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This is the first in a new series of articles with ideas, hints, and tips for using Electric Quilt. This one cover how to add scanned pictures to Electric Quilt quilt designs by Patti R. Anderson. A back door to method that produces great results.

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


January Issue 11: 2001
Editor: Sharla R. Hicks
Newsletter index for all issuesTable of contents for this issue

This Electric Quilt Tip is written by Patti R. Anderson and is the first of series that Patti will doing for Computer Quilting BYTES. Patti Anderson is a quilt teacher, quiltmaker and designer from Rainelle, West Virginia.  Her husband is a pastor in Rainelle and they have two college age daughters.  All three are patient and loyal supporters.  Patti bought her first Electric Quilt software in 1993 with moneys she received as grant from the local Arts Council.  The rest is history. 

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 EQ4 classes, as well as other quilt classes.

EQ Photos-as-Fabric

by Patti R. Anderson
(A tutorial on how to use photo images as fabric in EQ)

Whenever anyone says, "I wonder if we can do this in EQ?" something strange comes over me.  My adrenaline starts pumping, my brain starts working overtime, and then I jump to the challenge.  Hey, I never said I was normal. :-)  Recently on the InfoEQ mail list, someone asked if there was a way we could add photo images to our quilts in EQ4.  After a little trial and error, I discovered a way that we can import photo images into EQ4 and make it look like we have photo transfer blocks in our quilt. 

Quilt example

I knew that we would have to use the Import fabrics feature in EQ4, but I needed to be check to see if we could predict how the fabric falls into a quilt layout.  I played around and studied how the fabric tiles in a quilt layout.  Look below at the image of a quilt layout with four blocks set 2 x 2 in the center, and Corner Block Borders.  I chose a fabric already in EQ4 that had a large single motif so that I could easily see the tile repeats.  Fabric always tiles from the upper left hand corner (northwest). If you look at the northwest corner of the blocks in the quilt center (look at the red flower) you can see that the fabric tiles separately for each. In the border, fabric tiling is separate for each border and each corner block.  In the top and bottom borders you can see that the fabric tile repeats due to the larger width.

Once I was sure that fabric tiling was consistent in the way it falls in a quilt layout, I knew we could make a "photo image fabric tile" to fit a quilt block.  Before you think I'm nuts, let me show you how I did it step by step.
What you need:
1. Create the Quilt Layout.  Since this process involves dimensions by pixel, you will need to get your quilt made in EQ4 first.  If you change the quilt center layout or the borders, the photo-as-fabric will need to be resized.
2. Measure the space.  Have your quilt on the Worktable.  Click on the Snapshot tool  and take a snapshot of JUST the blank block/space where you want to place your photo image.  Choose Copy to Windows Clipboard from the Export Snapshot dialog box. (At this point you can minimize EQ4, so that you can bring it up later in Step 8.)

3. Find pixel dimensions.  Open Irfanview.  In the Edit menu, click on Paste (or use Ctrl+V).  You should now see the image of the blank space you copied to the Clipboard.  Click on the Information button in Irfanview and in the Image Properties box, look at the line that says Original size.  Write these pixel dimensions down.  My space is 209 x 208.  I didn't get it quite square, but that's OK. 

4. Crop the photo image.  Open your photo image file in Irfanview.  Irfanview cropping tool is ready to use as soon as your image is showing.  My original photo bitmap is a rectangle and I need it to be square, so I'll do that first.
Point the cursor at an approximate starting point and while holding down the mouse, drag a box to select the area you want to crop, releasing the mouse when you're done.  The cursor changes to a plus sign. If you don't like the selection, click off the image and start again.

If you watch the blue heading at the top of the Irfanview window, you can see the dimension change as you make your selection to crop.  This will help you make it somewhat square. 

Once you have made your selection, in the Edit menu, click on Crop (Ctrl+Y).  the area you selected is now in Irfanview.

5. Resize the image.  In the Image menu, click on Resize/resample.  Type in the pixel dimensions you wrote down in Step 3, in the New size boxes.  I rounded up to 210 x 210.  Click OK.

6. Decrease colors to 256.  In the Image menu, click on Decrease Color Depth.  Click to check 256 colors. Click OK.

7. Save as bitmap.  Now save your new photo image as a bitmap.  In the File menu, click on Save as. Give the file a name and under Save as type, select BMP-Windows bitmap.  You now have a new bitmap resized and ready to import as fabric into EQ4.

8. Import photo bitmap as fabric.  We're almost there now.  Go back to EQ4.  In the Library menu click on Fabric Library.  In the Fabric Libraries box, click on Import.  Navigate to find and select your new photo image bitmap file. Click Open. You should now see the image in the Fabric Libraries, click on it and then click Copy to add it to the fabrics in your project file.  Click Close.  The image will be added to your fabrics.  Please note that these photos-as-fabrics will be larger and you will only see a portion of it in the Fabric Sketchbook.

9. Add the new photo fabric to the quilt.  With your quilt on the Worktable, click on the Paintbrush tool, select your fabric from the menu. It will be the last one in the mini Fabrics & Colors Sketchbook.  Point and click on the blank space to fill with your new photo fabric.  Save to Sketchbook. Save the project file.

fabric & color dialogue box

10. Perfect fit!  You now have a very close facsimile of a photo transfer quilt in EQ4.  Now you can play with fabrics in EQ4 before you make a REAL quilt! 

Extra hints and things to remember:
  • If you change the borders or the quilt layout in any way, the photo fabric tile will not be centered.
  • EQ4 projects using photos as fabric result in BIG file sizes.  Don't push your luck in trying too many photo fabrics in one project file. (ask me how I know...<grin>)
  • Take the time to add your new photos-as-fabric to the My Library files for safekeeping.
  • In the Sketchbook, the photo will not tile correctly in the quilt.
  • Practice, practice, practice. You've heard it before, yes? This photos-as-fabric method will be easier the more you play with it.

Visit this page on my Patchpieces website to see the photo transfer quilt of lighthouses that I am going to make for my daughter Bethany.
The lighthouses have already been transferred to real fabric and I almost have all the gorgeous blue fabrics that I will need to make it.  That is what this exercise was all about, right?

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 EQ4 classes, as well as other quilt classes.

Electric Quilt Software review, click here

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:
YesUcan, a database compiled from questions and answered shared by members of the Info-EQ mail list.
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

Past Articles for Electric Quilt 3
Win 95: here's a quick way to change the name of an EQ 3 project file by Penny McMorris of Electric Quilt.
FAQ: Electric Quilt 3 for DOS printing problems answered by Penny McMorris of Electric Quilt Company (these problems are not associated with Electric Quilt 4 which is a Windows 95/98/NT program


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