AmethystStars EQ user, Penny Barnes is currently featured in the May/June issue of McCall’s Quilting Magazine for her Amethyst Stars quilt (left).  She designed it using EQ7 and machine quilted it herself. I just LOVE the Kona colors she chose from Robert Kaufman and her combination of Grandma’s Star and Summer Winds blocks! As it turns out, this isn’t her first time being feature in McCall’s. I just had to pick her brain about her design process… read through our Q&A below!

EQ: Congratulations on being featured in McCall’s! How does it feel to have thousands of people seeing your design?
Penny: Thank you so much!  It’s such a thrill to see a quilt that I’ve designed and quilted featured in McCall’s magazine!  It’s still a bit surreal.  It’s been fun to post on Facebook and blog about it and get great responses and encouragement from friends!  My Mom was an amazing seamstress and also made quilts and I know if she were still here, she would just be so thrilled for me…and proud.


EQ: Tell us about this quilt (above).
Penny: This particular quilt is one of the first quilts I designed after I upgraded my EQ5 to EQ7.  I liked the way combining the two blocks appeared to create movement in the quilt.  I must’ve saved it in about 47 different color ways and was amazed at how even changing the placement of one color would change the entire design.

EQ: I understand you have a couple other quilts that were/will be featured in McCall’s. Can you tell us a little about those?
Penny: This is the second quilt of my own featured in McCall’s Quilting and I have another one coming up in a future issue as well.  The first quilt I designed for them was in a Quick Quilts edition.  I basically used one block and alternated it vertically and horizontally, and played with color placement.  I’ve been using EQ7 to create quilts that will be seen next year in a couple of Martingale books too!  I’m also planning to publish some of my own patterns soon.

EQ: Well, we know you design beautiful quilts, what else can you tell us about yourself?
Penny: I began my own longarming business, PB & J Quilt Studio, about two years ago.  I have an Innova longarm that I love so much.  I still pinch myself when I walk into my studio space and feel so incredibly grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had since staring my own business.  I quilt regularly for other designers, so I’ve had my machine quilting work seen in multiple publications of  McCall’s Quilting & Fons and Porter magazines.
My husband and I have six kids and will welcome grandchild #10 this year.  We love to travel and especially love to spend time in Ireland and actually have led tours there.
I love that my official job title is Quilter.  I love the entire process from designing to piecing to quilting.  I even love binding them.  I also am a firm believer in using my talents to give back and worked on several quilt projects to benefit others.  You can read about some of those endeavors on my blog.

EQ: Explain your design process using EQ7. 
Penny: I spend a lot of time looking through the Block Library and when I see something of interest I’ll go ahead and add it to the Sketchbook.  I’ll end up with several in the Sketchbook to choose from and then play with the placement from there to see what I think.  My favorite part of course is filling in with color!

EQ: What about the software do you find most beneficial?
Penny: I love that I can upload jpeg files of fabrics into the Fabric Library and then create my quilt using the actual fabrics.  I also appreciate that it calculates the fabric yardage for me.  That keeps me from having random drawings and calculations on various pieces of paper or napkins that make no sense when I go back to them later.  EQ7 allows me to save what I was working on and go back to it and continue right where I left!

EQ: How did you design quilts before you had EQ7? How as the program changed your process? 
Penny: As I mentioned, I used to just sketch things out on whatever paper I could find close by.   I’ve been an EQ owner for quite a few years.  My kids purchased EQ5 for me as a Christmas gift several years ago.  I was working full time then in a medical office and didn’t really have the time to spend learning the program, so really just dabbled.  About three years ago I decided to upgrade to EQ7 and really loved all of the improvements that had been made.  I found it really easy to follow and could find help easily if I needed it.  I’m sure there is so much more to learn!  I also love to create my own quilt labels using EQ7.

EQ: What would you say to people who are on the fence about trying EQ7?
Penny: I would say…”Go For It!” It really is easy to use and create beautiful quilts.  The tutorials provided by EQ7 are so incredibly helpful too and I suggest that a new purchaser take the time to watch those and refer back if they feel stuck.  I feel like it’s been a great investment for me!

EQ: As a McCall’s featured designer, what advice would you give to other aspiring designers?
Penny: Never be afraid to try.  Create, create and create some more.  Most magazines print their submission requirements either in their magazines or on their websites, so read those and then create something and Try.

A big thanks to Penny Barnes for doing this interview with me. Keep up with Penny on her blog to see more of her quilting endeavors!

I hope you liked the first interview of our Q&A series. If there’s a particular designer you’d like to see on our blog, comment below!!