The Electric Quilt Company is 30!

The Electric Quilt Company’s Story – How It All Began

We’re celebrating 30 years! Since the pearl is the traditional symbol for 30 years, we’re sharing EQ Pearls of Wisdom from our friends! See all Pearls of Wisdom posts. We hope you enjoy the tips and tricks you learn along the way and discover some new quilters or catch up with your favorites! Also, we’d love to hear about YOUR journey with EQ so feel free to tell us your story in the comments on any post! A big THANK YOU to all our customers for your support over the years. We’re looking forward to many more!  :-D

This week’s featured friend: Barb Vlack!

Tell us a bit about yourself Barb!

My mother taught me to sew as a child and eventually I taught her to quilt. I’ve been making quilts since the mid-70s and I’ve been teaching quiltmaking techniques for about that long as well. I learned about EQ in the early 90s, and it’s been a very big part of my life ever since. I have an eclectic approach to quiltmaking, for I have learned and practiced many techniques. My style is perhaps “innovative traditional,” which means, to me, that I take any design and tweak it to make it unique and personal. EQ helps with that! I make my quilts for my family and as gifts. I have done several commissioned pieces for church paraments, banners, and vestments, all designed with EQ. Away from my sewing machine, I enjoy attending the opera in Chicago, musical theater, movies, and travel, especially to visit my scattered family. I live in northern Illinois and I have a son and grandson who live in St. Louis. My other son lives in Raleigh, NC, and his son is in nursing training in Valencia, Spain (a wonderful place to visit!).

Dave’s Pall designed by Barb in EQ

Dave’s Pall in EQ

When did you start using Electric Quilt and how has it changed your quilting life?

In 1992 I met Penny McMorris at the AQS Quilt Show, where she was demonstrating the brand new program, Electric Quilt. I was researching quilt design software to present a program to my guild in St. Charles, Illinois. She gave me a copy of the program to try and I was hooked. I joined the online InfoEQ chat list sponsored by Planet Patchwork and contributed to answering questions about how I designed with the program. I learned I was pushing the limits as I found ways that were not immediately obvious to create designs. Along came EQ2, and I grew into the program with its new features. Eventually, I brought my new laptop (this was in the mid-90s, when few quilters had laptops) to the show in Houston so I could show and tell what I was doing with EQ. EQ3 was introduced at about that time. Penny and her husband Dean were interested in what I was doing with the program. When they asked on InfoEQ for someone to demonstrate in their booth at the AQS show in 1997, I responded and the half-day I offered grew into three full days because I was having so much fun demonstrating. They asked me to write a book about designing with EQ3 that was beyond the beginner’s introduction, and “Too Much Fun!” was conceived and published in time for the Houston show in the fall.

Barb demonstrating EQ in Houston

For several years after that I traveled with EQ when they vended at various shows. My husband was invited to join us because he contributed to tech support and he and Dean became great friends. I started teaching EQ3 in 2000 at the Houston Quilt Festival and branched from there to teach nationally at various quilt conferences and guilds.  I have written supplemental books for EQ4 and EQ5 and contributed to books for EQ6, 7 and 8.  I am pleased that some of the manual techniques I described in my books have become automatic features in the program. I design or tweak ALL of my quilts in EQ. I once joked that I use EQ as a video game, but the more I challenge myself to use the program to reverse engineer quilts I’ve seen, I realize that I have used EQ not only as a tool but also a fun leisure time activity.

EQ has definitely contributed to my quilting life and vice versa! It’s been a 30-year ride that both my late husband and I enjoyed as we formed great friendships with Penny and Dean and the staff at EQ. I have become internationally known for my work with EQ, so it’s a delight to get notes from cyberfriends from around the world. I am forever grateful for how my association with EQ has influenced my life in many ways.

Quilt designed by Barb in EQ

What is your EQ “Pearl of Wisdom” for EQ users?

When printing out a pattern for foundation piecing or rotary cutting, first print out templates for the block. Use these templates, which are always accurately sized for the size of the block, to check sizing or measurements for rotary cutting. The size of strips to cut given by EQ8 may be rounded and therefore not perfectly accurate, depending on the size of the block. For greater accuracy, use the template to determine the width of strips to cut and then subcut.

For foundation piecing, print templates with a 3/8” seam allowance (.375”) in order to give yourself some wiggle room when placing the patches for piecing. This is especially important when piecing “odd” shapes and triangles. The slightly enlarged templates will make it easier to piece accurately the first time you try!

What are you up to now and what do you have coming up?

I am teaching series classes for EQ8 via Zoom for my local quilt guild. I do not yet have a website prepared to offer these classes nationally, but hopefully will be available soon. It’s under construction. Notification for an active website and blog will be given via EQ media.


My giveaway is a free project for EQ. The project is fairly simple, I think. It’s the Nose-Gay block from the EQ8 Block Library with one line edited, so there is no Y seam. It can therefore be foundation pieced. It is set in a Horizontal 4×4 layout. Because the block is asymmetrical, the Symmetry tool can work its magic. The blocks are colored scrappy. The border is created by coloring a stripe block from the library, exporting it as an image file to My EQ8 > Images. Then it was imported into the project as a fabric. The fabric was set into the border of the quilt and rotated 45 degrees to get the diagonal presentation.

Download the project here!

Pearly Twirl by Barb for EQ

Hope you enjoyed this “pearl” of wisdom. Feel free to share your EQ story or a “pearl” of your own in the comments! Stay tuned for our next post!

View all Pearls of Wisdom posts >>