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In Myrna Giesbrecht's article, Growing Pains, she outlines how she discover how to take the fabrics found on the Stash CD and turn them into pattern fills to be used in CorelDRAW. She even includes the instructions on how to do this! These same ideas can be used with Adobe Illustrator and other graphic programs that use pattern fills


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

Issue 8, March 2000
Editor: Sharla Hicks
Newsletters index for all issuesTable of contents for this issue

Growing Pains: Learning to create pattern fills for CorelDRAW from the Stash Fabric CD

© Myrna Giesbrecht

Ouch, it hurts! Deciding to maintain a website may have been one of my best decisions but enduring the growing pains of learning new software is, well, painful! Already this year, I've switched from WordPerfect to MS Word and learned to develop a website using FrontPage 2000. I'm learning Adobe Acrobat and in the process of developing patterns in PDF so they can be downloaded directly from my website - - without the expense of packaging, shipping and handling charges and no wait for customers. It's a great concept several sites are already using. Unfortunately it also means learning how to use new toys.

While I've written five books in the sewing/quilting industry, my claim to fame is patterns complete with pressing instructions. By that I mean I provide instructions on which way to press the seam allowance using it as a tool to quickly and easily produce well matched design lines and flat even quilt-tops - a technique as wonderful as rotary cutting and strip piecing once you've learned it.

That's where the pains began. To illustrate pressing instructions, small arrows are drawn on the quilt diagram and a back view is provided so readers can see what's happening on the flip side. The standard quilting software can't produce those images. Up until now I've used CorelDraw 3.0 but needed to upgrade without the expense of a full illustration package. Corel Select is a combination of CorelDraw 7.0 and Corel PhotoPaint - a basic draw package for a reasonable price of $99 Cdn.

Since my main goal was to draw quilts that looked like real quilts, Corel Select was not all that I needed. I wanted patterns and fills that looked like real fabrics you could buy on the shelf. For that, I bought Stash, a CD of over 2000 current fabric scans. It's amazing. I've been sitting here clicking through my virtual fabrics like a fabricholic in a quilt shop, intrigued to see on screen the fabrics I have in my stash. I also ordered Quilt-Pro to incorporate the virtual fabrics into my quilt designs and publish them to the web.

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Both programs have tutorials that are well worth following. Half the pain of new software is not knowing what to do with all those options. Though it can't answer everything, most questions are handled in the tutorial. With sewing specific software it's not as easy but for mainstream Microsoft and Corel products I've hired private tutors to come into the house and give me a couple hours of instruction. They get kind of cross-eyed when I say we're going to make a quilt but pretty soon they're having as much fun as I am.

Using Quilt-Pro I painted blocks, flipped, rotated, set on point, added borders, calculated yardage and printed templates for appliqué designs. I learned to use the polygram tool and drew the Rhododendron block on the circular grid and amazed even myself. The varieties of grids available in this package are worth the price alone. These aren't available in CorelDraw. AND, using virtual fabrics, I've made quilts that look like real quilts and had a ball. But, after all that fun, I had to get back to work starting with illustrating a Sample Plan for my website so readers would know what a pressing plan is all about.

That's when I made an amazing discovery. I learned I could take the bitmaps from Stash and import them into CorelDraw, make a pattern fill out of them and then use those fills to create my designs. This meant I could create a stash of virtual fabrics as pattern fills within CorelDraw without working back and forth between programs. Here's how it works:

In Stash, after opening a library of fabrics:

1. Choose a fabric by selecting it.

2. Export by clicking on File and then selecting Export Selected Fabric.

3. In the Export Bitmap box, choose a directory to save the bitmap to and name it before clicking save.

Stash dialogue box
Click on for larger view

In CorelDraw:

1. On a new page, from the File Menu select Import.

2. When the import box comes up, go to the directory where you stored the exported bitmap, select it and click on Import.

3. The bitmap appears on the screen. Do not resize it. Resizing affects the clarity of the pattern. Instead zoom in on it.

Import Dialogue box in CorelDraw
Click on for larger view

4. Click on the Tools Menu: (see below example)

  • Select Create, and from the flyout box select Pattern.
  • In the Create Pattern box choose full color and click on okay. A Marquee appears.


Corel Tools Menu
Click on for larger view

5. Draw the marquee around the bitmap being careful to get the entire pattern without any of the white background. When you release the mouse button, the Create Pattern box appears. Click on OK.

Marquee Box
Click on for larger view

6. Choose a directory to save the pattern fill to, name it and click on save. The fabric scan exported from Stash and then imported to CorelDraw has now become a pattern fill and can be used to fill any drawings you create. Close the page with the bitmap on it. There's no need to save as the bitmap has been changed to a pattern and is still available in Stash.

In CorelDraw: Save the bitmap image as a Pattern Fill example
Click on for larger view

Using the patterns is easy. For example, to illustrate the Sample Plan at my website, I drew a basic Four-patch block, filled it with patterns created from Roberta Horton and Benartex fabrics, developed a 4 x 6 layout, added a border and binding and exported it to my web page and… it worked. Then I created a step-by-step pattern so readers could actually make the Sample Plan and experience the benefits of pressing plans.

Examoke if filled patches
Click on for larger view

Wow! From there I went on to illustrate the website further, draw a Block of the Month and started putting together patterns for resale. . You can check it out at

Sound simple. Well now that I know what I'm doing it is but only after the growing pains. It's been months of learning new software, program after program. The results so far are even better than I'd anticipated but sometimes I've felt like I'm spinning my wheels. It's taking so long to get the resale patterns together but I'm almost there.

Without these learning curves I couldn't have accomplished my goals. Now that I'm past the growing pains, the potential is incredible and with a couple weeks I will have several patterns available. One more program to go and then maybe I won't have to upgrade for another 10 years. Yeah I know - Not Likely!

For a person who swore she'd never have a computer in her house, I've come a long way with a business that is both home and Internet based. Learning these new programs is nothing short of painful but it's also creative and inspiring so I guess I'll massage that sore spot, take a painkiller if it gets too bad and keep on growing. It's way too fun!

Myrna Giesbrecht is an artist who writes about, teaches, and creates textile art. She lives in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. Visit her website or email her at


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