I stayed with my Mother this weekend and as always she had a whole bunch of tech related questions for me to solve. One of which was whether she could design quilting patterns with any free software for her new toy, an ‘Intelliquilter’ (IQ) device.
For those that don’t know, it’s essentially a quilting machine that has been automated in a similar manner to a CNC or milling machine.
The IQ device which instructs the machine on the pattern to follow accepts a couple of file types, including .dxf which is a vector graphics file type created by CAD programs.
The free alternative I found for her was Inkscape, it will allow users to create designs on a computer that can be transfered onto the IQ device and reproduced by the quilting machine.
Step 1: Get Inkscape
You can download a free and Open Source copy of Inkscape from sourceforge here.
If you are a Windows user, click on the ‘Windows Installer’ Mac and Linux users follow the relevant links.
Step 2: Install Inkscape
Once downloaded double click on the Inkscape installer to install the program on your computer.
Step 3: Get dxf plugin
Inkscape struggles to properly format dxf files for milling machines out of the box so we’ll have to apply a little patch to it so that it works with curved lines properly. The patch can be found here. The instructions for installing the patch are included on the website, but I’ll include some screenshots here incase you get stuck.
Step 4: Create your design
Now I’m not a quilt designer, so please forgive my efforts, but using the beizer curves tool, you can create some interesting swirls and curves, or even copy some cursive text into a single curve for use on the machine. See screenshots below.
Step 5: Save and Transfer to your IQ device
Here comes the important bit, when you want to save your work ready for transfer, click ‘File’ then, ‘Save As…’ decide on a good place to save it, then name it. Important bit! From the drop down box, you need to select ‘better DXF’ and then hit save. You can then transfer the new design to your IQ using the USB stick provided.