Nina Antze, botanist and quilter, developed the first quilt design software, PCQuilt, for her IBM computer in 1986. She recognized quickly after purchasing her computer what quilters today take for granted. Computers are powerful tools for designing quilts, storing quilt-related information, and accessing quilt history. She was not the only one. In 1991, Dean Neumann and Penny McMorris put Electric Quilt on the market. Quilt-Pro and QuiltSOFT were on the market by the end of the 1990s. These types of design software, although similar in many aspects to graphic design, drafting, or illustration programs, are uniquely designed to make the design and creation of quilts easier.
Design programs led the way for even more specialized forms of software. Quilters can now purchase software as stand-alone programs or as add-ons to their design software that include comprehensive block libraries, fabric libraries, or theme based software. Quilters can scan their own fabric stashes to add to their fabric libraries, they can use label design software for personalized quilt labels, and they can even track their purchases and inventories using organizational software developed specifically for them. Tools are available for the traditional quilter, the innovative quilter, and the studio quilt artist.
One of the newest forms of tech is the “quilt app,” designed for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Quilters can read many of their favorite magazines on their mobile devices, or they can download applications to help calculate yardages, design their next quilt, map out their quilting road trip, or buy fabric. Other application designers are using the concept of the quilt as a new social media scrapbooking tool. The possibilities really do seem endless.