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The ultimate sewing room companion

Review by Addy Harkavy

Quilt-N-Calc, in theory, sounded like a good idea, but I was skeptical because its promotional claims sounded too good to be true.   The software runs on a Palm Pilot running Palm OS 3.11 or later or a Pocket PC (PDA), and I questioned whether the system would justify purchasing a Palm Pilot Ė even a low-end one Ė for the purpose.   Having stated my misgivings, I wonít keep you in suspense:  Iím a believer.  Quilt-N-Calc is easy to use, delivers accurate calculations, can save time (even for math-savvy quilters), and is suitable for quilters of all skill levels.  Itís time to tell you what it is and what it does. 

What is Quilt-N-Calc?

Quilt-N-Calc is a software program that runs on a handheld PDA.  The user installs the software via cable from a desktop or laptop computerís CD.  For quilters who do not have a PDA Quilt-N-Calc will preload its software into a Palm device before shipping. 

What does it do?

The Quilt-N-Calc is amazingly versatile.  Though it wonít answer your front door or do your dishes, it offers an awe-inspiring range of functions, including figuring out how much fabric to use for patches in blocks and entire quilts, backings, bindings (you select binding type, fold type, joint type, and strip width), solid and pieced borders, and sashing.    You can also calculate setting triangles and batting.  It does it all on a project-by-project basis, so your calculations will be saved for later reference.  It also offers a Quick-Calc mode for on-the-fly calculations. 

How does it do it?

After you load the software, you use the PDA to enter your information, and Quilt-N-Calc does the rest.  Even folks who lack experience with PDAs (I had never used one before) will find the PDA easy to use with Quilt-N-Calc.   

Whatís it like to use it?

Using Quilt-N-Calc, compared with making calculations with a pencil and paper or even with a handheld calculator, is like the difference between walking and traveling in a jet.  The documentation Ė directions if you prefer Ė is clearly stated, easy to understand, and easy to follow.  Opening a project is a snap.  Once youíve opened a project, you select the quiltís elements, enter them into the project, and calculate to your heartís content.

Quilt-N-Calc currently offers calculations on the basis of a variety of traditional blocks made from patches; blocks made from strips such as log cabin and rail fence; stars such as Ohio star, friendship star, and others; geometric blocks, including snailís trail, flying geese, nosegay, and more; along with setting triangles, sashing, and borders.   Just to be complete, the program lets you calculate batting, backing, and binding.  All you have to do is enter the required information.  The Quilt-N-Calc data base also includes standard quilt sizes, decimal conversions, batting types, and quilting recommendations.   

The manufacturer claims that the system is easy to learn, user friendly, portable, copes with complex quilting math, fun to use, and saves time. Itís all true. 

Quilt-N-Calc will soon offer even more options, with more blocks, downloadable [from the Web] block modules, more pieced border options, block graphics with printable cutting instructions, calculations for adding sashing in an on-point setting, and a way to convert fabric requirements to fat quarters. 

At $89.95, with more goodies coming from the Web, Quilt-N-Calc offers a very powerful tool for the price.   It can be used in your sewing room or anywhere you go, unlike a desktop computer.  It runs on a Palm Pilot or Pocket PC, which is easy to carry in your pocket, handbag, or sewing bag, unlike a laptop computer.   If you have a PDA, thatís all you need.  If you do not have one, Quilt-N-Calc will sell you a Palm Zire 21 for $94.99.  Quilt-N-Calc offers accurate calculations and saves time.   

Quilt-N-Calc can be used on its own, but access to a PC makes it possible to print hard copies of your projects for future reference.  Those who do not have a PDA and wonder whether itís worth having one just to use Quilt-N-Calc may find that once such a device is in their hands, theyíll rely on it for keeping track of appointments, birthdays, shopping lists (such as fabric and notions lists for next trip to the fabric store), addresses, and telephone numbers.  Itís also a cool interactive reminder device. 

For further information, visit Quilt-N-Calc at www.quiltncalc.com



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