A Quilt Partnership Between an Artist and an Engineer

A Quilt Partnership Between an Artist and an Engineer

Posted by Marci Baker and Sara Nephew on Sep 20th 2018

For many years, Sara Nephew and Marci Baker have each designed quilts and written and published their own books based on the 60° angle. 

Sara's book-writing experience began when That Patchwork Place (now Martingale) published her first book. Shortly after its publication, she developed the Clearview Triangle 60° ruler and began self-publishing her designs. Using the ruler for the majority of her designs, her interest in this basic element increased. 

Meanwhile, Marci published her first book independently under the Alicia's Attic, Inc. imprint. She also built her unique brands, the Not Your Grandmother's Quilts series and the Qtools, which are tools designed to make sewing and quilting even easier.

After more than twenty years, Sara decided it was time for a rest. She let it be known that her business was for sale. Since Marci was her best customer for sales of triangle rulers and already had a business that would easily blend the product lines, it was a perfect fit.

Both Sara and Marci are drawn to the 60° angle and the varied structures it can produce, but they come at these ideas from two opposite directions. Sara has a degree in art, while Marci has a degree in math.

Sara's artistic concepts come out in an underlying structure of value, with an emotion or feeling added with the color selections. Sara enjoys thinking up more designs, playing with the value and color, and then showing how easy and fun this odd angle can be to piece and quilt.

Then Marci the engineer puts a twist on everything, figuring out how to make the project faster and easier without compromising the final design. Marci has learned about value and color by trial and error. Her methodical ways of selecting color and value are taught in her classes, and you can see the results in her tumbling blocks quilts.\

Notice how they even come at the tumbling blocks design from opposite directions.

With more ideas already in the works when their collaboration began, Sara continued working on books and Marci began merging the businesses. The first book published by Marci and co-authored with Sara was Not Your Grandmother's Log Cabin. This book merged Marci's series name with Sara's unique designs, which are definitely not your grandmother's! The possibilities began growing to a whole new level. 

Through our new books, now published by C&T Publishing, we have grown to know our strengths, to acknowledge our weaknesses (it can sometimes be hard to see them, especially when we did it all on our own for so long), and to create together, achieving an even better end-product.

One thing that we have in common is our commitment to the quilter. We focus on being fair, generous, and providing the maximum value for the money spent, such as including thirty or more quilt designs in one book.

How do we work together with Sara in Snohomish, Washington, and Marci in Fort Collins, Colorado? Obviously, over the years, technology has streamlined our collaboration. Email is our main line of communication. This helps because it keeps the ideas and notes in writing for reference. Phone calls happen every one to three weeks, depending on the deadlines coming up. We do meet up once, maybe twice a year, depending on different opportunities, such as International Quilt Market or Marci's travels. With Sara designing at home and Marci on the road teaching, we say Sara is in the conception part of the business and Marci is in the labor and delivery!

Working together, we have become friends and have gotten to know each other’s families and have fun getting together with them too. So we can talk on the phone to celebrate family triumphs or get advice when times are tougher. A very valuable relationship . . . between the artist and the engineer.

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