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Quilt Pro 5 for Mac OS X - First Look


by Christina Holland


It’s been a while – probably 6 years or more – since I last used Quilt-Pro. In that time, I’ve converted to full-time Macintosh use. I bought myself a handy little Mac laptop, running the latest operating system, OS X (10.4, aka "Tiger"). I’ve been designing my own quilts in the meantime, but to do so, I’ve had to run the Electric Quilt software on (gasp) my husband’s PC.


I’d really like to have quilt design software on my Mac. It’s the computer I use every day, the lightweight laptop I take everywhere with me. Shouldn’t I be able to do my quilt designing there, too?


I was glad to see a version of Quilt-Pro come out for Mac OS X, but I had reservations. On the one hand, Mac users desperately need a quilt design program that runs natively on the OS X operating system. On the other hand, the old version for the Mac (under OS 9) was clunky and crashed a lot. So how does Quilt-Pro 5 for the Mac stack up?


Well, it’s a lot more robust than I remember. I opened it up and designed three small quilts, with several original blocks. I had them all open at once, and it never crashed. So that’s good.


You can design your quilt with as many blocks as you like, in any size and configuration. Quilt-Pro has automatic selections under “quilt: layout” for quilts with either one repeating block or alternating between two blocks, or you can set it to “sampler” and place each block individually as you like it.


The block design tool took me a few minutes to figure out. I thought if I drew lines dividing the block into sections, I could then dump color into each section. Not so much. Doing it that way dumps one color over the whole block. In fact, you have to use the shape tools (triangle, rectangle, etc.) to define the areas, and then put color in each one. This makes me wonder what the point of being able to draw lines is. Maybe you can use the lines to sketch it out for yourself, and then overlay the shapes? I really don’t know.


Overall, the block tool works pretty smoothly, although I couldn’t get the shapes or lines to place at anything smaller than ¼ inch measurements (so, for instance, I couldn’t make a strip ¾ inch wide within a small block).  That may be a preference setting I wasn’t able to locate, though. Once you have your block done, you can click to close the window, and it will prompt you to save your block.


Then, there’s a button on the toolbar to let you place your new block, or one of a multitude from the block library, onto your quilt.


Here’s the main thing that bothered me about this product: there are way too many windows. Every button you push, you first get a little pop-up message in a new window telling you which button you just pushed. You have to click past that (although fortunately the first time any particular message pops up, it offers you the option of “never tell me that again”) and then your selection opens up, in a new window, of course.

The problem is, I’m working on a laptop. I have a 12” screen. There’s not a lot of real estate for so many windows. You’ve got your quilt window, your block design window, your color pallet, your toolbox, your fabric store, etc. They’re going to overlap, and some are probably going to get hidden. Now, the Macintosh OS X operating system has a solution for that, called “Expose.” You just push the F9 button, and all the windows sort of slide apart and get small enough that you can see what’s what, and when you click on the window you want, they all go back to full size but with the preferred window in front.


Unfortunately, Quilt-Pro doesn’t play nice with Expose. Push F9, and you get only the main window for whatever quilt projects you have open, and none of the ancillary windows. So if you’ve mislaid the toolbox, for instance, you have to start digging around and minimizing windows until it resurfaces. Not handy.


If Expose is too hard to program in, and I can see that it might be, a nice alternative might have been opening up new tabs on the main window, instead of a new window for everything.


Still, Quilt-Pro 5 is robust and fairly versatile. It will let you have several different quilt projects open at once. It’ll calculate the yardage you need of each fabric and let you either print that information or just see it on the screen.


Best of all, it’ll run on your Mac.

Quilt-Pro 5 For the Mac is available in our store!

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