The Free Motion Quilting Project: From Sketch to Quilt

Thursday, September 22, 2016

From Sketch to Quilt

Yesterday I shared a video on how I designed a wholecloth quilt using mirrors and tried out my new Pivothead camera glasses.

Travis R asked a great question on YouTube - "After you have created a quilt design that you are happy with, what is the best method to transfer your paper design onto your quilt to be quilted?"

The answer is a bit complex so I decided to film a second video today to share how I take a tiny sketch and turn it into a quilt:

The program I use is a fairly outdated version of Serif Draw Plus. I know, I know, I should update it and probably enjoy a better experience, but I have a whole bunch of excuses and the simplest one is I'm lazy! I have lots of design files that use this version of the program and they won't be compatible with the upgraded version.

When it comes to vector design, the best advice I have is to start simple and allow yourself the time an space to learn the program. It's complicated, it takes time to understand all the steps, and even more time to learn how to keep things organized.

It's definitely worth it though! I've plugged away at this wholecloth design for two days and now have a perfect file that can be resized, printed, and turned into a gorgeous quilt.

I hope you've enjoyed this little mini series! Please let me know if you have more questions about this process. I may just turn on a camera and shoot a video to answer your question!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. How do you quilt the overlapping lines?

    1. The grid design is quilted by stitching a line, then travel stitching to the next closest line and quilt along it. You break it down line by line and it does take FOREVER to quilt, but it's definitely worth it with the rich grid texture it creates.

  2. Hi Leah,

    Thanks for this insight! I want to start exploring using software to design my quilts, so this video was exciting. It seems like I will have to take the plunge and buy a program at some point to take the next step. Just not sure what to buy?!? I see you are using serif. I'm wondering if you can share any info about how it compares to others out there, say Electric Quilt 7. Honestly,not even sure they are real even the same thing! After a quick online search, I can see that Serif DrawPlus X8 and EQ7 are similarly priced, but not sure which would be the more versatile and user friendly for novice quilt designer. Any advise would be appreciated!

    BTW: I loved the final design!! Hope we get to see a final product.

    1. Great question! Both programs are VERY different and do very different things. So Serif will be great for drawing any design from scratch, anything you can sketch. It also has a shapes tool which allows you to easily design squares, circles, hearts, stars, and flowers and customize them to the exact size you want. The center sun of my design for example was mostly created with the circle and star tool with very little actual drawing on my part because the program can create the shapes completely symmetrical for you.

      EQ7 on the other hand is great for designing QUILTS. They have a huge number of quilt block designs you can plug in and create and it does the math and fitting for you if you want to turn blocks on point, the size of the borders, etc. It's also wonderful for color matching because you can scan in pictures of your fabric and use them to color the quilt so you know exactly what it looks like.

      The downside is EQ7 was not created by the same people that created Serif - it is not user-friendly, some of the tools seem intentionally clunky and challenging to use. Drawing an applique block from scratch, for example, made me want to throw my computer out the window!

      But it's great for calculating fabric requirements, working with fabric colors, getting a layout and design set, etc.

      So personally I use both programs for quilt design, but for different things. I started with Serif and then got EQ7 later. I hope that helps!

    2. Thank you so much for this breakdown! I like doing the fabric math and color matching, so it sounds like Serif would be the better for me to splurge on first also. Thanks again!!


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