- Editor's Rating
- Allows images of fabric to be imported into the design
- Has a library of ready to use block designs that can be filled in with fabric choices
- Offers unique features that let quilters design quilts faster than ever before
- Custom blocks are a bit limited when it comes to designing certain blocks
- App crashed a few times
- Does not help measure or calculate necessary fabric yardage, templates, or cuts
Quick TakeFor seasoned or beginner quilters, this app offers a fun and quick way to play around with fabric to figure out the best design and how everything will look together in the finished quilt.
Quilting is not just your grandmother’s craft. In the past, communities (sometimes guilds) of sewers would gather to share tips, try out new block patterns, and bond over a shared interest. Today, people are reinventing that community via the internet by hosting quilt-alongs, block of the month projects, and offering patterns and tutorials to download at the click of a mouse. This brings together quilters from all over the globe, keeping old traditions alive, and starting some new ones.
And now, there are even apps for quilters, recognizing the potential in electronic devices to help creative minds design and share with ease. QuiltWizard lets quilters create quilts, block by block, while also letting them incorporate actual fabrics into the design. No more rulers, colored pencils on graph paper, and hoping the final design turns out as imagined; it can all be done with the tap of a finger on a smartphone or tablet.
Forget Bejeweled, avid quilters everywhere will be playing with this app anytime they are away from their sewing room (well, at least whenever they forget their English Paper Piecing project, that is).
The app opens up on the Quilt tab, which features all of the quilts currently saved by the user; new quilts can be added by hitting the plus sign in the corner. There are two options for quilt layouts; blocks set straight (horizontal), or on point (diagonal). This changes the look of a quilt, depending on the block, and it should be noted that once a quilt layout is chosen, the user will have to start a new quilt and recreate the blocks if they want to try setting the quilt differently. It would be nice if there was a way to save blocks to be used on other quilts, but the fact block designs are only accessible within the quilt they were created for helps eliminate some clutter, especially considering block designs can build up quickly.
After choosing the layout, the amount of rows and columns can be altered by tapping the options button in the upper right hand corner. Layout grids can be as small as four rows by four columns or as large as nine rows by nine columns. Options also include keeping the block outline, rather than having grid lines fade away as fabric is added. There are options to add a first border, and an outside border, and fabric can be chosen for each.
To appropriately size borders, users can select different ratios; a ratio of ¼ means that the border width will be ¼ the size of the finished block size. It goes up in quarter increments to a ratio of 1, which means the border width will be the same size as the finished blocks (without seam allowances). This is useful since the app does not let the user specify the finished block size, so it’s up to the quilter to figure out the measurements for the border depending on what size they plan to make each block.
Sashing, fabric that runs between the blocks so that they are not resting up against one another, can also be added to the quilt. Users can choose two fabrics for sashing, one for the main sashing, and another for the corners, where the rows and columns meet; the width of the sashing is also be sized by ratio, starting at ¼ and going up to 1.
Blocks can be grouped within the sashing, so for example, four blocks can be grouped together with sashing surrounding the perimeter of the group. Grouping starts at 1×1 blocks, which means one block will sit alone, and goes up to 4×4, meaning a grid of four blocks by four blocks will sit together, bordered by sashing
The borders, sashing, grouping, and amount of blocks can be changed at any time during the quilt design. If the size of the quilt drops down after adding the blocks into the quilt, then blocks from the subtracted rows and columns will disappear and have to be added again if the quilt is sized back up. There is no easy way to clear all the blocks placed on a quilt, instead users will have to tap on a block with the same block design selected to clear it.
Then, the fabric enters; the look of one pattern can be instantly changed with a new combination of fabrics alone. Combining prints, colors, patterns, and solids can also make or break a design. It can be overwhelming just selecting fabrics, but QuiltWizard helps quilters visualize a final design, and avoid the seam ripper after a block has been painstakingly pieced together.
The app allows for photos of fabric to be imported, and then used within the block design. This is somewhat revolutionary, since an easy way to do this has never existed outside of computer programs. QuiltWizard simplifies the process by letting users snap photos of fabric in person, or by importing an image or screenshot saved on the iPhone or iPad.
Once the fabric is uploaded to the program, which is easy and simple to do, it can be selected for block design. Notes can be kept about each fabric, which is useful for quilters who want to keep a catalog of their fabric stash. Under the fabrics tab, within a quilt design, users can check off which fabrics to use on that quilt. This fabric tab is accessible at any time, not just within a quilt, so that users can edit and remove fabrics they do not want to store anymore.
The app only gives two options for cropping photos in order to keep patterns in the correct ratio when imported into the block design. The square crop sizes come in a small and large size, and each one is better for certain fabrics. The large square is best for capturing prints, as it will not tile or repeat the image in the block. The smaller square is best for solid prints, since it will tile the image and maintain a higher quality image.
Once images are captured, they are stored in a library for access on any quilt. It might take a few tries before you get used to capturing images online and importing them, but once you have successfully imported a few fabrics, the process becomes much more straightforward.
It’s important to have a layout and a plan before dipping into precious fabric stashes; the carpenter’s saying of “measure twice, cut once” is all too true for quilters. Designing blocks so that users can visualize how fabrics will look in the finished product helps avoid any quilter’s regret after cutting into fabrics.
Countless quilt blocks have withstood the test of time, all with different variations and names that have cropped up over the years. It is nearly impossible to have each one memorized, or on hand at any given moment when creativity strikes. QuiltWizard incorporates a good portion of the most commonly used blocks into its library, as well as options to build blocks with different grid options. The app features a 2×2, 4×4, 6×6, 8×8, and 10×10 grid, with quarter square triangles, which allows for nearly any block to be created from scratch.
If QuiltWizard does not have the desired block pre-installed, it is easy enough to create it using these templates. A few times during testing, a custom block couldn’t be designed because the grid didn’t offer exactly what was needed. With a little creativity, combining more than one custom block helped create the desired design.
Many blocks also feature multiple options. For instance, the Best Of All block features a version 1 and 2. Version 1 has areas in corresponding shades; tapping one light grey area will fill all of the light grey areas with the selected fabric, keeping the design uniform throughout. The second version of the Best Of All Block also features shaded areas, but they do not automatically populate corresponding areas when one is chosen, instead they serve as more of a guide for anyone who wants continuity with some flexibility in the design.
Once a block is selected, it goes into a list of blocks for the quilt being worked on, under the block design tab. Every block selected for a quilt is saved in this list, and it is specific to the saved quilt it was created for. There are options for each block; tapping the arrow in the lower right hand corner opens up options that allow for blocks to be duplicated, rotated, and flipped horizontally.
Regular updates generally include additional block designs. The app developers seem very open to comments and suggestions, and are constantly improving the app.
Some issues arose when placing blocks on the grid, and it would be useful to have a way to flip blocks around when placing them on the grid, without having to copy a block and save it rotated. On the iPhone, it is a bit difficult to see in detail what blocks are active for the selected quilt, and adding in a rotated version of each design causes a bit of clutter. This is less of a problem on the iPad, where the screen offers more room and it is easier to see the block designs underneath the quilt.
Users have commented that they would like to design quilts with a 1 row or 1 column grid for table runners and mini quilts. However, TG found that using the versatile customizable blocks made it easy to design the 4×4 grid into a mini quilt design. Also, part of the grid can be ignored when designing the layout and with a bit of configuring and imagination, users can create almost any design with what is supplied. It can be a bit more time consuming, and it does not offer the same convenience as the predesigned blocks, but its certainly easier than drawing it out by hand.
Since there is a wide interpretation of blocks, for example the Sunflower block, if you aren’t familiar with how to do it on your own, finding the pattern will require some extra leg work. But thanks to a growing internet community of sewers, a simple Google search will turn up, at the very least, a similar pattern to work from. A bit more determination will undoubtedly reveal the exact block design somewhere, most likely for free. The aim of the app is to give an idea of what the fabrics will look like when put together in the desired way, rather than to deliver specific patterns to the user. Although, that would be a great update.
The app crashed a few times during testing, but the iPad 2 in use was low on storage. Increasing available storage and making sure to delete quilt projects in the queue that were abandoned helped improve any performance issues. Occasionally the app would freeze up when trying to select fabric, but this also improved when the available storage was increased. These problems were intermittent and were also remedied by restarting the app, and none of the performance issues showed up when using the app on an iPhone 5, so it may be fine on a newer iPad model.
Occasional bugs aside, this is a great app, especially considering there is not much else out there that can offer the same features and ease of use. It’s a simple app that even non-techie quilters will love to toy around with. The app continues to improve and has regular updates, adding new blocks to the library and updating minor bugs and issues.
QuiltWizard is an amazing resource for quilters, not only does it have a library full of block templates, ready to fill with fabric, it even lets the user take photos of fabric, or grab screen shots from websites, and import the photos into the app.
One thing to be aware of before purchasing this app is that it is in no way used to measure or calculate necessary fabric yardage, templates, or cuts. Users will need knowledge of quilting, as this does not offer any tips or tutorials on how to design a quilt.
There are plenty of apps available in the App Store that can calculate necessary yardage, many of which have similar blocks pre-installed. While it would be nice to see more options in terms of calculating the necessary yardage to create a quit or block, the development behind that would most likely turn into a separate app.
The QuiltWizard app can be purchased for iOS devices for $4.99 in the Apple App Store at the time of this writing.