Three tools to look for in a CAD program for quilters


I’m stoked!  I’ve had two fantastic reviews of The design master plan in three days.  Thank you to everyone who has bought any of the books.  I’ve been really happy with the reviews and feedback.

Today I want to show you a few great features to look for in a CAD or computer aided drawing program from a quilter’s point of view.  I use Adobe Illustrator to create patterns  but you don’t have to use Illustrator or a computer program like I do, nor do you have to use a computer at all.  It’s just faster, easier, and the unexpected happens all the time.


I’ve made a quick video here to show you these three great tools.


The tools mentioned here might have been upgraded from CS6 (which is the version I use) but you should be able to find online videos on how to do the same thing in other (cheaper) programs though they might have different names for the same tools.


  • A pattern brush tool.  This is the coolest tool out there!  This allows you to draw a pattern repeat (think of it as a pantograph) and pop it into the pattern brush folder in the program.  You can then draw a shape, such as a circle, and click on the pattern you put into the folder and instantaneously the circle has been transformed with the pattern.  Think of a pattern brush as a decorative stitch on your sewing machine.  If you choose which pattern you want the machine to sew, it will sew it in whatever shape you choose.


The pattern brush was placed in the toolbox and I drew different shapes. I clicked on the pattern it transformed my shapes.

The pattern brush was placed in the toolbox and I drew different shapes. I clicked on the pattern it transformed my shapes.


You can add corner patterns, inverted corner patterns, start and end blocks to the your pattern repeat if you have put them in the toolbox.


  • The scaling tool.  This is an option within the pattern brush that adds or subtracts the number of units in your pattern. There’s no geometry to work out!  I love this tool.  I create designs of all sizes from 3-96 units.  If I want a pattern with 30 units in it, I’ll create a pattern repeat with 3 units. If I want a 16 unit pattern, I’ll use a repeat with 4 units.  If I want a pattern with 7 units, I’ll either make a 7 unit or 1 unit pattern.  I find this is the easiest way to get the number of units I require in the final design.



Three patterns created with four units in each one. The scaling tool can be likened to turning the tube on a kaleidoscope but it just gives you more or less units.


Eight and 24 units.


An arc with 30 units.


  • The invert tool.  This is called flip in the pattern brush tool options.  Inverting each pattern you create doubles the amount of patterns produced and warps your pattern giving you another option to play with.  The inverted pattern can look better than the original or completely different to the original.  The pattern can also be reversed if it’s asymmetrical.
This is done with the tick of a box.

This is done with the tick of a box.


These tools are amazing.  I haven’t shown these to a quilter yet whose jaw hasn’t dropped.  You can see their minds ticking over and wondering where these tools have been all of their quilting life.  I admit I struggled to use Illustrator until I did a course at the local college but when I was shown the pattern brush tool, the first thought through my mind was that there needed a book to be written on this for quilters. I went home and played with the pattern brush for months a couple of years and fine tuned my design process until it became The design master plan book.

Happy quilting,


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