Thursday, May 1, 2008

An Email Interview

With Loes van der Heijden of - the maker of my favorite drawing program "Pre-Design"

Greetings Loes!

Could you share how one goes about designing for the long arm quilting machines? What does one need to own and how expensive of an investment are we talking about? I also realize that there are those who are involved in both embroidery and with this type of quilting who may not realize that the Pre-Design software they already own, can integrate with both of their creative outlets. I am so impressed with all the capabilities one has with Pre-Design and this truly adds another dimension to the joy of ownership!

Thanks! Cookie

Loes’s Responds:

"About getting into longarm quilting: check out the websites of MQS and MQX. Those are two of the largest longarm quilt events:

MQX is at
MQS is at:
And the major "classic" quilt shows like Houston and Paducah now also having more longarm quilt booths. Plus longarm quilted quilts can be entered into quilt challenges too: lots of beautiful winners :)

From what we learned over the last year, longarm quilting is a profession, not a hobby ...yet:
the longarm machines start at 10,000 US$ up to 30,000 $, computer systems come on top of that. So most longarmers have a home-based business and quilt for others; which is a very successful combination! Most quilters love to create quilt tops: find fabrics, choose colors, cut and sew hundreds of patches together to make a work of art, but then..... The top has to be quilted together with batting and backing fabric and that is another story. Many, many quilters really would like to start creating another top, instead of quilting the parts together and many quilters have lots of UFO's: beautiful tops waiting to be finished.

And that is where the longarm quilters come in more and more: they can do that quilt job. Up till now with a choice of paper pantographs which they follow with a laser stylus on the longarm machine, but there's a growing community of quilt pattern designers offering digitizing quilt patterns.

Since Pre-Design entered the market early 2007, the longarm quilters are noticing that they are capable of creating their own patterns too, as Pre-Design is so easy to use. So instead of spending hours to find the right type of pattern for a special quilt, they can just make a photo of one of the fabrics, trace it in Pre-Design and create a matching quilt pattern.

Pre-Design can export to DXF format, for the computerized quilt systems, but it can also be used to draw quilt patterns and print at actual size: then take a tracing wheel to punch holes in the paper pattern to turn it into a stencil, and chalk spray to transfer the pattern onto the quilt, or use the print to trace with the laser stylus. That makes Pre-Design suitable for all types of quilt systems: longarm machines with or without a computer and domestic machines too :)

See there are 2 slideshows how to create quilt stencils: for domestic machines and for longarm machines and slideshow #3 shows how to create a panto roll with Pre-Design.
We feel that the quilt world is now at the point where the embroidery world was about 9 years ago: more people will start digitizing their own patterns now. And they still will purchase patterns too (same in the embroidery world: almost everybody has some sort of digitizing program and still the design companies are doing great).

In the past year we saw that more companies are launching quilt systems for the "midrange" quilters, at a lower price setting, like the HandiQuilter and frames for domestic machines. The MQS in Kansas even has a new type of classes, the "Just for Me" classes, as there are more quilters now, who get a longarm machine for their own quilts, not so much to quilt for others.

So the longarm and midarm quilt world is rocking and rolling.

I am a member of several longarm quilt Yahoogroups and it is so much fun to see familiar names: people who own an embroidery machine and digitizing software, who already have Pre-Design and who use it now to create their quilt patterns. And the funny thing is that more quilt pattern designers are now also starting to offer their designs in pes-format :) and you can combine patterns and save those as one new pattern:)"

The other way around could be done too (finally starting to reply to your question ):

people who are serious about digitizing quilt patterns should visit a longarm quilter, just to see how the machine works, what a pattern should look like (there's a big difference in effect between open and closed parts in a quilt pattern: open parts will sort of pop-up in a quilt). They will have to know the size of the blocks which can be quilted without rolling the quilt frame etc. Then in fact all they would need is Pre-Design and they could sell their DXF patterns, which will work in most longarm quilt systems, (provided they drew the patterns in the right sequence) but.... by selling the DXF you are sort of giving away your source format, as the DXF is fully editable in AutoSketch. So the best choice is to invest also in Pro-Q Designer, where you can save the pattern in the format for all major machines (and you can combine patterns are save those).

Oh, and if you think that digitizing a manhole cover is nice, I can digitize a cup of cappuccino
too :) See
and And now Theo is addicted to drawing too -"

------------------------------------------- Some thoughts on this information:

I gave this drawing information serious thought and realized that while I save my own pennies to embark on a new "interest" aka Longarm quilting, that I was not using my Pre-Design tools to all its advantage for my own needs. So last week I decided to try it for illustration purposes with one of my projects by taking a picture, tracing it, and then coloring in sections to make a set of directions easier. It's actually for the denim bag I did for AEC. I was amazed how I could create an illustration that simplified things for my students. So let's add illustration to the list of can-do's! Granted it's not cappuccino but I enjoyed my cup of coffee while drawing this.

More information on the software is also on the website.

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