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This is the second article in a new series of articles by Patti R. Anderson with ideas, hints, and tips for using Electric Quilt. This one covers developing simple borders in Electric Quilt quilt designs.

Expressive Quilters' Newsletter
Supporting The Expressive Quilter In Tradition, Innovation, Art & Computer Quilting

May 2002
Editor: Sharla R. Hicks
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Several years ago a lady in my church gave me a box of quilting odds and ends that her mother had left her when she passed away.  Along with some hand peiced blocks, there were several simple shapes cut from thin pieces of wood.  You could tell these templates had been used for marking something because of the years of pencil marks along the edges.  Also in the box were several sketches of how these shapes were used to create repeating quilting designs for borders! 

Simple Shape Quilting Designs for Borders

Of course, I started thinking of how I could do this in Electric Quilt.  Now you can share in my discoveries too and learn the basics of how to use simple repeating shapes to make wonderful quilting designs for your quilt borders.  The real advantage of creating them in EQ is that you can print out a custom-sized template that will be guaranteed to fit your border no matter what length they are!

Please note that this tutorial will require a lot a playing on your part!  It's impossible for me to give every little detail in a short tutorial, so have fun with this, OK? 

Note:  These exercises assume that you are familiar with the basics of using EQ4, such as opening/naming a project file, saving a project file and how to retrieve blocks from the Block Libraries.  It will also be very helpful if you know how to add new blocks to the User Libraries so that you can use them in other projects.  If you need help with these basics, please refer to your EQ4 manuals:  "Getting Started" and "EQ4 Design Cookbook."

Here are three examples of what we will be working on in this tutorial:

All three of the above designs are made by repeating one shape in PatchDraw.  Can you spot it?  It's just a simple diamond shape like the one below.  Are you surprised?


In this tutorial I will show you how to use a diamond to create many different border quilting designs and once you learn the steps, you can let your imagination go free and create your own unique border quilting designs.

To make these repeat designs, it will help if you turn on the Advanced Drawing Features in EQ4.  You could create them without the features, but being able to use Snap to Grid and Snap Patch to Grid makes it much easier and will result in nice symmetrical designs. 

Hint:  Everything you need to know about the Advanced Drawing Features is in the EQ4 on line Help files.  Click on the Find tab and do a search for "advanced" (without quotes) and read all about it!

1. Click on File, Preferences.

2. In the Preferences dialog box, click on the Drawing Options tab.  Place a check in Advanced drawing features. Click on OK.

3. While on the Block Worktable, click on the Block menu and click on Drawing Board Setup.  Notice that there are two new tabs in the Drawing Board Setup, EasyDraw and PatchDraw.

4. Click on the PatchDraw tab in the Drawing Board Setup.  For this tutorial only, under the PatchDraw tab, place a check beside Snap to Grid and Snap Patch to Grid.

NOTE:  Please remember to turn these two features OFF when you are done with this lesson.  Make a note for yourself of all the default settings, just in case you forget!  For most applique drawing, you do NOT want these two snap features turned on.

When you have these Advanced Drawing Features enabled, and Snap to Grid and Snap Patch to Grid are checked, continue with the tutorial.

Special Note:  YOU DO NOT NEED TO COLOR THESE QUILTING DESIGNS.  In fact, if you click on the Color tab, it will not look like a quilting design at all!  These designs will be used on Layer 3 of the Quilt Worktable only.  Placing them on Layer 3 keeps them *transparent* with only the lines showing.


1. In the Block menu / Drawing Board Setup, set the Snap to Grid at 24 x 6 and the Size to 12 x 3.  This will give us a nice long block to work out our designs.

2. On the PatchDraw Worktable, click on the Simple Shape tool and select the 60 degree diamond.  It's the fourth shape in the fly-out.

3. Point to the PatchDraw block and draw a small 2" wide diamond.  Notice how having the Snap to Grid on makes this so easy!  If this is your first time with Snap to Grid enabled in PatchDraw, you may want to practice drawing more diamonds until you get the feel of it.  You will soon discover how precise geometirc designs can be when these two snap features are turned on.

Draw a 2 inch diamond.

Click to select the diamond and move it around on the Drawing Board.  Notice how Snap Patch to Grid feature makes the diamond continue to snap to the nearest grid point.  The horizontal points of the diamond will most often snap to the grid, since they tend to be closer to the grid points.  However, if you move the patch closer to the block outline, the vertical points will snap to the grid.  After you play with this a little more, continue on to  Step 4.

Move the diamond and watch how it snaps to the grid points.

4. Move the diamond back to the center left side of the block.  Click on the diamond again to select it and then click on the black corner of the Select tool button to open the Symmetry pop-up.  Click on Clone.  The cloned diamond will automaticially be selected, so move it so that the left horizontal point snaps to the center of the original diamond. 

5. Continue cloning the diamond and moving the new one over to the right one half step each time until you reach the right side of the block, so that the points look like they make continuous linked diamonds.  The finished design has sort of an argyle look, don't you think?

If you want the end diamonds to look the same as those in the center, draw a smaller diamond to mimic the part that overlaps.

6. There are actually several ways you can repeat the diamonds or any shape to fill a long block like this.  One way is to use Clone in the Symmetry pop-up, like we did in Step 4 and 5.  If you want to create a design for a long block, like a border, you can save time by drawing a series of three or four diamonds and then selecting them all and cloning them, so that you fill the block faster.

7. Another way is to use Copy (Ctrl+C) and Paste (Ctrl+V).  This is one step quicker since the tools are always available on the left-hand tool bar or you can use the the hot keys.  If the Copy & Paste tools are not showing in your toolbar, go into the View menu and click to check Edit tools and they will automatically be added to your toolbar.

8. Still another way to create the repeats is to just draw the diamonds one at a time.  You may find you like to do it this last way when the block is not very long.

Hint:  Make use of the Notecard in the Sketchbook.  Enter any information that will help you if you need to edit your designs later on.  For example: Block size, Snap to grid points, size of diamonds, etc.



Now let's create a diamond cable border design using this same 60 degree diamond.  First, place a new PatchDraw block on the Drawing Board, keeping it the same size as in the first exercise above and keeping the same Snap to Grid points.  Snap to Grid and Snap Patc to Grid are still ON.

1. This time draw a 3" diamond beginning at the left side 1" from the top of the block.

2. Next, draw a second 3" diamond, beginning 1" from the bottom of the block, so that it overlaps the first diamond.

3. Select both diamonds, clone them via the Symmetry pop-up, or use copy & paste.  Move the copied set so that the left horizontal points of the new set touch the right points of the originals.

4. Repeat the cloning until you fill the block.  This is only a 12" block, but imagine what you can do with a longer one!

5. There are countless variations of the cable that you can create using this same diamond.  Place the diamonds closer together or further apart to make diamond cables of different widths.  Changing the size of the diamond will also give you a different look.  Increase the Snap to Grid points if needed to keep the cable centered on the block. 

You can create a multiple lined cable by drawing diamonds within diamonds and then overlapping the horizonal tips as we did in the simple diamond border. This would look really wonderful in actual hand quilting!


Now let me show you some other variations for border designs using this same diamond.  See if you can figure out how I did them!


All good border designs need matching corner motifs, right?  In EQ it's easier to create these as separate PatchDraw blocks.  Let me show you a few examples of corner motifs for the designs.  These can be as easy as one diamond or you can add more elements to the design to fill the corner block as desired.




You can also combine shapes...


You have a couple of options when it comes to saving your quilting designs.  Since we are using Patchdraw, you can save them with or without the block outline.  I usually save one of each.  I use the block with the outline for the actual pattern because it helps to see the edges when you are transferring it to the quilt.  I use the block without the outline to place on Layer 3 so that I won't have the outline showing.

Warning:  Your long border block designs will look really strange in the Sketchbook!  Everything will be squished into a little square.  That's why it's important to name your block and make use of the Notecards!

One last note about saving:  Be sure to save your border design blocks in the User Libraries for easy access for another project! 



Placing your border designs on a quilt border is where the magic happens in EQ.  Once the designs are placed on Layer 3 of the Quilt Worktable, we can move, rotate,  condense or expand them to make them fit.  We can even change the thread color if we want to.  It's very helpful to be try a border design on for size BEFORE we begin marking or stitching it on the quilt! 

Try these exercises to learn how to set your new border designs on the quilt.

Note:  Use the same project file as your quilt designs for this exercise.

1. On the Quilt Worktable, click on the Quilt Menu, point to New Quilt and click on Horizontal.  Click on the Layout tab, and change the Number of blocks to 2 x 2 and the Size of blocks to 6.00" x 6.00".

2. Click on the Borders tab.  Under Style, choose Corner blocks, and set the size of all borders to 3.00".

3. Click on the Layer 1 tab.  Set blocks of your choice into the quilt center or just leave it blank for now.  Color at least the borders with a solid color to make it easier to see the quilting designs.  This quilt setting is just for practice!

4. Click on the Layer 3 tab.  Click on the Set tool and from the Sketchbook Blocks menu, choose the simple diamond border design we created in the first section.  Point the cursor at the quilt and drag/draw a box to the approximate size of one of the borders.  Release the mouse and the blocks will pop into the drawn box.  Don't worry if it is not exact, we will adjust this later.  Set three more blocks so that you have a total of four border designs on the quilt.  One each for the top and bottom borders, and two for the sides.  Click on the Rotate tool and click on the block to rotate the side border stencils so that they are turned the correct direction. 

At any time you can use the Thread tool  and change the stencil *threads* to a color of your choice.  Click on the Thread tool and choose a solid color from the Palette.  Notice that the cursor changes to a needle and thread.  Click on the stencil block and your thread color will change to the color you chose.

5. Click on the Adjust tool.  Using the Graph Pad, select the top border and change the size to 12.00" x 3.00".  Repeat for the bottom border.  Click on one of the side borders and change the size to 3.00" x 12.00".  Repeat for the other side border.  (Note:  If the Graph pad is not visible on the Quilt Worktable, click on the View menu and click Graph Pad to turn it on.)  Once you have the stencils sized, move them into place over their respective borders.  You can use the position tools (x and y coordinates) on the Graph Pad to move them inot place exactly over the border.  Save the quilt to the Sketchbook when you are done.

6. Now let's see what happens when we change the size of the quilt center.  Click on the Layout tab and Set the number of blocks to 3 x 3.  Click on the Layer 3 tab.  Notice that the border stencils from the right side and the bottom are no longer in place. Use the Adjust tool and move them back to the borders.

7. Click on the Set tool and add four more stencil blocks to the quilt.  Size, color and rotate them as before and move them into place on the borders so that they overlap the previous stencils.  Again use the x and y coordinates to move them exactly into place. 

Overlapping is just one easy solution you can use to place the stencils on the quilt borders. Here are some other things you can do to make your stencil fit your borders:

  • You can lengthen or widen the stencil.  If you have an odd length border that does not divide equally in relation to the size of the stencils, increase the length via the Graph Pad in small increments until it fits!  It works similar to those sliding plastic stencils that are on the market now.
  • Another solution is to create a shorter length of the stencil when you draw the block.  The smaller size can make it easier to space them evenly acrolong borders.
  • Create your quilt first.  Make note of the border size and then draw your stencil block in EQ to custom fit the size.  Stencils for mini quilts can be drawn as a whole block.  Those for large quilts you can use the above suggestions.


There are several ways to use your new border stencils when you are ready to do your quilting.  First, print out the block as an Outline drawing or Quilting stencil.  In EQ4, you cannot change the line thickness of a quilting stencil printout, so if you want to use your pattern for tracing use Quiltine drawing for your printout.  If your block is long, you can go into Page Setup and change the paper size to Custom and type in your own size.  Note:  Some printers have a minimum and maximum width and height.  You will have to experiment a little to get the printout you desire.  Always check the Print Preview to be sure you are getting what you want!

Editor's Note: A good paper for printing long borders that tears away very easy is Quilt and Tear, we carry it in our store.

Marking the quilt top first:

  • Print out the block templates -- just as you would any appliqué template.  Trace the shape, such as the diamond, and cut it out carefully.  On the template, mark the center and any other lines needed for creating the border style you are using.  Then beginning in the center of the border and working out towards the corners, trace the the repeating shape as needed -- in the same manner as if you were drawing it in PatchDraw.  Since you sized it correctly to fit your virtual EQ4 quilt, the repeat template will fit just right!
  • Print out the actual border stencil or just a section of the repeating design, position it under the quilt top and then trace the design on the quilt border.  Use a light box if needed. 
Stitching the design through paper:
  • Small borders, or short repeats can be printed directly onto freezer paper. (Inkjet and bubble jet printers only!  DO NOT use freezer paper in a laser printer!) Cut the freezer paper to the desired size so that it will feed through your printer.
  • Print out a master copy onto regular paper and then trace the design on to tracing paper or thin paper that is especially designed for machine quilting.  I find it easier to print a copy of a repeat design as a master copy and then I trace the design on the stitchable paper, sliding the master copy as needed.
I hope you enjoy creating your own border stencils!  I have given you just the basics, but I am sure you and EQ can create some wonderful designs of your own!

Piecefully yours,


Patti has become notorious for stretching EQ to the limits of its potential and regularly adds lessons and tips for EQ users to her Patchpieces website. You will also find Patti on the Faculty at, where she teaches the intermediate and advanced Electric Quilt classes, as well as other quilt classes.

Hints and Tips for Electric Quilt User Series:

Gordon Cooper Series on Electric Quilt:
Customize the EQ Default Palette with your favorite fabrics so that it automatically opens when you start up the program
Block Size Considerations in Electric Quilt
The Electric Quilt Sketchbook

Patti R. Anderson Series on creative uses for EQ:
Insert Photo Scans Into a Quilt Layout in Electric Quilt. Patti R. Anderson. This new idea is going to make GREAT memory quilts!
Simple Shape Quilting Designs for Borders Patti R. Anderson. Design and print long runs for the border using simple quilt stencil motifs you design yourself.
Featured Photo Inspired Quilts designed in Electric Quilt by Patti Anderson shown on Sharla Hicks Simply Quilt appearance

More How-to and help for Electric Quilt Users:
Using Help Files Effectively in Quilting Programs. by Sharla Hicks
Clearing up the Mud surrounding Copyright for Electric Quilt, BlockBase, SewPrecise and their Support Books. by Penny McMorris
Electric Quilt Website Review by Sharla Hicks: a great resource for all EQ users
Info-EQ Archives -- how to use them by Penny McMorris of Electric Quilt
EQ's Stash Fabric CDs: How to Convert Fabric Bitmaps from Stash to CorelDRAW pattern fill by Myrna Giesbrecht
How to Create Tessellations using your Quilt Software Instructions for EQ, Quilt-Pro and PCQuilt by Sharla Hicks

more info here Electric Quilt Resources: Reviews, How-to information, articles by expert users of EQ, and more

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