What Makes Electric Quilt Sew Special?

Take a look at how some of today’s designers are using Electric Quilt to create their award-winning designs.

Ebony Love
I couldn’t do what I do without EQ. I love working with traditional blocks and unconventional settings. EQ has an extensive library of blocks for just about anything I can visualize. It is easy to redraw blocks when I want to change the seam lines or construction of a block. EQ is an integral part of my design process and I often recommend it to others.

EQ Design

Finished Quilt

Service Puppy
by Kathy Larson

Donna Thomas
EQ is absolutely my starting point for any quilt I design. It is completely essential to my work. My recent book was designed in the middle of the night. I awoke at 2 am with the idea and absolutely HAD to get it put together. I pulled up EQ7 and went to work. Within two hours the design was done. It has been refined in several ways since then and more quilts added based on the theme. If I hadn’t had the ability to use EQ, that quilt might have been lost to more sleep.

EQ Design — Twist-and-Turn

Twist-and-Turn — Finished Quilt

Nancy Hobin
This design appears in Twist-and-Turn Bargello Quilts
by Eileen Wright. I made an EQ7 Vertical Strip Quilt layout of the design . . . I wanted to see how my color choices would look in the final quilt before forming any strip sets.

Kerry Goulder
For two years I have been designing paper piecing patterns, trying to stretch my designs and maybe even the program. So far there is nothing too big, too small, too simple or too complex the program can’t handle. I use MAC. Without EQ7, there’s no way I would attempt to design the patterns I do. EQ7 makes everything so much easier and quicker.

EQ Design

Finished Quilt

Proud Peacock
by Evelyn Townsend

Christa Watson
I design exclusively in EQ and it’s a natural part of my process. I first think of an idea I want to explore, then with the help of EQ7 come up with dozens of different iterations until I find the one that is just right. Along the way, I’ve created seeds for dozens of other ideas that may become future quilts. Once I have a design, I import fabric swatches so I know exactly what the quilt will look like. This process works well for me because I’m not one of those who can intuitively design a quilt as I go. All my planning and thinking is done ahead of time so that when it’s time to actually make the quilt, I can sit back and enjoy the relaxing process of sewing each stitch.

Nancy Mahoney

Nancy Mahoney, hardest working woman in the quilting industry.Nancy Mahoney (nancymahoney.com) has a reputation for being the hardest working woman in the quilting industry.   Nancy has been making quilts for over 25 years and her best guess is that she has designed and created over 600 quilts.  SO FAR.  Her quilts have been featured in over 175 national and international quilt magazines — with more in the works.

A snapshot of Nancy Mahoney’s quilt world achievements:

  • Created over 100 quilt patterns for various fabric manufacturers.  
  • Designed 15 fabric collections for Clothworks and P&B Textiles, including eight 30’s reproduction collections.
  • She is one of the most popular teachers in the quilting world.  In 2016, Nancy will teach at more than 30 quilt events.
  • Authored 14 books, her most recent, Learn to Paper Piece – A Visual Guide to Piecing with Precision.

Nancy Mahoney, Learn to Paper Piece - A Visual Guide to Piecing with PrecisionWhen asked how her incredible quilting career started, Nancy thoughtfully said, “I have always loved sewing.  As a kid of 7 or 8, the sewing machine was in my bedroom and I loved playing with fabric and sewing pieces together. I made garments for many years and spent 10 years doing tailoring and alterations for a department store in Boise, Idaho.

In 1976, I saw a magazine showing vintage quilts, with patterns.  I took a class and learned how to hand piece and hand quilt.  At that time, cotton fabrics were scarce and we didn’t have rotary cutting equipment.  But I was hooked.”

In 1991, Nancy got a job at Clothworks, a Seattle fabric manufacturer — and that was the moment quilting changed from a hobby to a career.
Nancy started attending Quilt Market as a Clothworks employee.   Part of her job was to make quilts to display in the booth (using the new fabric collections).   Her first cover girl quilt was published in 1996 on the cover of Quilting Today. Since then, her quilts have been featured in over 200 national and international quilt magazines, and she’s had 15 quilts on the cover of various magazines.

Nancy loves all styles of quilts — from appliqué to paper pieced — from easy to challenging.  She likes to try different techniques, and her quilts often combine different design elements.  For example, she might add a little appliqué to the border of a pieced quilt.  Because so many of her quilts are designed to feature specific fabrics, she creates the design FIRST — then determines the best method or technique to achieve the finished quilt.  

A turning point in Nancy’s quilt journey was when she became an Electric Quilt artist.  The Electric Quilt is a quilt design program.  She has been testing and using their product since it was DOS based. She describes it “like a simplified version of Photoshop combined with Illustrator.  You can work in layers, experiment with fabric selection and colors.  EQ has tools for coloring your blocks, or you can scan in a fabric, import it into EQ, drop it into the quilt, and see how the quilt will look before you make that first cut.”

When Nancy and her husband moved from Seattle to Florida in 2001, she didn’t want another 9-5 job.  She decided the time was right to start her own business.  She had earned a reputation in the industry for being a creative quilt designer who understood deadlines.  She had also developed important contacts and relationships with fabric companies and quilting magazines, so she started to submit fabric designs, quilt patterns and magazine articles.   

Nancy Mahoney enjoys meeting quilters around the world at Quilt shows.

Nancy enjoys meeting quilters around the world.

Her first book, Rich Traditions, was released in 2002, and that’s when she added teaching and lecturing to her workload.  Her classes, like her books, are well-organized, with clear instructions and illustrations — always with fun anecdotes.  Nancy’s goal is always to make sure her readers/students have a good time, learn something new and create a quilt they will enjoy for many years.  Fourteen books and hundreds of classes down the road, Nancy is well known for developing simple techniques that create dramatic results.  Her 2016 teaching calendar is completely booked.  Nancy will do more than 30 events and be away from home for over 100 days.
Where does she get the inspiration for a new quilt?  That depends on what the quilt is for. If she’s been asked to design a quilt using a specific fabric collection, then the fabric is the inspiration for the design. On the other hand, when she doesn’t have to use a specific fabric collection, the inspiration comes from playing with different blocks and colors.  She uses EQ7 to design all her quilts so it’s easy to change a block/design until it evolves into something she likes.  She loves to play with colors and fabrics to add the finishing touches.
Nancy says, “I love collecting vintage quilts, and I have about 150 vintage quilts and quilt tops, plus lots and lots of blocks and partial quilt tops. My vintage quilts are often an inspiration for my own quilts. I enjoy recreating a block from a 1930s quilt using today’s fabrics and techniques.

We all have a bucket list of quilts we want to make.  My philosophy is, if I own a quilt I can cross it off my bucket list and don’t have to actually make it.  We’ll never know the story behind most quilts. However, I have a Basket quilt in my collection that is dated. All the baskets are different fabrics and each block is signed in permanent ink. All the blocks appear to be the same handwriting, so I think one person wrote the names on the blocks, which was very common at that time. The name on one block is Maggie B. Walker and I think she made the quilt, because it’s inscribed in the upper-right corner ‘Lizzie Walker from Sister Maggie, June 9, 1884’.”

When Nancy became interested in quilts from the 30s, she also started collecting patterns that quilters clipped from newspapers during that time.  They could send a dime to a clearing house for a full-size pattern. Those patterns and newspaper clippings became the inspiration for three of Nancy’s books. The fabrics in vintage quilts have been the starting point for all of her fabric collections.

A glimpse into Nancy Mahoney's sewing home.

A glimpse into Nancy’s sewing home.

So, how did Nancy Mahoney earn the reputation as the hardest working woman in the quilt industry?  Here’s her schedule:  When home she is at her desk by 8:30 AM, doing social media and answering emails. The rest of the day is spent working on new patterns, writing articles for magazines, or editing books for Martingale (she is a technical editor).  At 4:00 PM, she takes a break to fix/eat dinner. After dinner,  she sews on her Bernina until 8:30 PM.  It’s a long day, and she doesn’t have any employees.  Since she and her husband moved to Georgia, she has one entire floor in the house devoted to her business.  That includes one room for fabric, one room for quilts and class prep, and three adjoining rooms for her office/studio.  

Laughing, she says, “I got just what I wanted — NOT A 9-5 job!!  I pretty much work all day, every day, seven days a week.  I can do the technical editing if I’m on a plane or sitting in an airport or motel.”

Nancy Mahoney's constant companion, Prince, making sure every stitch is correct.

Nancy and Prince.

Nancy’s constant companion in her sewing studio is Prince.  He’s a 35-year old Umbrella Cockatoo (also called a Great White Cockatoo).  She and her husband bought Prince at Pike Place Market when he was three years old.  He could live to be 100!  Prince loves to help Nancy sew.   He likes to remove pins … usually before she sews the seam!  Nancy says Prince is the perfect pet.  He is like a cat because he likes a lot of affection…but, like a dog because he wants to follow her around the house.  

Nancy has seen many changes in quilting since she began. “Tools are so much better now than when I started.  Can you even imagine making a quilt without a rotary cutter?  The fabrics have changed, too, both in style and color. In the beginning, the colors were more muted, homespun was popular, there was a lot of brown.  Now the colors are brighter and cleaner.  Batiks are still very popular, and you see a lot of white in today’s quilts.  The techniques for making quilts have changed too. When I started, the standard was hand quilting. Then quilters started machine quilting and long-arm machines came into play. Electric Quilt was a game changer. It’s always exciting to attend Quilt Market and see what’s next on the horizon.”

Adele hears songs in her head, and she must sing them.  J.K. Rowling hears stories in her head, and she must tell them.  Nancy Mahoney’s brain is full of quilt squares and techniques, and there seems to be no limit to how many quilt patterns and books she will create.

If you are in need of a little quilting inspiration — visit Nancy’s website (www.nancymahoney.com) where she has made hundreds of her quilt patterns available as free downloads.  Her energy and enthusiasm for this hobby-turned-job is legendary.  She is living that Confucius bit of wisdom  “do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.”