Digital Designing Process

Hello, I thought I would give you a sneak peek into how I come up with designs that I plan to turn into machine quilting designs on my Tablet PC.

I open Photoshop Elements and create a new document.  I just start sketching freehand style and erase any designs that seem not to work.  I do not worry about the lines if they are wobbly at this point, since I know I will redraw and edit lines later on in this digital format.

If I am designing a small wholecloth design, often I will just draw a section of the quilt, then copy, paste and flip to make a square shape.  I love to work digitally.

carlamotif1Here is my quick sketch design, with color added just for fun:


Now it is time to redraw and edit the design.  I know that the center is rather boring, so will adjust that.  I will also edit some other lines, too.   Sometimes, I will redraw a design multiple times, until it flows for me.



cbelegascrolltropHere is what my first edit looks like.  Again, I added color just for fun:

At this point, I can edit further, or pull out individual elements that could make nice simpler designs all on their own.  These designs can later become part of a larger set of designs.


Breaking down the larger design into smaller designs also allows me to play with the idea of creating matching borders, sashings, corners, etc.  Here is an example of a smaller design from the larger quilt design: scroll border panto

Anyhow, this gives you a general idea for how I work.  I plan to redraw these designs and fine tune the stitch path for commercial application.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment.  Happy Quilting!  Carla

Buying a Discontinued New Tablet PC- For Artists

As mentioned in my last post, it was time to buy a new tablet, so I decided to follow my own advice and pick up a brand new, yet discontinued, tablet PC for a fraction of the price.  The model I selected was offered on a reputable website, but would save me quite a bit of money in the end.  I needed a new Tablet PC to run all my design software, like Photoshop Elements, Illustrator, and Art & Stitch.

lenovo-tp-x230-n2c2bhv-laptop-tablet3The model I purchased was a Lenovo Thinkpad x230, which I purchased from B&H Photo brand new for only between $600-659.  It is currently offered now for $634 US here.

I want to let blog readers know my first impressions and how my purchase has worked out so far.

The package shipped promptly from B&H, and arrived just fine in a brand new box.  This was indeed a brand new machine and not a refurbished one.  I opened the box and then proceeded to set up my machine and install all my software.  This notebook does not have a CD/DVD player, but I just used my portable one that connects to the computer with a USB plug to install all my software.

Once I had Photoshop Elements 13 installed, it was time to try it out.  Sure enough, it worked perfectly!   It has similar specs to my last Tablet PC, the Fujitsu T902, but I paid less than 1/3rd the cost.

The pros:  Lenovo x230 is a fine tablet and comes highly rated by other artists.  The price was right.  Tablet works as advertised.

The cons:  The keyboard set up takes some getting used to, but I added a mouse for ease of web surfing and clicking.  The Wacom digitizer and pen are a bit different than previous Tablet PCs, it seems to have some pressure functionality.  It will take some time to get used to the new set up.  This machine was released a few years ago, and is now discontinued.

All in all, I am very happy with my new tablet, and love that I spent less than $660 US. I think this is an excellent value for what you get. I can now start drawing and designing once again!

Let me know if you have any questions.  Hugs, Carla



New Tablet PC Purchase!

t901_twist_antenna_stylusThis post is for all the students and blog readers who write me about wanting a Tablet PC.  As mentioned in my post (seen below) my current Tablet PC, a very pricey Fujitsu T902 purchased about 3 years ago for about $2000 US, had the power cord disconnect.  It was not very robust a machine, as the cracks on the case reveal.  I decided it was time to get a new Tablet PC, so I started my research.

TCHICK copyo date, over the last 10 years, I have owned 3 Tablet PC Convertibles, which means they act as either a  PC laptop or notebook, and also have tablet functionality to allow me to draw on the Wacom digitizer monitor screen for art purposes.  My first one was the best, a Toshiba Portege, however, Toshiba stopped making Tablet PC Convertibles awhile back.  My second tablet PC was an HP Touchsmart tm2, but it never lived up to my Toshiba Portege.  It finally bit the dust during my AU trip and has been long discontinued.  I then purchased the Fujitsu T902, however, it is now out of action due to Ethan tripping over my power cord and disconnecting it.  I plan to get this repaired so the Fujitsu becomes my backup Tablet PC.

The last few years have seen rapid changes in the Tablet industry, and is very confusing to most people, even tech savvy readers.  I knew I wanted a Tablet PC, with enough system memory so it would run my favorite design/drawing programs like Photoshop Elements, Adobe Illustrator, and Art&Stitch digitizing software.  The digitizer needs to be by Wacom, mainly due to the better performance and precision.  This ruled out buying Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, which instead has a digitizer called N-Trig.  I also wanted an Intel Processor, and my Operating System (OS) could be anything between 7-8.1, since Windows 10 isn’t out yet.

I looked at all the current offerings, and trust me, there wasn’t all that many offerings which met my art and design needs.  I could have spent anywhere between $1-3K, but then decided to try something that I recommend to students in my Tablet Design classes.  That is to buy a slightly older, discontinued, highly rated,Tablet Convertible PC for a fraction of the original price.

So I went for it!!  The Tablet PC Convertible I bought has all the specs that my Fujitsu T902 had, but instead is a fraction of the price at $659 US.  I purchased a new, discontinued Lenovo Thinkpad x230.   Since I bought it from a reputable retailer, if I do not like it, I can easily return it.

Watch for my upcoming review.  It is supposed to ship to me in a few days.  Free shipping, even.  If this works out, I will have an affordable option to recommend for students.  🙂  Hugs from Carla

Happy New Year!

Home now after 3 trips in 3 months!  October, I was in Australia.  Went sailing in November in the British Virgin Islands.  December was spent spending quality holiday time with my Dad and Doris in Missouri.  I am a bit traveled out, I do say!

Example of Digital Quilt drawn in Photoshop Elements

Example of Digital Quilt drawn in Photoshop Elements

In the meantime, the power cord on my Fujitsu tablet PC was detached by accident by a cute little boy named Ethan.  That means for the first time in over 10 years, I am without a tablet.  Do I hear a gasp?  🙂  So now I am on the hunt for a replacement tablet PC, and I need to have my Fujitsu repaired, too.   Promise to write a post about my research for those interested in this subject once I look at all current offerings.

10waystabletOnce my Tablet PC is replaced, I plan to announce another Quilt Whisper design class.  I may even hold a brand new class, too.  Stay tuned as I will announce it here, on FaceBook, and through my mailing list.  If you are not one my mailing list, please write a comment indicating you wish to be added.  I promise to never share your email with anyone AND will not send out junk mail to you.

Here’s to a wonderful and creative 2015!!  Hugs, Carla

2 Classes Announced!

I am pleased to share date information on the next two StepOnPins eclasses– including my long awaited Tablet Class, held just after Beginning Photoshop Elements Class by the Pixeladies!

Introduction Photoshop Elements March 2012– Registration begins on February 16, 2012 for the March 5-25, 2012 Beginning Photoshop Elements Classby the amazing Pixeladies!  Here is a mini-description for this introductory class:

Through online lessons, videos, and webinars (real-time online meetings), you will learn the tools that allow you to perform magic with Photoshop. We will focus on selection tools, their function, and how to use them. We will introduce you to the wonderful world of layers. Working with layers is much easier than getting out the seam ripper!

This is a true beginning class using PSE, no experience with this program is required.  This class fulfills the prerequisite for my Tablet Design Class.

Tablet Design Class for Quilters–  Carla Barrett’s Tablet Design Class is scheduled for April 16-May 5, 2012.  This class teaches students how to use their tablet, combined with Photoshop Elements program, to design quilts, quilting lines, pantograph designs, wholecloth quilts and more!    Registration will begin on March 26, 2012.  *Please be aware that this class does have a prerequisite- Beginning Photoshop Elements Class or equivalent proficiency with using PSE.  Please note that is offering a March Beginning Photoshop Elements Class by the Pixeladies.  If you are new to PSE and/or need a refreshment class, please sign up for the March Class.

Tablet Types Used in this class:  Students will need any of the following type of tablets for this class, along with Photoshop Elements, version 8-10, loaded onto your computer:

  1. Wacom Brand Tablet- any Bamboo, Intuos or Cintiq models. Plug-in Peripheral Tablet.
  2. Wacom Competitor Tablet Plug-in peripheral.
  3. PC Tablet Slate- Window 7 and needs to run Photoshop Element.  Many brands are available.
  4. PC Tablet Convertible- Laptop or Notebook with Tablet feature.

Ipad and Android Tablets will not be used in this class as they are not able to run Photoshop Elements program.  For more information about tablets, please see this blog post HERE.

Here are a few class examples showing you what you will be learning.  The class will cover using your tablet to design on quilts like my designs shown below:

Quilt top by Joyce Abbott

Quilt top by Cindy Bartosewcz, shown above.  Please not that I have used a Sherry Rogers-Harrison digital design in both quilts for my design inspiration.

You will also learn how to create other designs, including a wholecloth quilt.  Here is a wholecloth quilt design I drew on my tablet:

More Creative Exercise projects are also completed in the class.  A full class description is coming soon, along with price, how to register and more information. Registration Starts Tomorrow!

I am pleased to report that the new website, is ready for registration starting tomorrow for 2 Pixeladies classes.  Please keep reading for more details and links:

Classes at

Introduction to Photoshop Elements for Fiber Artists and Sewing Enthusiasts

Instructor: The Pixeladies

Registration begins on September 19, 2011.  Class begins on October 10-30, 2011.  Students to have access to all course material until May 1, 2011.

Through online lessons, videos, and webinars (real-time online meetings), you will learn the tools that allow you to perform magic with Photoshop. We will focus on selection tools, their function, and how to use them. We will introduce you to the wonderful world of layers. Working with layers is much easier than getting out the seam ripper!  Click here for more information

(Note from Carla: This class fulfills the prerequisite for my long awaited  Tablet Design Class learning how to draw on quilts using PSE and a tablet.  This is the last time I am offering this Beginning PSE class before my Tablet Design Class.  I will be finally scheduling the tablet class for early December.)

Designing Fabric with Photoshop Elements

Instructor: The Pixeladies

Registration begins on September 19, 2011.  Class begins on October 31-November 20, 2011.

Designing Fabric with Photoshop Elements!  Want to learn how to turn a photo into a border print, design fabric for that special occasion outfit, or create a unique fabric panel for a memorable quilt? In this course, we will work with filter galleries, blend modes, layer styles, and adjustment layers to help you go from ordinary to extraordinary. Click here for more information

Course Requirements: Student must know how to use the basic tools of Photoshop Elements and layers or have taken the beginning PSE class above. Consider taking the introductory course if you need to refresh your knowledge of PSE.


For more info, please post a comment or visit the new class website at  The forum will remain up and active.  Thank you, Carla Barrett

Old Photoshop Homework

Many years ago, I took a Photoshop Digital Imaging Class at a local college.  I used my new 1 or 2 megapixel camera, which at the time was latest technology.   Anyway, the class assignment one week  was to create a magazine ad for a fictitious product called “Diesel.”

Below is the ad I designed for my class.  Working with the low res camera had its limits, so I decided to blur the truck images on purpose as an artistic decision and background for the Metal Diesel font.  I learned how to turn the font into metal by reading a new magazine on working with Photoshop.

By the way, my instructor gave me an A on the assignment.  I found this ad while I was moving older files onto my new HP tablet laptop.  I thought it was most fitting to share an older work with you, especially since the Intro Class to Photoshop has been happening on my Class Forum at  It is the last week of this class session.  Thanks to the Pixeladies for their hard work teaching this class!

Registration is Ongoing!

I am happy to say that registration for my Fall Quilt Whisperer Online class is filling fast!  I am excited to see so many sit down quilters sign up, too, who finish their quilts using a  domestic sewing machine (DSM).  I designed my class to help all machine quilters- from those who use their home sewing machine to longarm users who quilt for clients.  I have even had a hand quilting student in a previous class, too.

To register for my Fall Online Quilting Class, called Quilt Whisperer 101, simply click on this sentence. (Note: Registration is now closed!  Thanks you, Carla)

If you need more information about the 3 week class, you may click the tab above that reads, “next class.”  That will give you information about this class on quilt design.  I developed it after discovering that many quilters struggle with the idea of what to quilt on a quilt.

The class will be held on my new site:

Click the picture to visit the site.

Thanks for your support with my new endeavor.  Hugs, Carla

Favorite Apps

I admit it… I am an App junkie.  I love my Apps and I am always looking for new ones.  As of today, here are my favorite Apps:

Kindle App– I love that you do not even need a kindle device to use this.  I now download books to both my KIndle and my ipad.  I prefer to read on my ipad since it is back lit and doesn’t make any annoying “click” noises.

Netflix, ABC Player, NPR, Hulu Plus, etc- I love any App where you can watch movies, tv and listen to your NPR broadcast.

Dragon Dictation- Don’t like to type?  This is the App for you!

Pandora– worthwhile if you love music!

Google– so many uses!  I love the “voice search” feature!

Favorite Games: No Surprise, this list is pretty long!

Spider HD The Secret of Bryce Manor– This is my #1 all time favorite game app.  In this game, you are a spider and need to solve the crime!  Eat bugs to keep your energy up, and look for hidey holes, too.  I do not like spiders, but I love this game!

Doodlejump– very addicting.  It is hard to stop once you start.

BeJeweled 2- Another mindless, but addicting game!

Bookworm– Another favorite way to keep my brain from shrinking.  Hint: Mute the Worm from offering annoying hints.

Arcade Bowl– I love to play this with Jack.  I love the progressive play!

WordWarp– Another favorite word game.

Labyrinth 2 HD– realistic game.  You almost feel that the game is real.

Scamble, Scamble 2– word find game.

Random Apps:

Talking Carl, Talking Tom– Get this to entertain your kids and grandkids.  It kept Jack entertained for more than 5 minutes.

Find iphone– Ok, i’m a blonde.  I admit it.  Enough said.

Spinart– I find this to be a stress reducer.

Now onto drawing apps.  Here is my over view for some of them:

Drawing Apps- My opinion, no matter what.

Coloring Pad– easy, simple, fun.

TypeDrawing– another fun app to waste time!

Draw– fun drawing program!  Easy to draw on photos, too.

Doodlebuddy–  Draw your quilting ideas, then save to your photo album.

Layers– Terrific drawing App.  One of my favorites!

Sketchbook Pro– Go online to learn.  This app could benefit from tutorials in order to get you started.

Brushes– Another great app to draw on photos.  Easy to use.

Doodle2lite– simplistic, not my favorite.

Colors! Lite– again, not my favorite one.

That is all for now.  Do you have a favorite App??  Please share!  Carla

iphone 4

If there is a new technology, you can bet I will get my hands on one.  The iphone 4 was released today and I must say I am impressed with the new technology and features.

Most noticable is the improved resolution of the screen and the higher resolution camera.  Tap the little icon while using the camera and the screen switches to a front view.  Tap it again and view reflects the back of the the viewfinder.

It also has video conferencing feature and more.  In case you are wondering… no, I am not upgrading my current 3G iphone.  I just have my sources for getting my hands on new products on release dates to try out and blog about.

As always, the only downside to any iphone or ipad device is the weakness of the AT&T network.   I personally have had issues with AT&T while traveling last month.  I had problems with accessing mail on both my ipad and iphone.  Even their website mail page would not work.

Thus said, I still love my ipad and iphone.   For my trip, I have already loaded several new movies to watch on the plane, a dozen new books on my Kindle app to read, and some new music to listen to while I am lazing in the sun.

So…   has anyone purchased one yet or are planning to?