Shrinking Solution

Sorting Hat Get more Harry Potter patterns on Fandom in Stitches!

When Cheryl over at Cheryl’s Teapots2Quilting asked for permission to use some of my free patterns for an upcoming project she’s working on, I enthusiastically agreed!

What’s her project?

Well, you’ll just have to wait and see…don’t worry, I’ll share when she does!

crystal ball

What I can tell you is that she asked to use six of my Harry Potter patterns. She was planning to reduce each pattern to 4″, but I volunteered to do it myself.

student hat witch hat

All this happened at the same time that the hard drive on my laptop crashed. I have access to many of my files on my backup drive, but not EQ7, the design software I’ve been using for the last couple of years and I’m waiting for my laptop to be repaired and before I will have access to all my design tools. While I wait, I decided to try out Quilt Assistant, free block design software

I recommend this software all the time based on the experience of other designers I know over at Fandom In Stitches. It’s about time I try it out myself!


Now this software is not EQ7, and I knew that going in. I wasn’t expecting the bells and whistles of fancy design software, layout options, etc. QA is intended for individual block design, and if that’s what you need, and all you need, it’s perfect for that. I found it super easy to navigate and use and had redrafted several blocks using my original designs in a relatively short amount of time.

In addition to drafting patterns, you can also import a photo to follow, color and number images, as well as export and print different versions of your pattern.

Since most of the patterns I was redrafting were originally designed in Photoshop and not EQ7, I worked from my quilt blocks and “printed” my work to PDF.

 PoDWeek 29

I’m a picky girl when it comes to the way my patterns are presented.  I like clear, concise lettering that goes left to right and top to bottom. If you’ve used any of my patterns previously, you will find they are all labeled this way. If a design software exists that allows complete control over labeling, I have not found it yet!

The following four images were generated using Quilt Assistant print options:

QA Print Option: Design at true size, no seam allowance added. Numbers generated with QA.

QA Print Option: Paper Pieced Pattern, no seam allowance added.

QA Print Option: Paper Pieced Pattern, Seam Allowance Added.

QA Print Option: Paper Pieced Pattern, Seam Allowance and Colors Added.

I printed to PDF as a paper pieced pattern with seam allowance but no color (third option above). I opened up each PDF file in Photoshop and rearranged the pieces so they would be as close to the actual piecing order as possible. In EQ7, arranging pattern piece placement on the page is an option before printing, one I use often.

I also deleted all the numbers generated by QA and renumbered each pattern myself so they would reflect my personal design style. I started designing back in 2004 using Photoshop for every step of the process. I still color and label all my patterns with it, even my  patterns drafted in EQ7.

You will also find sewing order on all my patterns. When I first started paper piecing, I came across a very complicated pattern with oodles of asymmetrical pieces and no instructions whatsoever. It took me ages to figure out how it went together. Because of that, I started adding sewing order with my very first design!

Making it mine: How the Cauldron pattern looked when I finished editing.

Download the 4″ Cauldron pattern

In a nutshell, Quilt Assistant is free, it’s easy to use and you can share your patterns from it by printing them to PDF with software like Primo PDF or Cute PDF. If you want to make changes, use Photoshop or open source software like Gimp.  Save the file as a PDF for easier printing.

The best part about this for me? Well, a couple of things. First, I got to revisit some of my older Harry Potter patterns that I hadn’t played around with in ages. Second, I get to share these patterns with Cheryl and look forward to her upcoming project (and I hope you will, too!). Last of all, as soon as I’m up and running on my own computer again, I can export these files to EQ format and edit them just like any of my other EQ7 projects!

Direct links to the magically shrunken versions of the above blocks:

4″ Witch Hat

4″ Student Hat

4″ Crystal Ball

4″ Cauldron

4″ Sorting Hat

4″ Broomstick

I hope my little review of Quilt Assistant is useful to you. If you’re still on the fence about designing your own paper pieced patterns or about using design software and you’re looking to draft individual blocks, give it a try. It’s a nifty tool, it’s free, and if you decide to upgrade to EQ7, all your QA work is exportable!

Visit the Quilt Assistant Website

A footnote: I am reviewing QA because I want to and for no other reason, but if you happen to take up pattern drafting, consider becoming a Fandom In Stitches Designer! Fandom In Stitches is my all-fandom quilt pattern site featuring Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Doctor Who, Sesame Street and much, much more! All the patterns are free and all the designers are volunteers!

Tabby Face Block Lotto

To celebrate the Tabby Face Block Lotto, use coupon code TABBY in my Etsy shop to receive 10% off your total order during the month of September!


Time is running out!

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11 thoughts on “Shrinking Solution

      1. Amanda

        Jennifer I just found your pattern for the 10″ tardis quilt. I’m a newbi. I down loaded the pattern so I can make a quilt for my daughter for Christmas. I’m a little confused on the measurments. I’m not seeing length and width of pieces. I’m wanting to make a twin size for her bed. Am I just missing something. Desperate for help.

  1. Connie

    I use Quilt Assistant all the time as the first step in designing a pattern, but I always change the numbering INSIDE Quilt Assistant. When you choose “Name Shapes for Paper-Piecing” under the Edit menu, QA numbers the pieces. But if you go to the small pull-down where you can choose from Design, Edit, Color, Select, and Naming, you can choose Naming then right-click on any patch to rename the group, shift pieces from one group to another, renumber the pieces within a group, etc. Once I’ve done this I never use the naming option under the Edit menu again or else the program will re-number the pieces again from scratch, but it keeps my changes, and I can change the numbering any time if I only use the Naming choice below Design. I would only choose to re-name using the Edit menu if I had done some major changes to the pattern, and then use that as a staring point again.

    My favorite thing about QA that I didn’t find in EQ or Quilt Pro was the feature that if you choose Snap to Angle and then Edit from the same box where Design is, a Red Circle shows where any lines that should be straight are not perfectly straight. I find it helps a lot when I’m fixing up a pattern and moving lines if I can check that they’re still straight.

    Nice review! It took me a while to get used to the program, I didn’t love it at first, but now it’s my first choice to draft a pattern. Then it goes to Paint Shop Pro, I don’t have Photoshop or that’s probably what I’d do too.

    Thanks for all you do for us!

    1. Jennifer Ofenstein Post author

      Thanks for that, Connie. I did find the numbering feature in QA, but I’m sure your comment will be super helpful for someone looking for more information. My pickiness comes because I like to have big lettered units and easy to read numbers. It’s kind of my thing I guess and I really enjoy numbering all my patterns myself!

      I’ll have to check out Snap To Angle. It sounds like a nifty little tool!

      My Photoshop is about a million years old…or 10+, but it still does the trick. It was a hand-me-down from a friend that upgraded ages ago and it’s been such a great tool for me. My hubby swears by Gimp, which is a free software very similar to Photoshop.

  2. Borse Di Gaya

    Hi Jennifer, I’m happy you finally tried Quilt assistant! I now have both that and EQ and still can’t understand why EQ, a software that really costs a LOT, is missing many features that QA does wonderfully. My biggest concern are the lines when you are drawing a pattern. If I want to add a line in QA he shows me the line as blue when it’s an extension of a pre-existing line, and as a normal black line when it forms an angle. EQ just doesn’t do this and if you want to extend a line you have to edit it and hope that he won’t erase it when you save (or change view). It drives me crazy! QA’s snap to angle/corner is really useful, Connie is perfectly right, and I also like the possibility to have alignment markers in my print outs. If only he gave you the possibility to crop-change the proportions of a drawing it would be absolutely perfect.
    The numbering of the print outs doesn’t bother me but the color indicators are terrible so I work on the pdf using inkscape and add the color, or on “Pages” and add symbols.
    In a nutshell, QA does a wonderful job for me: the programmer is great and he answered to all my emails checking a bug I pointed out to him immediately. EQ (for paper piecing) drives me completely crazy: every time I try to change a line or something he just erases other lines because they don’t snap correctly (but he doesn’t give me a tool to check the snapping, I just have to hope everything is right till I’m proved wrong when saving). Now I’m using it just to try out fabric combinations and it really is a waste.
    (that was a long comment! Sorry)

  3. Cheryl

    Thanks for resizing the blocks for me. It’s cool to be mentioned on one of your blogs. I’m getting ready to start stitching on those patterns. I think I have everything designed and fabrics gathered. Gee, I even had to go shopping for a background fabric. That was my reward for getting a good report from the doc.

  4. Charlotte Thompson

    Thank you so much! I have been looking for a way to make my designs look more professional. This QA2 is just what I needed. I am participating in the Wicked blog hop with you and I signed up to follow you. My day is Oct. 29th.

  5. Kayjay

    I never knew about QA, I guess because I’ve used EQ so long I stopped looking around, Lol… Your post intrigues me, especially how it sounds like it’s easy to assign alpha-numericals on our paper piece patterns. But please say more about, “…I can export these files to EQ format and edit them just like any of my other EQ7 projects!” Like open the Block up in EQ? As a pieced block? To use in my EQ project (quilt)? Do tell. What do you do, export as *.blk ? Just flailing here.
    Thank you for an inspiring blog 🙂

    1. Jennifer Ofenstein Post author

      The answer to all of your questions is yes! QA has an option to save the working pattern file as an EQ file. It will automatically add the extension, just make sure you know where the file is saved so you can find it later. When you’re in EQ, go to Libaries > Blocks. There is an “import” button at the bottom of the window. From here, go to file location where you saved the QA file. You’ll need to change the file type to “Previous EQ Versions” for the file to show up. From here, you add it to your working library and you can use it as a regular EQ file. I don’t use QA very often, but I do like it’s symmetry tools, which I will play with from time to time.


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