Ask Jo: Quilt Designing on the Computer

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I get this question asked to me all the time…”How do I make and design quilts on the computer?”  I got the question again after I posted the most recent pattern instructions for our quilt “Peanut Butter and Kelli“.   I showed graphics like this….

Although I have EQ.  I do not use EQ.  I use Word.  Yes…the same program you might use to write a letter.  Many of you don’t know the features that the program has…to start off with, you need to make sure that you have the drawing tool bar available for easy access.  Following the diagram below go to view-toolbars-drawing.  Then your toolbar will either show up at the top or bottom of your screen.  I keep mine at the bottom.  If you want to move yours, I think you can just click and drag it to where you want it.

Look at the bottom of the photo above.  See where it says draw and auto shapes?  That is the drawing tool bar.

Now that you have the tools, let’s learn to work with them.  Open a new blank page.  Let’s make a four patch block.  Go to Auto Shapes-Basic Shapes-then the rectangle at the top. Click it.


From there, move your mouse to the screen.  Drag and make a square.  DO NOT PUT IT IN THE CREATE DRAWING HERE BOX.

Now we need to color the box.  Who wants a quilt with no color???  Right click on the box.  This prompt will come up.  Go to Format Auto Shape.


Now you need to go to Fill Effects.

Then go to Pattern.  From here, pick your background and foreground color.  Then click on the pattern you like.  Hit okay.  Then hit okay again.  Your block will now be colored.


It is much easier to work with the blocks if they are an easy size.  Let’s make our block 1″ x 1″.  Right click on the block.  Go to size.  Put in 1 and 1 for the width and height-click ok.


Now we want out four patch to have two blocks the same.  So we click on the square…then right click the mouse.  The copy button will appear.  Click it.


Touch your mouse on the screen, right click again.  This time push paste and another square will appear.


Now you can click on the square and drag it where ever you want.  Make two more square by following the copying and pasting instructions two more times.  You should now have 4 identical squares.


Well for our 4 patch we want two squares of one color two of another color.  So click on one of the squares.  Hold the Shift key on your keyboard down and click on the second square.  Now whatever we do with one square will be done to both.  We want to change their color so we are going to right click the mouse while holding the shift key down.  We are going to go to format autoshape-fill effects-pattern and pick new colors.  Click through the okay buttons and you should now have two different colored squares.


Now, click and drag the blocks to make a 4 patch.

The next thing we need to do is to group the pieces together to make a block.  Click on each shape while holding down the SHIFT key.  Right click.  Go to the grouping button and hit group.


Now the blocks can be moved and treated like one item.  If you click and drag it, all the pieces come together…just like a completed quilt block.

Now to make a quilt and we need lots of blocks.  Right click the block and copy-paste more blocks as I explained how to do earlier.

Drag the blocks together and make a quilt top.

Eventually if you keep playing with the tools, you’ll learn to make all sorts of quilts using this program.  The best thing of all-most people already have this program on their computer and don’t need to go out and purchase EQ.

Here is one of the first quilts I ever designed via the computer.  We submitted it to Moda Bake Shop and it was our first quilting recognition outside the blog.  You can find the finished quilt and pattern here.

Since then, I have learned so much more…like how to remove the lines so I can see what the quilt will look like.


If there is an interest, I can keep working on offering more tips for using Word to design quilts.  If you have questions, ask away.  I’ll try to answer them the best I can.

You can find installment #2 for designing on the computer here.

You can find MANY other free patterns on our site by looking under the free patterns tab at the top of the page under our banner.  Stop by again…

50 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Quilt Designing on the Computer”

  1. Thanks Jo! I also use Power Point. This was really helpful for me. I would love to see more tutorials on this. I really like your latest Moda bakeshop quilt with Kellie. Thanks for sharing. K-

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been trying to create a pattern on graph paper and color pencils. Using word will be much better. I love your hints so keep them coming. I look forward to your blog posts.

  3. Yes, please give us more tips. I don’t have EQ so I would love to learn how to use Word to design a quilt I want to make. Thanks so very much for the sharing the info!!!!

  4. This is wonderful. I am NOT computer savvy by any means and knowing that I have something like this on my computer is terrific! Thanks so much!

  5. my goodness! This is fabulous!! I’d certainly love more tips!! I am going to try and do this soon, and may have questions, but thank you so much for sharing that technique. That was super sweet of you!!

  6. Thanks for the tips, I’d love to see more! I’m great at Word for word processing, but I haven’t explored much using the graphics.

  7. Thank you so much for doing this post. I would love for you to share more of your tips since I don’t want to spend the money on a quilting program. Your blog is on my must read every day list!

  8. It’s awesome to know about this. I am computer challenged. It would be a great help if you would tutor us, and make it so that we can print it out. Cause I need pictures to work with as I am following directions. I admire someone with so much talent in many areas helping those of us who can’t do, yet. Thanks for all you do.

  9. I am an avid quilter and also a computer instructor at a local technical college. I was tickled to see Word used for such a great cause. I never thought to use it in place of EQ (which I have) but will definitely try it out for my students.

  10. Thanks so much for this wonderful tutorial! I hope you will add this to one of the tabs on your header so I can easily find it again when I really need it. Please continue to add to this and make a series. It is the most easily understood tut on this subject I’ve seen. Thanks.

  11. Wow, I just went through your exercise and it worked beautifully. Amazing! I have a mac and can’t use EQ without difficulty. This is great!

  12. This is FANTASTIC!! I have a Mac, so even if I wanted to use EQ it is not compatible with Macs. I can’t wait to get some ideas out of my head and on to the computer. Any other tips you have for using Word would be welcomed by me!!

  13. Fabulous! I HATE EQ. I have one of the earlier editions, and although I thought I would use it a lot, I have not, it was a total waste of money bc it was so confusing. I hear that the later editions are easier to use. I really don’t want to spend the $$$.
    I love the idea that I could use the program I have to do what you did! Hope I can any way. this was a good tutorial!

  14. Absolutely amazing. I thought I knew a lot about Word, but I never knew it could draw like this. Goodbye graph paper and colored pencils.

  15. Hi Jo – Thanks “sew” much for this tutorial…..Can you put this under your tutorials and would we be able to print it out so it would be easier to follow along when I would like to try all this out?
    Luvin’ your blog everyday!

  16. Good Morning, Jo;
    As you can see, I am a little behind on reading my emails. I am amazed! I have used Word for years in my work and did not realize I could use it for my quilting. Please give us some more information in how you use it and I would like to see it somewhere on your blog so I can learn more.
    BTW, I love reading what your posts. And I love scrappy!
    Take care.

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  18. I have tried doing this on my own. I learned a lot from you and will be able to do more now that you have showed me how. thank you so very much.
    Phyllis D

  19. Just found this blog entry via a Google search. I ‘m working on my first quilt, and was looking for a way to play with layouts online. I don’t have Word, so I tried doing it in Pages. The menus are different, but it seems to have an equally useful result. (I may be forced to stick with solid colors rather than patterns, but other than that, it’s pretty much equivalent.) I love that there’s a way to do this on my computer without paying for software. Thanks so much for the tip.

  20. Theresa Scarborough

    Hey, I just found this website by accident Fave quilts.
    This is great. I have been wonderin’ about designing quilts on computer. I have designed on paper. And it takes awhile. And I have been tempted to buy EQ.
    I am going to give this a try. This is grrrrrreat.

    Keep posting updates for computer designing quilts.

  21. Great tutorial. I have Word Pad and dont have word subscription and I couldnt figure a way of doing it from there. Have any advice?

  22. Hi, I just found your site after searching for ways to design quilts. I have word 2011 for the mac and do not see the drawing toolbar. Do you have any knowledge of how we do this with a newer version of word?

    Thank you so much for sharing this information.


  23. Hello…I am trying to learn to write instructions for the block of the month blocks in my guild’s newsletter…each month…with graphics. I would be very interested in further tutorials. Thanks!

  24. I just found you when I did a google search about how to use Word to create a pattern. Thank you for this tutorial! I saved this info and tried something simple right away. I created a 4-patch table runner design and then added some hearts (applique) on top. That was fun! Can you tell me if I can add other applique shapes if Word doesn’t have them?

    1. Yes you can. Just find them on the on the internet and copy-paste them in. You can also scan them in via a scanner and paste them in or draw them yourself in word and put them in. There are many options.

  25. Can I take a school mascott and turn it into a quilt with the word program? or is there another way to take a 5×5 icon and turn it into a quilt block?

    1. I think it all matters what your talent level is. If it’s a mascot that can be turned into square and rectangles then likely you can.

  26. Thank you so much. I have been looking for software to design my first quilt, and I already had it all the time :-) Brilliant blog as well, am looking at the free patterns xxx

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  28. Nicely done tutorial, thank you!
    Word does do this kind of thing reasonably well. But as one who has worked with and taught M/S Office for 30 years, I can tell you that Powerpoint is even easier for making quilt patterns. Creating, sizing, moving and expecially grouping items are more efficient and reliable than Word. So if you’re lucky enough to have Powerpoint, give it a try.
    No disrespect to you Jo, again, your tutorial is excellent and it beats spending $$$ on EQ.

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  30. Jo,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful site! I quilted with my mom and grandmother when I was a child and have just been starting to try to quilt once again. Unfortunately, both mom and grandmother are gone so I don’t have them for their wonderful help and guidance (on quilting and life in general!). I happened on to your site and have spent a couple of hours reading through your hints, tips and patterns. WOW!! Your instructions are so orderly and well written that they give a novice like me hope that I can get started and complete a project!
    I especially appreciate the tutorial on using Word to draw a quilt pattern. I had no idea that Word had the capacity to perform such a task! As soon as I hit the send button on this note I will be at the computer drawing the design in my head! Thanks again and I look forward to continuing visiting your site!
    Susan W

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