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The Virtual Quilt, A

Newsletter for Computing Quilters

Number Twenty-Four * May 15,1998

Classifieds | Table of Contents

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SOFTWARE REVIEW: Two Foundation Piecing Programs

Foundation Factory Quilt-Pro Systems On CD-ROM, For Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 500+ Blocks $29.95

Sew Precise! The Electric Quilt Company On CD-ROM, for Windows 95 Only 1100+ Blocks $29.95

Given the current wild popularity of foundation paper piecing among quilters, it was inevitable that the clever programmers at Quilt-Pro and The Electric Quilt Company would come up with a way to computerize the process. Foundation blocks are already present in their quilt design programs, but these two CD-ROMs take the trend a step further to give us dedicated programs containing hundreds of blocks ready for sizing and printing, along with help files and tutorials for novice paper piecers.

Quilt-Pro was the first out of the starting gate with Foundation Factory, which appeared last year. The program requires Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, and installs easily and quickly from the CD-ROM. The entire program installed to a hard drive requires slightly more than ten megabytes of space, but in consideration of those who may have older computers with small drives, the installation routine provides the user the choice of a partial installation with the program running off the CD-ROM. I installed the program on three different computers -- a Pentium 166, a 486 laptop, and my old clunker 486-66 desktop -- and had no trouble at all. You are also given a choice at installation to install the blocks into your Quilt-Pro block directory (if you own the program) and/or to load a Quilt-Pro demo program.

When you open the program (it doesn't place a shortcut on your desktop, so you have to do that manually), Foundation Factory presents a clean interface made up of 35 category buttons near the top of the screen, a box below that for viewing up to 10 blocks at a time and on the left margin a column with three buttons: Print, Help, and Sewing Info.

It's a simple and logical enough screen, but I have two arguments with it. The first is that there is no way to customize it by resizing its elements. The second is that there seems to be a bit of wasted space, with an empty bar along the top and a good bit of empty space on the left side. With a little better planning either the category buttons or the quilt blocks (or both) could have been a little bigger without overcrowding.

The categories of blocks (there are more than 500 blocks in all) are relatively conventional, arranged alphabetically from Airplanes to Twists. There is an alphabet set, and nice selections of such old chestnuts as Log Cabins and Pineapples. Shoo-fly, Ohio Star, Monkey Wrench and other favorites are contained in the logically named "Traditional Blocks" category, and there is a good collection of cats, other animals, baskets, fans, etc. Also included is a collection of 28 paper-piecable borders.

Each block is displayed in about a 1-inch thumbnail with the block's popular name and filename below it. You select a block either by highlighting it with a left-mouse-click and pressing the "Print" button, or double-clicking the block, and another screen comes up that contains a view of the paper pattern, a color rendering of the finished block (both about two inches square) along with a menu of options for printing. These include boxes for selecting the block size you wish, the page margins, and checkboxes for mirroring the block (for iron-ons), printing in grayscale, drawing dashed lines, etc. Also from this nicely-designed page you can select English or metric measurements, change your printer settings, and go to the program's "Sewing Instructions."

Pressing the "Sewing Instructions" button takes you to the program's built-in browser, a stripped down, customized interface for reading the hypertext files that walk you through the foundation piecing process. You can customize this interface by substituting your favorite browser, but whichever you use the web-style help files are quite nice and certainly in tune with the current trend toward a single, browser-like interface with our computers.

From this view there is a contents bar that takes you with one click to a variety of different types of help, including overall Contents, Help Index, Block Index, How Do I?, Sewing Instructions, and FAQs. This button bar is configurable as well, if you want to put some particular page in the help files on it.

In their help files the folks at Quilt-Pro assume no prior knowledge of foundation piecing, and very clearly and meticulously walk the user through the definition of the technique, the different parts of the block patterns, and the exact instructions on sewing. There are discussions of the best types of paper to use, the pros and cons of using muslin foundations, and many other issues. After the introduction there is a step-by-step tutorial that goes through the steps in sewing a block, with very good illustrations and with tips on common mistakes and how to correct them. At the end of the tutorial there is further information on making quilts from your blocks and on using these blocks in the Quilt-Pro program to design quilts.

Since the primary purpose of these programs is to create accurate printed patterns, I tested Foundation Factory's ability to print accurate patterns in various sizes and on different printers. Theoretically, the program will print blocks infinitely large in size, but of course it's not often anyone wants a foundation block larger than about six or eight inches. The program defaults on most blocks to a four-inch block, and I printed four-inch, six-inch, and 14-inch patterns on both a Hewlett-Packard laser printer and an Epson Inkjet. On a four-inch pineapple block, the pattern was quite exact at 4 inches. A six-inch pineapple block was approximately 1/16 of an inch shy of the full six inches. On a two-part cat block, the patterns for the two pieces of a six-inch block when added together came a full 1/8 of an inch shy of the requisite length. While this may not seem like much, over 8 blocks this can make a quilt an inch off. It appears the inaccuracies may increase as block size increases, so it's probably a good idea to measure your patterns before you use them to know exactly what you're dealing with. Blocks can be sized in the program in increments of 1/4 of an inch.

Quilt-Pro has recently lowered the price on Foundation Factory from $39.95 to $29.95, and is also promising a Macintosh edition. In addition, a "Designer Edition" containing 300 blocks from Carol Doak's books, became available on May 27. It is also priced at $29.95.

Sew Precise! is the very recent (April 1998) entry of The Electric Quilt Company in this software category. Being second has its disadvantages, but it also has compensations. Whatever Electric Quilt may have lost in early market share, they have used the time to develop an excellent program and they appear to have improved in many ways on Quilt-Pro's version of this product.

The first and most obvious improvement is that Sew Precise! has more than twice as many blocks in its library, at 1100-plus. The blocks are contained in two collections, "Old Favorites" and "New Inspirations." The first of course contains most of the traditional blocks, including log cabins, pineapples, diamonds in squares, and a variety of stars. The second collection focuses less on pure geometric blocks and more on representational blocks of everything from trains to garden tools, along with a variety of holiday and horticultural subjects.

The main screen contains a "button" bar across the top using representations of real (sewing) buttons labeled "Go Online," "Print," "How To" and "Help." On the left margin is a conventional directory tree containing the two major collections along with subcategories of blocks. These can be expanded and contracted, and the tree is used to select the screen full of blocks you wish to appear in the box on the right two-thirds of the screen. One nice aspect of this main screen, besides its efficient use of space, is the fact that you can customize it as you wish. You can move the center bar to the right or left, and can completely eliminate the directory tree if you wish to look at a full screen of blocks.

In addition you can right-click on the block window and be given an array of choices to customize that. You can show two, three, or four rows of blocks (with the blocks adjusting in size accordingly), can choose to see all the blocks as line drawings, in grayscale, or in full color, and can turn on or off a "Tooltip" feature which displays the name of the block when you move the cursor over it.

Sew Precise!'s help and sewing instructions are written in a more conventional Windows Help style rather than in a mini-browser, but this is not a drawback. The elementary instructions on foundation piecing and the tips and tricks are very well-composed and should help both the novice and experienced piecer in learning and improving their techniques. As in Foundation Factory, there is a separate section on sewing together multi-part blocks.

I performed the same printing tests on Sew Precise! and the accuracy of the printed foundation was better than I found in Foundation Factory. Both four-inch and six-inch blocks, including multi-part blocks, were exactly the right measurements.

You can also import the blocks from Sew Precise! into your Electric Quilt design program, but this is not nearly as easy to do as it is in Foundation Factory. The program provides detailed instructions, but due to the peculiarities of EQ3, which is a DOS-based program, and its system of projects, using these blocks in electronic quilt design requires a few workarounds. Experienced EQ users should have few problems, however, and for newcomers the instructions are quite detailed.

Other things that are not as easy in this program include the choice of English or metric measurements. The desired measurement in Sew Precise! must be selected at installation and cannot easily be changed later. You also cannot pull up the block print screen by double-clicking on a block. Instead you must select one by clicking on it and then click on the print button at the top of the screen. The default block "frame," which shows which block you've selected, is white and is hard to see, but you can change it to a more prominent color if you wish from the right-click selection box.

The print block screen shows only one rendering of the block in either line, grayscale, or color, depending on your selection of block display type in the main window. There is a very good preview capability, however, which shows quite clearly what you will get on the printed page.

So which one of these programs should you buy? They are priced identically and each offers strong features for foundation piecers. Their interfaces are easy to use and their help files are thorough. The blocks in them are sufficiently different that you could buy both with very little duplication.

Which way you go may depend on which quilt design software you currently own. Compatibility with either Quilt-Pro or Electric Quilt is an important consideration for value-added to the program. If you have an older computer on which you are still using Windows 3.1, you will have to select Foundation Factory, as Sew Precise! works only with Windows 95.

If you aren't already committed to a quilt design program, and have Windows 95, the edge probably goes to Sew Precise! It has the largest block libraries and a nicer overall feel, plus more accuracy in the patterns it produces.


PCQuilt for Windows

PCQuilt for Windows is easy to learn and easy to use quilting software. The block and the quilt are on the same screen so you can see your quilt emerge as you design and color your blocks. Combine blocks in a variety of ways to see endless new designs. The program includes all the features that have always made PCQuilt easy and fun to use. Now with the new Windows version, PCQuilt will help you estimate your yardage, print templates, quilts and blocks, and has a friendly Windows interface with easy to use toolbars. PCQuilt comes with a extensive library of blocks, border, quilts, palettes and fabric patterns. Special introductory price, $75. PCQuilt is also available for the Macintosh. Visit our web site at

Nina Antze 7061 Lynch Road Sebastopol, CA 95472 1-800-731-8886

DESERT THREADS Custom Embroidery and Screenprinting

Want to make a splash at the next guild meeting or quilt show? We embroider Ocean Waves, Jacob's Ladder, Shoo-fly and three other popular quilt designs on t-shirts, sweatshirts, and large zippered tote bags. Available in a variety of colors on six different colored garments, these designs will be the envy of your quilting friends.

We also specialize in custom logos for quilt guilds and businesses. Also available are quality embroidered custom labels for quilt backs. No minimum quantity is required and vendor inquiries are welcome.

E-mail us for more information at or visit our website at

You can take a look at our designs and order online using our automated form.

Desert Threads 195 Regier Springs Drive Sparks, NV 89436 (702) 425-2726


We are a cottage industry located just outside of Yosemite National Park. We specialize in clothing and patterns for quilters and for people who love quilts.

We offer t-shirts and sweatshirts in sizes from medium to xxx-large. All of our quilts are machine pieced. Most of our patterns are easy enough for beginning quilters. The photo at right shows our watercolor sweatshirt called "Kristie's Watercolor." There are 361 pieces in the quilt. Come see what else we have to offer at our website at !

Or e-mail for more information to

The Quilt Block P.O. Box 127 Midpines, CA 95345

(209) 742-5418 Fax: (209) 742-7662


Combining the best features of metal and leather thimbles, My Favorite Thimble's tough, colorful, rubbery surface grips the needle for wonderful stitch control, while the metal base guarantees that you never have to worry about sticking your finger. This thimble is a breeze to pick up or put down when you need to switch to another task.

New for Spring! - My Favorite Thimble now comes in two styles. You can choose between the standard royal blue, and my new embellished version on which I have added colorful free-form designs. Both styles work equally well, the embellished one just puts a smile on your face.

To order, send $6.00 for the standard or $10.00 for the embellished thimble along with your choice of size to:

Chris Hanner & Company 3687 Coldwater Lane Snellville, GA 30039 E-mail:


The MINI DUST-IT. Genuine sheepskin duster on a 6" stick that is perfect for picking up dust and lint from your sewing machine and serger. Soft, beautiful sheepskin won't scratch polished surfaces. Picks up the lint and tiny threads; doesn't spread them around. Prevents lint build-up. Inexpensive way to protect expensive sewing machines and sergers. Fun and handy to use. Also works great on the computer.

Price: $3.50 each including mailing.

To order send check to Silver Dollar Sheep Station, 5020 Winding Way, Sacramento, CA 95841. 800-887-8742. E-mail:

SPECIAL LIMITED TIME OFFER: Because we manufacture the Mini Dust-it to a very high standard, we currently have a supply of slightly imperfects. They may be thinner and not as pretty or have some other defect, but they still work great! And best of all we offer these to you for just $1, including postage. You can order them at the address above and enjoy this wonderful product at a bargain price!


Special offer from DESIGN PLUS -

**THE BLOCK BOOK**- Judy Martin- Available NOW!

Request order information & SAVE MONEY by ORDERING from Design Plus.

We have a new FREE pattern each month to download and enjoy.


P. O. Box 273, Esperance NY 12066

ANTIQUE QUILT & TEXTILE CONVENTION. May 21-23, 1998. Held in Lowell, MA, the birthplace of the American Textile Revolution. Features private tours of museums and conservation centers as well as lectures by noted curators, authors, appraisers and conservationists. For more information, write Hickory Hill Antique Quilts, Box 273, Esperance NY 12066 or see


Quilt Shop Service -- Discount Prices

**New: Save on Fabric!** PineTree is now discounting fabric! With more than 2000 bolts on the floor, more fabric goes on the website catalog each week, at prices 20% off retail. Don't miss PineTree's **New** Stash Stockers(tm), the exciting selections of six fat quarters from top manufacturers!

Shopping online for quilting supplies is now easier than ever! PineTree Quiltworks now offers a secure server for credit card transactions! Just scope out the website catalog at and place your credit card order from the ***new*** secure website order form. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover are welcome.

PineTree's your source for discounted quilting supplies and books! PineTree offers attentive customer service and prompt shipping, along with website convenience and 20% discounts!

Watch the website for more fabric! New selections just posted, and more on the way!

PineTree now carries the complete line of EQ software and related products -- at discount prices. We've just received EQ's New SEW PRECISE stand-alone software for foundation piecing, and we love it! It joins EQ 3 and Block Base software and the books, TOO MUCH FUN, EQ3 SIMPLIFIED: The Basics, and the EQ3 BLOCK BOOK.

You'll find a huge selection of batting, from Quilter's Cotton fine cotton batts to the full lines of Hobbs' and Fairfield's cottons, blends, and polys. Look for tools to make applique easier and more fun; fabric and hand care products; pencils and markers; templates and template plastic; needlecraft gloves; rotary cutters and related supplies; rippers, clippers, snippers, and scissors; machine sewing needles; seven (!) brands of hand sewing needles -- including Jeana Kimball's renowned Foxglove Cottage needles; basting systems; thread, including Mettler and Gutermann cotton sewing and quilting, Tire silk sewing, and Sulky rayon, metallic, and sliver, and *new* Roxy 100% cotton thread on economical 1200-yard spools; patterns ... and more. There are many more books at PineTree than you'll find in the books listing online, so if you don't see what you want, ask for it! All books are discounted 20%.

Check out the catalog on the web at Free with each order: a hard copy of the catalog and a Mettler thread color card!

PineTree is online to answer questions about quilting products at


Gridded Geese(c) is a unique paper foundation method for mass-producing Flying Geese units up to 24 at once (no kidding!).

Schoolhouse Enterprises, inventors and manufacturers of this revolutionary product, offers both an on-line ( and printed version of their catalog. They search for items for quilters (and friends of quilters) which are unique and often overlooked by other catalogs you might connect with. Their newest catalog, hot off the press, offers such interesting items as Photos-to-Fabric(tm) photo transfer paper, Danforth Pewter jewelry and buttons, and the Ott Light... all at discounted prices! And while you're visiting their web site, be sure to check out their on-line catalog for their Monthly $pecial$!! (Hot Tip: Also check the Planet Patchwork Mystery Quilt page for another special!)

And while you're visiting their web site, be sure to check out their on-line catalog for their Monthly $pecial$!! If you're not able to access their web page, just e-mail Schoolhouse Enterprises ( with your "snail mail" (post office) address for your FREE CATALOG and Sample of Gridded Geese(c)! (Sorry, but samples are only available in the printed catalogs.)


Perfect Square's mother is pregnant and about to have a new product. Perfect Triangle is due any day now. Perfect Triangle is also a REUSABLE iron-on design but it will make quarter square triangles instead of half-square triangles.

Perfect Square is growing up now and has gotten a job at a creative quilt pattern company and is doing quite well. In fact, patterns are being written exclusively for Perfect Square. See the Perfect Square web site at fore details.


ARTFABR!K now carries a Color Card for their extraordinary hand-dyed perle cotton threads available in sizes 3, 5, 8 and the finest, size 12. Please send $7 plus $1 for shipping to ARTFABR!K, Laura Wasilowski, 324 Vincent Place, Elgin, IL 60123. E-mail


Beautiful hand Dyed Fabric perfect for piecing, applique and pictorial quilts. Colors range from a sunrise spectrum of mauves, pinks, and golds to deep purples, blues and teals. Available in the following convenient packages:

8 step color progression- fat eighth cuts- 1 yard $25.00
12 step color wheel- 6"x22"cuts 1 yard $25.00
24 step color wheel- 6"x22" cuts 2 yards $45.00
  10" squares 1.5 yards $35.00

Send a self addressed, stamped envelope for free samples and full price list or to order send check or money order to:

Jay Dee Designs
18640 South Lowrie Loop
Eagle River, Alaska 99577



Our advertisers, both here in the newsletter and at the Planet Patchwork website, have found TVQ to be an effective and economical way to reach thousands of online quilters. Ads in the newsletter are only $5 each (up to 100 words, inquire about longer ads) or 3 for $10, and there are also attractive packages available which combine newsletter and website ads. For more information e-mail or visit We specialize in helping small quilting-related businesses gain exposure on the internet.

In This Issue:

Following is a list of the rest of the stories in this issue of TVQ. In order to read them, you must be a subscriber. Subscribing online here and following up with the small subscription fee will entitle you to eight issues of TVQ, including this one. You will receive TVQ every six weeks by e-mail, and will be issued a password to access it here at Planet Patchwork.

Subscribers: Please report any password problems to Rob Holland. Be sure to include your name & e-mail address. We will try to resolve all password problems within 24 hours. Thank you!

And here's what's inside!

Patricia Littlefield gives us the guided tour of the four quilt shops on the corners of Hawaii's Big Island. She also introduces us to some very interesting people!

Rob and Lynn Holland give two different views on thimbles. They may be small, but they make a big difference!

Lynn Holland takes a restrospective look at Eleanor Burns, who had a great influence on her life as a quilter.


Like any news publication, TVQ is always hungry for information about new developments in the area we are trying to cover. If you have an idea for a story, or want to tell the world about something you are doing which relates to computers and quilting, we'd like to hear about it.

We'd like news of new classes starting up to teach quilt design on computers, or new approaches to that teaching. New products, maillists, World Wide Web pages, etc., are all fair game, and we'd appreciate any tips you can provide. Send your tips by e-mail to

If you have a comment about an article, a complaint or a correction, we're glad to hear that, too, and may publish some comments as letters to the editor. Again, these may be sent to

Editor and Publisher: Robert Holland, Decatur, GA

1998 by Robert Holland. All rights reserved. This file may not be reproduced in any form except to be printed out for the personal use of its owner without the expressed, written consent of the copyright holder.


If you would like to see the rest of this newsletter here, and have it appear in your e-mail about every 6 weeks for the next year, all it requires is a small contribution of $5.00!

That buys you 8 issues (including this one) of news and in-depth features. We are now also offering a two-year subscription option, 16 issues for $9.00.

In upcoming issues you will find more in-depth reviews of quilt design software, more profiles of quilters, as well as profiles of online quilting communities. These features will be interspersed with news of developments in the quickly changing and expanding world of online quilting.

To receive a free sample of a recent issue, e-mail rholland@ and one will be sent to you.

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