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Carrie Nelson: Expect the Unexpected

Carrie Nelson: Expect the Unexpected

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

Carrie Nelson is a fan of variety—in her life and in her education. And her new book, Miss Rosie’s Farmhouse Favorites, makes clear she feels that way about quilting, too.

[Let’s start by saying that Carrie is not 100 percent comfortable with me taking over the blog and singing her praises…probably not even 15 percent comfortable. But when someone is so talented and so interesting, Cutting Table readers deserve to know more about the woman behind the scenes. So I told her to take a deep breath and let me have at it. Here goes.]

Wayne and Gordy

Since January 2015, Carrie’s been a part of Moda’s team, handling social media and brainstorming along with the staff members who think up all the great stuff Moda has to offer. Case in point? Those Cake Mixes, the great new 42-page pads of stitching designs for turning layer cakes into stunning quilts. Carrie (AKA Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co.) said she was looking at quilts and trying to imagine how to create them from charm squares. When that didn’t work, she switched to layer cakes and voilà, she had it, and now so do we.


That Carrie was even thinking about this particular “how-to” demonstrates one side of her brain, which is very analytical. Her office is colorful, but her desk is tidy. She’s known for her clear pattern instructions. “I want to make sure I include anything I’d tell anyone if I were teaching a class,” she says. And she has a law degree—yup, Carrie was an attorney in another part of her life.

Scarlet Begonia

But she’s also done lots of other things and lived in other places. She’s studied fashion and textile design in San Francisco and Los Angeles, political science in Arizona, and law in Texas. She’s good at math, but also good with color, texture, pattern, and design. Those inclinations led her to create her own patterns, which she first took to Quilt Market in 2002. The following year she designed and stitched a quilt for Moda, which was so popular that it was turned into a kit that included her pattern. “That provided huge visibility,” she says. “After Market, everything changed.” Her patterns were picked up by a distributor and Hancock Fabrics had a feature on Miss Rosie’s patterns in their catalog. She’d been freelancing for law firms up to that point, doing research and writing memos and briefs, but realized Miss Rosie’s Quilt Company was becoming a full time business. And while she had some other jobs along the way, her focus was on teaching and creating quilt patterns.

Opening Day

So, I think we could say that with a life filled with experiences as diverse and stimulating as Carrie’s, it’s not surprising that she leans towards variety in her quilts. “I can look at and love minimalist things, but they’re not what I want to make,” she says. “I like when there’s a lot going on, when it’s colorful and a wonderful mix.” Her new book—Miss Rosie’s Farmhouse Favorites: 12 Captivating Scrappy Quilts, published by Martingalereflects that fact right in the title. It contains some of her best-known and well-loved (but no longer in print) patterns and provides options for using your stash or combining new fabrics as Carrie does so successfully at Moda. “I always think that fabric collections provided instant scrappiness, and you can add others in or take some out,” she says.

Cracked Pots

If you aren’t familiar with Miss Rosie’s quilt patterns, or if you are but want to re-visit some favorites, check out her new book. (After writing this post and spending time with the book, there are at least four quilts I’m dying to make and Carrie’s sense of fun and personality shine through the pages, making just reading it a pleasure, too.)

Three Barns

Carrie shared a quote with me while we chatted about this post and it expresses both the appeal of scrappiness, and about having lived an unconventional life. “I like messy people; those who don’t fit in a box or stay between the lines.” I’m not sure I’d call Carrie messy, but I’d certainly agree that she doesn’t fit in any box I know of…and those of us who love to quilt are ever so grateful.

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