Hello! In my day job, I am a machine quilter / teacher / cartoonist / beading designer, so I thought I would share a bit about quilting from a machine quilter perspective. Before I begin, let me say that 99.999% of quilting clients are wonderful people and a delight to work with. Really.

I thought I would share a few of my stories and cartoons:

Pet Free Studios are a good thing. A few years ago I was building a house, so I moved my quilting machine into my dining room temporarily during construction. One of my cats got into the house and after eyeballing the customer quilt, went instead for a huge box of quilting thread – treating it as cat litter, thus ruining a few hundred dollars worth of my beautiful new thread. Not all was lost, as it did inspire this cartoon:

Feathered Fibers Cartoon

Not all quilts with "Issues" can be quilted out. I still remember my very first wonky quilt that I received from a customer. Wavy borders, bias that stretched when you glanced at it, and of course, the dreaded "C" cup in the middle of several intersecting seams. I somehow survived that quilt, learned how to tame most quilts with "issues," and even got a cartoon out of the deal:

Feathered Fibers Cartoon

Note: when I drew this cartoon, I was sure I would get complaints from quilters who piece. Instead, they loved it and always believe it was drawn for someone else – a friend, guild member or acquaintance who couldn’t piece a straight line to save their life… I’m OK with that- so long as they don’t send me hate mail.

One day, I received a judge’s comment in the mail that contained a rather silly remark about one of my show quilts. I decided some payback was in order, time to poke fun at silly judge comments by drawing yet another cartoon:

Feathered Fibers Cartoon

After I posted it, I figured, this time, I would certainly ruffle feathers and receive hate mail from quilt show judges. Instead, I received many requests by professional judges to use the cartoon in their guild presentations. They actually thought it was funny! Whew… what a relief!

My funniest client story was NOT the accountant who intentionally wrote the check for half the amount of the quilting cost, then kept me talking so I wouldn’t notice until she had driven off with tires burning rubber. No, that honor goes to the quilter who came to my pet free, smoke free studio and asked me to bathe and put on brand new clean clothes and not touch my pets in the morning so that her panel quilt would not be mussed with pet cooties. This is a true story!

After I mumbled something politely about my schedule being full, I quickly sent her on her way! Wasting no time, I ran to the mirror to see if I looked like a slob; sniffed my armpits to see if I smelled; and looked around to see if my studio was a disaster or a mess. But no, all were in order, thank goodness! After a request like that, I had to wonder, you know. J

Moral of the Story: It is never a good idea to ask your machine quilter to bathe if you want her to quilt your quilt.

Here is a cartoon that I drew recently for Carol Olson, (creator of the Fine Line Ruler) which features her favorite quilting quote. This fits in nicely with the last story.

Feathered Fibers Cartoon

Fortunately for me, all the people I quilt for are wonderful, kind people, so they haven’t asked me to bathe at all. Here are a just a small sampling of quilts I have quilted:

Piecing by Barbara Kiehn
Piecing by Nancy Gwyn
Pieced and appliqué by Jayne Moore
Pieced by Barbara Kiehn

And here is a how-to design for all the machine quilters out there:

Thank you to Michele, for the opportunity to be a guest blogger. This is a fabulous site, and I wish I had thought of the concept first!! J

Carla Barrett
Blog: http://featheredfibers.wordpress.com/

Carla Barrett, Feathered Fibers Cartoon & Blog

13 thoughts on “Carla Barrett, Feathered Fibers Cartoon & Blog

  • February 10, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I always love your work, Carla. I’d love to take a class from you sometime, if only you were in Michigan!

  • February 10, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Those cartoons are hilarious. Glad that everyone can see the humor. I have to wonder– the piecer who wanted you to bathe first– who DOES she get to quilt for her? People with wild requirements always make me wonder who they actually convince to quilt their projects. Of course the quilts you showed are over the top– just gorgeous.

  • February 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Great as always Carla!
    .-= LizzyJo’s latest post: The New Year has arrived. =-.

  • February 10, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks for a really informative and amusing post. Those cartoons are wonderful! They really made me smile.
    The quilts are something else, so very beautiful. Your quilting is really impressive. Like the others, I wish I lived closer so that I could take some lessons. (I’m writing from the UK!)
    Thanks for the flying geese quilting design. I shall try that out.

  • February 11, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Made me laugh out loud!! The cartoons are hilarious. Love your sense of humor and the over the top quilting.

  • March 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Interesting blog you got here but I can’t seem to find the RSS button.

  • March 18, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Waldo: it’s under the subscribe heading on the right side. Or click the subscribe link at the very top of the page too.

  • September 19, 2010 at 12:18 am

    I have just purchased a long arm and only dream of doing your type of work. So unbelievable.

  • October 5, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    My longarm quilting group would like to have you teach a class in person in AZ. Please email me so we can discuss if you do this or not.

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