Thank you!

I just finished teaching my second Quilt Whisperer Online class at Machine Quilter’s Resource a few days ago.    This was a fun class and I enjoy teaching in an online format.

A huge “THANK YOU” to everyone who posted about Rex’s passing on the blog and on my facebook page.  Both Joe and I found comfort in your words, so thank you.  This is an issue that many can relate to as most of us have had pets we love dearly.  A hug back to everyone who mentioned losing their pets, too.  Thank you!


Happy Groundhog Day yesterday!  I always celebrate groundhog day because that is when my DD was born.  When she was about 8 or 9, I even threw a groundhog birthday party.  It was a very creative event as those were the days of 14% home interest loans.  So a happy birthday shout out of Amy- and I hoped you enjoyed your cake and presents.

Hugs, Carla

January Class Sneak Peek

I am teaching another Quilt Whisperer quilting design online class beginning January 11th through January 29th, 2010.  The class is being hosted by Machine Quilters Resource.

This class is all about creativity and quilting design.  Do you struggle to know what to quilt on any quilt?  Does the stand and stare method for choosing quilting design not work very well for you?  Then this class is just what you need.  It is open to all machine quilters- from quilting on a domestic home machine to midarm and longarm machines.  My class was written for all student levels- from beginner to advance.

Each week, for 3 weeks, I will post a lesson, an outline, and also have some videos to accompany each lesson.  I include lots of visuals into my class, including these sneak peek views:

I also have some fun Creative Exercises each week, here is a picture of how I completed one of the exercises:

Of course, I also sprinkle some of my cartoons throughout the Lessons, too:

Here are some rave reviews from students in my first online class:

“Wonderful class for newbies and seasoned quilters. I’ve been longarm quilting 4 years and was getting in a rut of quilting the same thing over and over. This class got the creative juices flowing and I can think about little else beside going home to quilt all these new designs!!
This was a wonderful class and I put it at the top of my list as the best longarm class I have had.  I’ve taken classes at the APQS showroom, MQS, Innovations and online. This one was hands down the best.”  – Debbi


“Carla, I just wanted to say thanks again for all that I have learned through this class. I have learned so much more than just quilting design—so many tips and ways to PPP or visualize what is in my head and how to approach the business end of it. And the tablet—woohoo! Most importantly, I have gained confidence. Thanks.”   -Mel


“Carla’s class was great! And her interaction with the students was wonderful. Did you sit in front of your computer the entire 3 weeks, Carla? You are an excellent instructor and I am looking forward to having more classes with you.”   – Helia


If you are interested in taking my online class from the comfort of your home, then click on the link at the top.  It will take you to the page where you may securely sign up.

regards, Carla

Guild Quilt and an Announcement

It was fun to see the President’s quilt given to the outgoing president at my local guild the other night.  In case you didn’t see quilt posted before, the detail of the quilting is here.

I brought my camera and took a picture while it was being held up for everyone to see:


It was good to see it go to the recipient!  Made the work worthwhile!


Quilt Whisperer Wednesday #3

Another Wednesday is here, so time for another QW quilting plan.  This first quilt comes from Dory, a quilter who lives in Quincy, CA.  Dory has a quilt made exactly like this Hoffman  quilt called “Tradewinds:”


I first saw this quilt and thought of the Linda’s quilt I recently completed.  I recommend breaking the block designs into 2 blocks- the smaller pinwheel and the larger darker brown spaces.  I have done this in my first design sketch, which, by the way, would not be my final design pick:


But what if the recipient dislikes flowers?  So here are two more quilting plans:


The quilting above would be a terrific custom choice, plus for you professional machine quilters out there, this one would quilt up fast.  Here is the next one:


Personally, I do not like the feathered design on the darker block in the half quilt design above.  I would go with the middle plan if this were my quilt.  If you scroll up and down looking at the 3 plans, the middle one feels most balanced to me.

Thread Choice: I would choose 2 colors of thread; one for the light areas and one for the darker block areas.  It would blend nicely and look fabulous in both areas with low contrast.  I feel that picking low contrast thread is important here.  You want the quilting to enhance the quilt and the piecing and not overpower it.

Let me explain this further…  if the quilter were to pick only one color of thread, say a dark brown, the thread (and quilting) would look lovely in the dark parts of the quilt.  However, in the light areas would look awful and detract from the quilt.  Trust me on this!

Beginning sit down quilters: Here is an easy beginning quilting design appropriate for this quilt.  New quilters could use their walking foot and just follow the lines:


For sit down quilters who free motion quilt, choose the design that you believe you can do with you current skill level.


Quilt Whisperer Extra: I have mentioned I am quilting a quilt for a local guild.  Here is my quilting plan for this quilt:


For this current quilt I am working on, the thread choice for each area is what will make this quilt work.  I have intentionally chosen less contrast thread for the inner black area around the star, so from a distance it will read as “black.”  I have intentionally done this to give the viewer a place to rest their eye before moving onto the outer piping ring area- which is quilted with a high contrast Rainbow  by Superior Threads. To show you this principle, I have left some areas black in the drawing above.

2 sided quilt: I have made this a 2 sided quilt, which is a quilt with an interesting back, by also choosing exact thread color for most of the colors in the star.  Combine this with the thread and quilting choices in the black area and the black area on the backing looks pretty cool! When I am done with this quilt you will see what I did- and know my thinking behind it.

I hope you have enjoyed this week QWW!  If you want to see my first two QWW, here are the links:

Quilt Whisperer #1

Quilt Whisperer #2

For all of you who have kindly sent me quilt pictures… keep watching!    Regards, Carla Barrett

Quilt Whisperer Wednesday #2

Time to see more quilt designs and how I would approach them both.  First up is a quilt pieced by Barb for her new granddaughter, Kelsey:


If Barb wanted a custom job, and perhaps this was going to hang on the wall as a decorative quilt, rather than used as a utility quilt, here would be my quilting:


Again, the above quilting would reflect what I might do if Barb told me this quilt was going to be an heirloom wall hanging, then I would quilt some fancy quilting.

Be sure to notice the border quilting, sometimes it is fun to play off the fabric and use the fabric as your quilting lines.  The other design elements play off of the border fabric, too.

Thread: While the quilting looks busy in the drawing, by choosing thread that will not have any contrast, it will enhance the piecing and add lovely texture to the piece.  For that reason, I would take the time to use threads that match where I am quilting, for instance, the green border would use that shade of green, each flower would be quilted using different colors of thread, and the backgound fabric color would dictate the thread color used in that area.

Here’s a different  plan: Another way I would design this quilt is using a technique borrowed from Suzanne Earley called meandering magic.  This is how it would look used in the background as a filler:


I drew up a few other quilting ideas for this quilt, but I liked the two above the best.


Remember this quilt from last week for Maggie?  Here it is again to refresh your memory:


I wanted more information before I could suggest some designs. so now I’m ready to suggest:

From a quilting standpoint, a custom quilting job would not show, so I would not suggest it for this quilt.  It is tempting to quilt a large zebra on this quilt, however it would not show, too.  Just for fun, I decided to show you a large zebra and I added some black sections of the quilt so you could see parts of the design:


Obviously, you would not want to quilt a large zebra on this quilt because it would not show.   So what would I suggest?

#1- Panto  or Edge-to-Edge (E2E) that looks like zebra stripes.   Here is a rough drawing to show you:


Another idea if you wanted to practice an all over texture is a different Suzanne meandering Magic using ferns to suggest zebra stripes:


or soften the piecing by quilting rounded swirls on the piecing:


Finally, the quilting I would choose if I were to quilt this quilt would be #1 above, the large faux zebra-ish stripes E2E.

As for thread choice, you could choose a value in between the black and the white, but also be bold and audition red, lime green, or other bright thread or rainbow.   Take the thread off the spool and drape it around both the light and dark areas of the quilt.  How does it look?  This is how I chose my thread colors- using the audition method.

Sit down quilters (Domestic machine users):  The E2E zebra stripes would be the method I would suggest for you.    If done large enough, you could use a walking foot.  If dones smaller, free motion quilters could also create the pattern.

Keep watching!  Each Wednesday I will post an unquilted quilt top and suggest quilting designs.   Regards, Carla

Quilt Whisperer Wednesday #1

Today is part 1 of my new weekly post on the topic of Quilting design, which is one of the final steps in the quilting process.  The “quilt whisperer” title came about as a joke title for my “How Do I Quilt This Quilt” kind of class.  Perhaps margaritas were involved, I can’t remember.  LOL  (Apologies to Caesar though)

First quilt is courtesy of Sandy from the Quilting Nanny blog.  Here is the before quilting picture:


When I see a quilt like this- with lots of black empty spaces, I really get excited because I know good quilting will elevate and make this quilt shine.

From a quilting standpoint, any quilting in the colored fabric areas will not really show, so most of my effort will be in the black areas that do.

This is also a feminine quilt, so feathers, flowers or anything frilly will look just fine.  Here is how I would quilt it:


I have chosen freehand flowers in the negative black space for two reasons- lots of interesting visual punch and I also can easily quilt this flower in my sleep.  The ferny feather in the triangular spaces would also be freehand, however the straight lines would be quilted with a small ruler.

The freehand fill in the outer border is also one of those designs that is easy to do for me, so I would quilt it to match the “feel” of the quilt.  Same goes for the floral block in the interior of the quilt.

Threads: I would audition threads for the floral sections, picking something that would blend nicely and not fight with the fabric. The thread for the black area would be a dark gray.  My thought is that using lighter thread for this quilt in the black would diminish the stark contrast between the black and the floral parts.  Sometimes, subtle is better.

Those of you wondering why I would not pick black thread?  LOL   Because if I used black, I would have a hard time seeing what I was quilting, much like quilting in the dark.  Using a dark gray allows me to see what I’m doing.

Domestic Machine Quilters (sit down quilters): What would I suggest for a  quilter who is using their home machine??  Here is a simpler design that you could easily manage with your walking foot:\qwwdomestic

Other than the flower circle center, and the curve at the end of the flower, the rest of the quilt are straight lines or slightly curving lines.  For thread choice, the same reasoning applies as above.

There are thousands of ways to successfully quilt this quilt, however, this would be how I would quilt it if it were on my machine table today.   Thank you Sandy for sharing your quilt!


I’ve decided to do a second quilt today, this one is from Maggie.  This one is a very traditional design (called a Churn Dash) using modern fabrics in a black and white fabric palette:


From a quilting standpoint, the complexity and busy-ness of the fabric would rule out any custom quilting.  Certainly, the customer could pay for- and get a custom quilting job on this quilt, however,  I see an Edge-to-Edge (E2E) quilting design or a panto design for this quilt.

Before I chose the E2E quilting, I would need to know more information.  For instance, who is this quilt being made for?  What will be the use of the quilt?  It would be a shame to quilt trucks and sailboats on the quilt if the recipient were a little girl who loved flowers.

So Maggie, go ahead and tell me who the quilt is for, do they have any particular likes or dislikes, and next week I’ll suggest some E2E  and panto quilting choices for you.  In other words, to be continued next week- or once I have more info.  LOL!

I hope you have enjoyed this first of many QWW posts.  I hope this will be helpful to people who quilt their own or send their tops out to a professional machine quilter.  I also hope this is helpful to newer machine quilters who quilt for others.

Let me know what you think?  Regards, Carla