First ... I quilt a lot in solids ... I love many of the beautiful prints that are out there, but my budget has been limited and I enjoy the simplicity of using solids to create from. Second, this design tool only works for rectangular shapes ... it won't work for circles or triangles. Finally, I use Excel on a Mac (granted ... not a great user experience, but it's what I have and haven't been able to convince MicroSoft to make a better version for Mac).
The following reflects a view of some placemats I want to make ... then I will follow up with a few views of how I have used it for quilt decisions.
1) Start with a blank spreadsheet:
2) Then I resize the height and width of the cells to make squares -- on the Mac, I use 0.21 for both the height and the width. I then use Borders to make an outline of the quilt/placemat. You can choose the dimension of each square. For this placemat, I am using 1 square = 1". That works well for high-level design -- typically, for more complex quilts I will go to 1 square = 1/2".
3) I then fill in the square with the background color I intend to use ... remember, my quilts are usually solid, so there is often a base color that I am using. In this case, it's gray.
4) Then, I add color where I want to add design.
5) In this case, I am making multiple placemats, so I copy and paste and then put in a different design with color on some.
This gives me an opportunity to evolve my design. Try different dimensions, colors, shapes, etc. I have had a vision in my head multiple times and when I put it on an excel spreadsheet ... it didn't go well ;-).
You can change the view from 100% down to 25%. I design at 100%, but then, in the case of quilts, to see the whole thing ... take it to 25%.
Here are a couple of examples of quilts designed this way ...
The back of a queen size quilt ... went with the design on the right.
A quilt design for my brother's birthday ... I didn't like either of them.
A quilt for my niece for her high school graduation. Went with the one on the left.
Hope everyone had a great weekend ...
All the best,