By now, you’ve probably seen many of Nancy Mahoney’s beautiful quilts in magazines. (If you haven’t, check out some photos we took here.) Her designs are just stunning. Did you know they were all created with Electric Quilt software? (At least the ones dating back to the mid-90s!) Below, Nancy tells us about her first quilt she ever made and how EQ came into play a few years later.
First, a little about Nancy:
Nancy has enjoyed making quilts for over 35 years, during which time an impressive range of her beautiful quilts have been featured in over 200 quilt magazines. She has also created over 100 quilt patterns for a variety of fabric manufacturers.
Nancy has authored 14 books since 2002; her most recent book is Learn to Paper Piece. She has designed 15 fabric collections, including eight 30s reproduction collections.
When she’s not designing and making quilts, Nancy enjoys traveling around the country, sharing her quilts, teaching her piecing and machine appliqué techniques, and visiting gardens.
EQ: Can you remember your first quilt? Tell us about it.
Nancy: I took some quilting classes and made a few small projects in the late 1970s, but I made my first “quilt” in 1987. After moving to Seattle, I signed up for a scrap quilt class from Marsha McCloskey. After the 2-day class, I put the unfinished blocks away and didn’t work on them again until I received a call from Marsha. She was working on a book with Nancy Martin and asked if they could include my quilt in the book. The quilt appeared in their book “A Dozen Variables.” Not only was Road to Oklahoma my first quilt, it was also my first published quilt.
EQ: When and why did you first start using EQ? How has it affected your quilting life?
Nancy: I started using EQ in the mid-90s. I was working for Clothworks and met Penny McMorris at Quilt Market. Penny offered to send me EQ3, which was the newest version of EQ. EQ has dramatically changed my quilting life. I went from designing quilts using graph paper and colored pencils to using Electric Quilt and never looked back. I use EQ to design all of my quilts and would be lost without it.
EQ: Many quilters say they’ve heard of Electric Quilt, but don’t know what it is. How would you explain it to them?
Nancy: I tell people who haven’t heard of Electric Quilt that it is a software program used to design quilts and blocks. I then go on to explain that you can audition fabrics, borders, different layouts, and quilting stencils. It’s hard to grasp everything you can do in EQ, until you see it in action.
EQ: How often do you use EQ? And how many EQ project files are on your computer right now?
Nancy: I use EQ almost every day for one reason or another. Occasionally, I want to look at a design or import a block from an earlier version, so I still have EQ6 and EQ7 on my computer. All together I have about 320 EQ project files, but some are duplicates since I opened and saved the files from an older version in EQ8. I also have EQ5 files on a thumb drive. Honestly, I wish I’d put all of my earlier versions on a disc or memory stick.
(Nancy’s Twilight Zone project was part of our 2014 EQ Christmas Countdown of free downloads. You can download Twilight Zone here.)
EQ: You’ve been able to experience several versions of EQ. What do you think about EQ8?
Nancy: I love EQ8. Having all the buttons visible makes the features so much easier to use. I especially like some of the new (to me) features on the image worktable. Scaling and straightening fabric scans is super easy in EQ8.
EQ: Tell us, what are you inspired by, and who are some of your favorite designers?
Nancy: I find inspiration everywhere, from garden gates to tile floors to vintage quilts. As a traditional quilter, I’m particularly fond of recreating vintage quilts using contemporary fabrics. My favorite designers hearken back to when I started quilting, especially Nancy Martin, Marsha McCloskey, and Roberta Horton. Each one played an important part in my quilting journey.
EQ: I know you’ve done a lot of teaching this year. What was your favorite event and why?
Nancy: It’s hard to pick a favorite event because so many stand out for different reasons. If I was to pick just one, it would be my visit to the Kitsap Quilters Guild, in Poulsbo, Washington. I hadn’t been back to the Seattle area since the fall of 2001. I really enjoyed riding the ferries again and seeing Mt. Rainier. Everyone at the guild was so nice and welcoming. As an added bonus, I was able to visit the Martingale offices in Bothell, and have lunch with friends.
EQ: What else are you working on now?
Nancy: At present I’m working on a new quilt for an upcoming magazine. I’m also getting ready for two quilting cruises in January and March 2020, as well as preparing new classes and lecture for AQS QuiltWeek Daytona Beach in February 2020. Most of my activities in the next few months are quilting related, which makes me happy.
A big thanks to Nancy for taking time out of her busy teaching schedule to do this Q&A! If you have a favorite Nancy Mahoney quilt, tell us about it below!