tripped me up (usually while assembling Ikea furniture). It didn't work out any better for me with the Quilt Design Tool. So after fumbling around for a bit, I spent 7 minutes watching the introductory video on the design tool's main page. That was time very well-spent! Seven minutes was was all it took, and suddenly the user interface made perfect sense to me. You can also find a YouTube playlist with 20 short videos that explore the tool in more depth.

Your web browser matters. Apparently the tool is slower when used in Firefox, because of the way Firefox processes javascript. But I've had no problems at all running the tool in Chrome—everything has moved smoothly and quickly, with no locking up.

Don't hit the delete key! I kept selecting shapes and hitting "delete" on the keyboard. That's how you delete something in Illustrator, so it was habit. But when you're in a web browser, that just results in closing your browser window. That caused some swearing the first few times I did it. But by the time I finished designing my second project with the tool, I was already in the habit of using the "eraser" button to the left of the workspace to delete things. (Edited to add: Apparently Threadbias has already fixed this—you can now use the delete key to delete things. Just one example of how responsive they've been about making changes based on user feedback!)

As long as you follow those three tips, I think you'll have a great experience with the Design Tool and you'll be as in love with it as I am. : ) Click here to sign up for the design tool—subscriptions are $10 per month. (That's less than the price of a yard of fabric!)

To convince you to try it out, Threadbias is offering a free one-month pass to the Design Tool, or a one-month credit on your existing subscription. Just leave any comment on this post to enter the giveaway. Be sure to leave your email address if you're a no-reply blogger, so I can contact you if you win. And please note that if you do win, you must sign up for a free account on Threadbias in order to use the design tool.

Don't forget to follow along with the rest of the blog hop for more chances to win. And thank you, Threadbias, for giving me a better quilt-designing option!


Monday, March 25 - Freshly Pieced
Tuesday, March 26 - Don't Call Me Betsy
Wednesday, March 27 - Generation Q Magazine
Thursday, March 28 - The Sometimes Crafter
Friday, March 29 - Diary of a Quilter
Monday, April 1 - Swim, Bike, Quilt
Tuesday, April 2 - Fresh Lemons
Wednesday, April 3 - West Coast Crafty
Thursday, April 4 - Sew, Mama, Sew!
Friday, April 5 - Alison Glass
Saturday, April 6 - Pink Castle Fabrics
Sunday, April 7 - Ellison Lane Quilts

147 comments:

  1. Wow! I can't wait until my children are in bed and I can explore this more. I am a Mac user, so I am very, very excited!! I LOVE what you have designed.

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  2. can't wait to try this!! & love that quilt design:)

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  3. Oh wow Lee...this sounds great and really interesting. I'm no designer; but like you said; I hate to read instructions. I tend to take a quick browse...look at pics and get going...lol. Would love to see how this works.

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  4. Looks like a great program. I will hop over and check it out. Thanks for sharing with us. Cynthia

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  5. Would love to give this a go! I'm a Mac person too and totally get the sledgehammer thumb tack thing with a big program. Wonder if it would work on the iPad?

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  6. I am a relatively new quilter and am constantly trying new combinations for a new quilt design. I can't afford a large upfront investment so this is perfect! Thanks! Cassie

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  7. Looks like fun. I love the design you came up with.
    AmandaK@whatthebobbin

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  8. Great idea thanks for the tips... Nydia(@)ADD-crafter.com

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  9. Wow, I've never heard of it, but it sounds really interesting and just what I might need - off to check it out.

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  10. I will certainly be checking this out! Love to design and make things come together quickly. Never heard of this and am grateful you have highlighted this!

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  11. I don't need to be in drawing to win as I am already a subscriber and willing to pass my chance onto someone else!! Great description of this AMAZING tool. I love using it and have already created a couple of quilts on it and completed a small table runner with one of them! It is fun it is easy and I have never used anything to design quilts except for graph paper so I am over joyed. Threadbias is also an amazing community for inspiration and support so come on over and join in!! And the more of us the more "pressure" on all the fabric manufacture's to allow their fabrics to be involved for stashing:-). Great blog piece.

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  12. Love the design you created - thanks for the introduction and for the chance to win!

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  13. Looks like something worth trying out. :)

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  14. Soo soo glad you wrote about this as I was debating on whether or not to dive into Illustrator. For $10 a month and no figuring of fabric requirements---SOLD! Thanks for the great tips as well Lee;)

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  15. I'll definitely have to look into this. I thought I liked figuring out my yardage, but having done math using the finished size on my last quilt, I guess I need more help than I thought!

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  16. Love your design! Thanks for the great tips.

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  17. This looks super cool! Your design rocks too.

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  18. Yay! I haven't been on thread bias in a while, I am so glad that the tool has finally gone through!

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  19. I've never used a program for designing quilts before, just graph paper! Lol This is exciting though!

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  20. What a neat tool! I mainly have a mac and then we have a pc for our family computer, so this super excited me that it can be used between the too if it web-based! Hmmm Even my smartphone! Thanks so much for sharing, it is really appreciated!

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  21. Yea! finally a program for my MAC---so happy to give this a try!

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  22. it sounds really interesting! definitely worth checking out.

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  23. I would love to try this programs, thanks! I currently use Powerpoint to design my quilts which works but is not ideal

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  24. How neat! Definitely something I'll need to check out!

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  25. I'm already signed up but would love to win an extra month!
    LLFasRN (at) aol (dot) com

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  26. I love Threadbias, and their design tool. Thanks for helping to get the word out! :)

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  27. I use EQ on the PC side of my Mac. It's annoying to switch over and I find the program hard to use. I'd love to give this a try. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  28. Fabulous! As a graphic Designer I'm pretty partial to Illustrator as well. I have found, as you have, that it's amazing for a great many tasks but not so much for quilt design. I can't wait to try this. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. :)

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  29. This certainly sounds like something orth trying. I also have a Mac and would love to work with something easy.

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  30. This sounds like a fantastic tool. I love the idea of no big upfront payment as well. Thanks for sharing

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  31. That really does look fun. I can see myself "whiling away the hours" (i.e. spending a *lot* of time) playing around with a program like that!

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  32. Great review - nice to know my daughter - should she be interested - has the option on her mac to design quilts.

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  33. Love the design you created! I have an account so I could load the fabrics I have in my stash! But I haven't tried or subscribed to the design tool yet! Thanks for the chance to win!
    mrs(dot)hbraun(at)gmail(dot)com

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  34. Oh this is so exciting!!! Thanks for the chance to try it out for free! :)

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  35. Wow, our main computer is a Mac! Yay, can't wait to check it out. Thanks for the info!

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  36. I am with you on the EQ and illustrator....I will have to think on this. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  37. I've been tossing up what quilting software to get... This sounds good!

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  38. I'd love to give this tool a try. I love the idea of testing before buying. Thanks.

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  39. As I HATE math, I've been trying to decide which program to try. Thanks for the chance :)

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  40. wow, that sounds absolutely amazing!!!

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  41. Fun! I'd love to try this design tool!

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  42. Wow! Can't wait to try this tool out further.

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  43. Mac user here too! I've been waiting so anxiously for this to come out! Thanks for the review and chance to win!

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  44. I love the review and a great design too! One note on your delete key warning. When we found out people were used to hitting delete in other programs and the swear-worthy results of doing so in our design tool we made jumped on it. We now override the default behavior of the browser so when you have one or more shapes selected and hit delete your shapes go poof - not your browser session! If you don't have anything selected, it doesn't do anything and prevents the browser from leaving the page.

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  45. Thanks for sharing your experience with the design tool! I love Threadbias - what a great group of people over there :)

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  46. This looks so cool!!! :) I'd LOVE to try it.

    mrsrachelsbooth{at}gmail{dot}com

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  47. I still plan my quilt designs with graph paper and colored pencils. I may have to consider upping my game. Thanks for the review!

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  48. That is exactly what I have been waiting for. I am on Mac but have a windows based laptop and have EQ7 on it and I absolutely hate it. As soon as I am home tonight I will have a look at this new tool.

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  49. Great review! I would love to try this out!

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  50. sounds like a great tool to have! thanks for the tips

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  51. I am also a Mac user and I'm excited for a user friendly design program. Love your design! And thanks for the review.

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  52. I just signed up! Can't wait for some free time to play with this (I should probably get the laundry finished first). Thanks for the great review and giveaway!

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  53. I heard their lecture at QuiltCon and thought it had good potential.

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  54. I first heard about this at Quiltcon. Can't wait to try it!

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  55. This looks like such a great tool. I'm definitely interested in trying it out.

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  56. Cool! I've never used a computer tool, just me and my pencil

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  57. Wow - I had never heard about it. I'd love to try.

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  58. yeah I've really been meaning to try this! Thanks for sharing a bit about it.

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  59. I just did a quick few minutes on the tool and want to try more. Thanks for the chance to be part of the giveaway.

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  60. I watched the video a few weeks ago and was very interested in this! Would love to win a trial month! Thanks!

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  61. This sounds like it has solved some of the problems on EQ7,

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  62. Wow! What a fantastic tool to have available! I hope to win the free month...

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  63. I especially like the optical illusion effect of your design. I was going to do something else today, but the quilt tool is calling me. Probably will all week. I too was waiting for a MAC tool and one that would do the odd size and shapes that I like to make.

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  64. I haven't purchased EQ yet either due to the price. AND I just bought a Mac (didn't realize EQ doesn't run on Mac's) This sounds like an awesome option! Thanks for review and the opportunity to win!

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  65. Ooh, fun block! I would love to try Threadbias!

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  66. Oh this is fun! I've been wanting a program like this that isn't such a huge upfront investment. What a great solution. Thanks for sharing and thanks for a chance to win a free month.

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  67. Can't wait to give it a try! Nice design BTW! :-)

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  68. Thanks for the intro - I've been meaning to have a play, but like you I don't do instructions - I will now go and watch the video :-)

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  69. That looks awesome, and we have only Macs, so it would be great. Love your design too -- thanks!

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  70. Thank you. I'd like to give this a try.

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  71. Really exiting news! Can't wait to sign up!

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  72. Your review is so helpful, thank you. I think I might give this a try.

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  73. I am pretty computer challenged and I have not tried designing on it so this would be an awesome experience. Thanks for the chance.

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  74. What a fun block. I'm definitely looking forward to giving this tool a try.

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  75. This sounds great! As one with no design program experience, I've been looking for something more approachable. Thanks!

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  76. I'm wondering: does it allow you to make and print out paper piecing templates for blocks that you design?

    em_komiskey at yahoo dot com

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  77. Would love a chance to work with this new to me tool.
    Shawn

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  78. Thanks for the review! The Treadbias team has done a lot of updating based on suggestions from those trying it out and it has really evolved! What a great tool!

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  79. This sounds really cool, thanks for the give away

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  80. The modern fabric choices and quilty math figured out already sound SO great! If I don't win, I'm signing up.

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  81. The whole idea of designing a quilt had me overwhelmed, so I hadn't even considered it! This looks like something that even I could do! Thanks for the great review and the chance to try it out.

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  82. That looks amazing and I love your design :)

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  83. That looks great! Thanks to Treadbias! Can't wait to try it!

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  84. This looks great!
    chrissherman1669@yahoo.com

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  85. Yay I am excited to try this out! I do have a PC that I use for work but I love my Mac more so I never turn on the pc and I was wanting the EQ for that reason but I did not wanna deal w/ the PC.. off to check this out!

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  86. I have been looking for a way to get started, right now I am working on paper :-)....thanks for sharing.

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  87. Having just bought a PC laptop to run my Electric Quilt software, and realizing that I am not a PC girl, I am really thankful for the review!

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  88. What an awesome program! Nice giveaway too! Thank you. :)

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  89. I love the quilt design you came up with using the program. Makes me very interested.

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  90. I'd love to try. I still use graph paper and colored pencils, lol!

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  91. I've got an old version of EQ (5!) that I don't use often anymore but this seems like something I'd actually use. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  92. Interesting, I'd been looking for something new to try doing paper piecing patterns on, thanks for the review :o)

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  93. I would love to try this out! I'm still at the graph paper and wild scribbling stage of designing.

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  94. I keep meaning to sign up for this, thanks for the information and the push.

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  95. nice! can't wait to try it out. :) thanks for the chance to win a month!

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  96. Sounds good, particularly as it's good on a mac! Thanks for the giveaway.

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  97. This sounds great. As a Mac user, it's just what I've been looking for--in fact, I was reading a posting on Flickr on this topic last week. I'm headed over there to spread the word.

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  98. I have been scouting softwear to do this very thing...this post is perfectly timed! Thank you for the review AND the chance to win the giveaway. I very much like the quilt you designed and can't wait for you to show us the finished product!

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  99. This looks like a wonderful tool. I've been using EQ for years, but would love to have something web based that would work on a tablet.

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  100. Sounds like just the software program I need!

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  101. Can't wait to try this and to pass it along to my Mac quilting friends. My friend Robin is a graphic artist and a quilter and uses a Mac too and she is going to be so excited by this!!

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  102. I enjoyed meeting the Threadbias team at Sewing Summit last year - what a great tool!

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  103. I love Block base, but it's basically useless at designing a big quilt not all made of one block with no sashing, and I don't think I could justify the expense of EQ without knowing how much I'd be using it - this sounds more up my alley. Thanks for letting us know about it!

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  104. Thanks so much for this review. I also use a Mac which can limit options and I'm not proficient in Illustrator. A simpler, more user friendly options sounds awesome.

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  105. This looks like such an awesome tool! Can't wait to see it in action :)

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  106. This is amazing! I currently use GIMP to make all my quilts, this might be an excellent alternative.

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  107. I tried this out a couple of days ago without watching the video and I should probably go do that. I just got annoyed and shut it down. :)

    I would really like to try this as I have a really hard time translating my graph paper sketches to real life measurements and fabric requirements.
    Thanks Threadbias and Lee!

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  108. I am loving this! I would love to give it a try.

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  109. I'm so glad to read your review. I saw their booth at QuiltCon but didn't get a chance to play with it. Sounds like a fun program - not sure if it will drag me away from QuiltPro (which does have a mac version) but it might be nice to try it out.

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  110. The only thing that has kept me from this is that I wish it was an annual fee instead, I never love monthly subscriptions to things, but your pattern is fantastic, so I will probably suck it up and go check it out!

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  111. OMG this is amazing!!! Another Mac user and Chrome user here--as well as a loather of quilt math! This will be well worth it to me.

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  112. I played around with this when it was in the development stage. Loved it. Just have to finish my studio remodel and I'll be signing up. I have been using Numbers on my iMac to design block.
    godblessamerica.jan(at)gmail(dot)com

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  113. This could not be more timely for me! Can't wait to give it a go.

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  114. Thanks for the giveaway - I'd love to try this out.

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  115. I love the design you created using the Threadbias Design Tool!! And love that it does the math!!!

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  116. Your design is beautiful! I've been playing around with the free version, trying to figure it out.

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  117. I actually have a quilt design in mind and was just sitting around last night dreading all of the math I'd have to do! This would be great!

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  118. I would love to try out this program. I use EQ a lot but I don't always have my laptop handy. Web based might be good.

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  119. I tried it out with the free trial version. I think it is pretty useful from what I have tried to do with it so far. I have only done a few designs on graph paper and EQ is just not in my budget for as little designing as I do on my own.

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  120. Tried the tool last night and I'm beginning to fall in love with it. I had to go back and really follow the tutorial to get the hang of it, but now I'm thinking I need to get a subscription.

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  121. Wow....just tried it and love it!! Thanks for the opportunity to win a free month.

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  122. This looks like a really great tool! I can't wait to try it out!

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  123. Thanks for the chance to win!

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  124. This looks like a great tool.

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  125. I'm a Mac user - this software looks great! Your pattern is lovely!

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  126. Would love to win! Thanks for the giveaway. This looks like a lot of fun!

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  127. I had a look at their website. I think even I could figure this out! I might have to give it a try.

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  128. I'll have to check this out! I don't know if I'm ready to start fully designing quilts yet, but maybe a user-intuitive tool is just what I need to get me started :) My email is: cookiefaerie at gmail.com
    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  129. I am so excited to see this! I was directed by a designer once before to a book, that was suppose to be the bible of pattern design... that cost a small fortune and it was a huge waste of money. This has me really interested.

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  130. When I first heard about Threadbias and this tool, I was thrilled! It is wonderful that they are doing this blog hop, and thank you for your input! jb

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  131. Sounds like fun! I'm making a note to revisit Threadbias in the summer (when I'll have time to explore it properly)

    Sarah

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  132. Awesome! I'm so excited to try this out. I've already been over to Theadbias to sign up... can't wait for the weekend so I can play. :-)
    - sunshdws at yahoo dot com

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  133. I would love to check out the threadbias quilt tool! I'm wondering if the program can do the quilt math too in regards to cutting etc.

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    Replies
    1. Right now the only math help we offer is in the fabric calculations. While you can export designs and individual shapes, they currently are "finished" sizes. That means it would work for English Paper Piecing but for finding your cuts that need seam allowance, you would have to use your quilting ruler on the output shape.

      We are working on this though and hope to be able to roll out templates with seam allowances in the fairly near future. We announce all new features and bug-fixes in the version history in the forum for the Quilt Design Tool on Threadbias.

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    2. Also, in addition to individual templates with seam allowances (which will roll out first) we are working through a few technical issues and then will roll out generation of PDFs will full cut sheets.

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  134. Oooo, I'm giddy, just like you....graphic designer with Illustrator and a Mac. Love the analogy about the sledgehammer! :)

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  135. Yes, please! I have never had the courage to try to design anything...but can totally see myself trying this.

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  136. As a mac user this is WONDERFUL news! Thanks for the giveaway!

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In addition to my paid sponsors, I sometimes accept free fabric, notions, or tools in exchange for posting about it on this blog or my other social media platforms. But I pledge that this practice will never change one of my product reviews or lead me to use fabric or other items that are not "my style."

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Copyright and Permissions FAQ

Can I make a quilt that looks just like one of yours? Of course! You don't need my permission for that. But remember, it's polite (and helpful to others) to credit your source of inspiration.

Can I share one of your photos on my blog or website? Probably! But please contact me for permission first. Use of my photos for commercial purposes is prohibited.

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