I have been steadily working through all the amazing functionality of Electric Quilt 8 (EQ8) over the past few months and have learned so much. Yesterday, I hit a wall that really had me fuming for a time. It seems that EQ8 is missing one key function for Mac users that the Windows users enjoy. Since the program is touted as a “full version” on both operating systems, I thought it would be good to clarify what is actually missing from the Mac version so future Electric Quilt customers could be better informed than I was.
The missing component is the ability for the designer to take the created pattern and export the blocks, etc., to a “metafile.” See the circled button above called “Metafile?” This button is completely missing in the Mac version of this program. You would only know that if you had the manual (where this screenshot came from) and read the note below the title on this one page.
A Metafile is a Windows only function and there is no equivalent in the Mac version of this program. Let me explain how it works (in my very laywomen’s terms) and then I will explain how to get around this problem. If you are a Windows user, the remainder of this post does not really apply to you, but you may find it interesting, nonetheless.
A Metafile is a way of saving an image in sections, or layers that can then be separated by using another program like Word (in Windows). I don’t know how it works, technically, but basically, the block you are working with can be exported into a metafile and then you can open the metafile with Word (in Windows). Once you have the file open, you can then “ungroup” the sections of the image and move them around. So, with this application, you could take apart a block on the screen so you could see the individual patches, or pieces that make up that block.
This is a great tool for those who want to design and produce their own patterns for sale. In order to write a pattern, you need to be able to separate the sections of the block to show the order of piecing, etc.
Unfortunately, Metafiles are only a Windows thing. I am a Mac user. I was totally unaware that this function was missing from my version of EQ8 and, looking back, cannot see where it was ever mentioned before I purchased the $250 program. I do want to design and sell my own patterns, so this was a real issue, once discovered. I am not moving to the Windows environment, so there had to be a way to deal with this in the Apple ecosystem.
The way I worked around this issue was amazingly simple and free. First, I went to the App Store and downloaded PDFPrinter Lite. After opening this app, I was able to go into EQ8 and select “PDF Printer” as my printer. I printed the block and then opened it in a PDF editor. I use Adobe Acrobat. When you open the PDF file, you will need to use an app that will allow you to Edit the PDF. That is important. This worked like a charm.
See below how my test block is in pieces. I was able to “explode” out the block into individual patches or pieces for pattern reference. Fantastic!
There are a few settings that you have to play with on the EQ8 side. To make the PDF print (or save) correctly.
While in EQ8, navigate to “File—>Print—>Block” and you will see this box appear.
First, on the Block tab, make sure you are printing what you want in the Printing Style section. I chose Showing Fabrics for this example. Next, click on the “Options” tab and uncheck the bottom two options (Print block outline and Print patch outline). This will eliminate a lot of additional lines around each of the units when you separate them in Acrobat. Then click Print. I hope this all makes sense. It is really a lot easier than it sounds. Leave me a comment if you have a question.