In late September Al Navas bought EQ7. By the end of the week he was designing his own quilts. In less than a month he was writing his own EQ lesson!

We were intrigued and asked him a little about himself, included how he started quilting.

    Al said, “This was pure serendipity! My wife Sandy had been working with embroidery designs for several years, using a Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond machine. I helped her digitize designs using 5D™ Design Creator, a part of the 5D™ Embroidery Extra suite. She also started quilting a few years ago, first using the Desingner Diamond, and also a home sewing machine; she incorporated embroidered blocks in her quilt designs. Meanwhile I kept learning the digitizing process, until I developed a good work flow; I am now confident I can tackle substantial embroidery digitizing projects.

A while back Sandy and her sister pooled money and bought the Husqvarna Viking Mega Quilter, a long arm quilting machine, including the Quilt Sew Clever computer control. I took over the machine quilting for Sandy, while she remains busy stitching blocks into quilt tops. I learned to use it while trying to find the source of skipped stitches; and in the process I was hooked to the use of the long arm quilting machine! I am also making a little time to practice free motion quilting; feathers are coming along fine, and others too!

As I stitched patterns onto several quilts Sandy made, I started to draw a parallel between stitching together quilt blocks and quilting, to woodworking, which I have been doing for many years. Both require attention to detail, to ensure all parts of a block (and a nice jewelry box!) match properly.

In woodworking I used a 3D design program called SketchUp, and another called eCabinets System. Then I learned from Sandy about Electric Quilt, a computer-based block and quilt design program. What an epiphany!

Recently I started learning to use a sewing machine, in an attempt to learn the intricacies of making quilt blocks that later become a quilt top. I know I am many years late to this amazing art; but I hope I might learn enough to be able to stitch together an interesting and appealing quilt. I always enjoy learning something new!

As I read about Electric Quilt, both at The Electric Quilt website and other places on the Internet, I became fascinated by its capabilities. In use, I would be able to create blocks, and also create entire quilts using those blocks, using a computer – literally, a virtual quilt.

  In late September I purchased the download version of EQ7, to use on my Windows 7 laptop; on October 8 I submitted my entry to the Quilted in Honor quilt design challenge. To say I was hooked on EQ is very likely an understatement. In between I also purchased Blockbase, to accompany EQ. Love how the two work together! I enjoy working with EQ7, because now I can truly envision HOW a block goes together, including seam allowances, angles, etc. I can see how it will help me as I create blocks based on the designs.

It makes the entire learning experience very, very cool. Now all that remains is actual stitching on my green, 1972 vintage Sears Kenmore sewing machine – it even does zig-zag!

My explorations into the capabilities of EQ7 led me to the creation of PDF files from my design. And before long I came across the article on Exploding Blocks and Quilts for Patterns. I did not know this could be done with a PDF file! The only downside, if I wanted to be able to do it, was the expense of buying Adobe’s Illustrator program, used in the procedure.

I started exploring inexpensive and, preferably, free alternatives to Illustrator. This led me to use an open source alternative called Inkscape which can be downloaded for both the Windows and Mac OS platforms. As I played with Inkscape, I realized how close its command structure is to the Illustrator menu structure. I decided to write a procedure that would parallel the procedure to explode blocks and quilts already on the EQ website. And now the procedure I wrote lives on the EQ website.”

But that’s not all!

Al has a blog and a YouTube chann
el (which is tied to his Google+ page)

  His blog has Al’s latest design, The King’s Crowns. The blog includes information on how he’s made it along with videos.

He is a quick learner and a smart gentleman. We’re happy to have him (and you too!) as an EQ user :)