Visualize Your Next Quilt with PreQuilt

Laura Henneberry
Spring 2021

Have you ever had a vivid but somewhat fuzzy quilt idea in your head, and then the finished product didn’t quite turn out the way you’d hoped? Maybe you’ve spent countless hours piecing a top together, only to notice in the end that the red just pops too much? Well, this has happened to me, too. Many times. And so, in the winter of 2018, before cutting into my fabric, I found myself trying to use Adobe’s Illustrator program on my computer to visualize a plethora of colours for my Circus Tent Quilt. It was a painfully slow and frustrating process.

That’s where Gar, my husband and a web developer, steps into the picture. He looked over my shoulder one night and said, “I could code something that would do that for you in one click.” And PreQuilt was born.

PreQuilt began as a custom built, digital colouring page for my Circus Tent Quilt pattern so that customers could envision it with their own colour choices. Over the last two and a half years, it has evolved into a fully functioning, online design application that enables you to digitally colour designer quilts as well as design and visualize your own ideas. After creating that first digital colouring page we thought that perhaps this visualization tool might be helpful to other designers too. I started reaching out to friends, as well as designers I admired online, and we began building customized digital colouring pages for modern designers all over the world. Because we had to be able to recreate the quilt designs in PreQuilt, each collaboration pushed its capabilities. We were able to quickly and rapidly evolve its development with so many clear examples of what we needed it to do.

Over the years we’ve collaborated and built out custom digital colouring pages for independent designers worldwide, from Brazil, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. And we’ve been lucky to work with some very talented Canadian designers like Rebecca Burnett, Andrea Tsang Jackson of 3rd Story Workshop, Bobbie Gentili of Geeky Bobbin, Krista Hennebury of Poppyprint, and Cristina de Miranda of Ships & Violins. We have a Marketplace landing page on our website where visitors can view all of the digital colouring pages and have fun trying out their own combinations. Give it a try! If you find something that catches your eye, the corresponding patterns can be bought from a link found directly on each colouring page.

Imagine you are at your favourite quilt shop and find a stunning fabric, but aren’t sure how it will look in your quilt design. Simply take a photo and import it into PreQuilt to audition it. This is a great way to test before you buy.

Along your quilting journey, have you ever wondered if that pop of hot pink is just a little too much? Or if the scale of your blocks is too small for a queen-sized quilt? What about if prints from different designers or collections work well together? PreQuilt can help you visualize all of your quilty design questions. The online program comes equipped with multiple grid layouts, solid fabric swatches from all of the major manufacturers like Kona and Free Spirit, over 100 common quilt blocks, a printed fabric swatch importer, a fabric calculator, and the ability to design your own blocks. Start by selecting your grid layout and the general size of your quilt; then fill your quilt with your designed or selected quilt blocks. We believe it is not only one of the best ways to preview your quilt before cutting into your fabrics, but it also gets you excited to begin your project. Our motto: PreQuilt twice, cut once!

If you don’t have a clear starting point or design direction, not to worry. The program also encourages playful discovery and surprises through exploration. With features like colour and rotation randomization and the Magic Quad button, you can get started and see where your ideas take you. Some of our best design ideas have been the product of Gar playing with shapes and rotation.

Users of PreQuilt have been able to envision a spectrum of quilt ideas, from simple square block quilts to elaborate equilateral triangle designs. In addition to helping you create colouring pages, it can be used to design quilt-alongs and quilt patterns, and develop mockups for commissioned quilts. Once your ideas are clearly visualized and you’re eager to get started, use the downloadable images for your project as a quilt map and block inventory.

We understand that there is always a learning curve with new technology, which can be frustrating and sometimes becomes a barrier to trying something new. With this in mind, Gar has worked hard to develop an intuitive user experience, drawing inspiration from spreadsheets and grid paper. We also have a YouTube channel full of quick tutorials. We want to encourage people to give PreQuilt a try, so there’s a Forever Free account for users to design and save one quilt. Drop by and give it a shot. We can’t wait to see what you create!

Designed by Laura, the Circus Tent Quilt is a playground of colour. The blocks play with juxtaposing warm and cool coloured fabrics, creating alternating colour tiles reminiscent of old circus tents.

Quilt Canada July 19-22, 2023

Quilt Canada July 19-22, 2023

Quilt Canada July 19-22, 2023 in Edmonton, Alberta