An Interview with Prairie Sky Quilting’s Susan Nelson, Part 1

Recently Susan Nelson, the designer of Prairie Sky Quilting‘s patterns, answered a few questions for our inquiring minds. 

How did you start your adventure with quilting?  Did someone mentor you or influence you?

I started sewing at 10 years old, making garments.  I went on to do tailoring and alterations during college, while I majored in Textiles & Clothing.  Several years later, my first quilt was a Trip Around The World design, made for a full size bed.  With my sewing background, I was confident in being a self-taught quilter.  Looking back, it think that was not a good decision, and I should have taken classes!  I traced 2″ squares around a cardboard template and cut them out with scissors.  (Having started my quilting endeavors with all the latest tools I can’t imagine making any quilt with cardboard templates and scissors.  And then to think you tackled a full size Trip Around The World!  You are brave!)  It’s no surprise that after that experience it was a few years until I got back into quilting.  Like so many quilters, I was motivated by the birth of my first child, since every baby needs a quilt!  I made a smaller version of the Trip Around The World design.  And this time, used a rotary cutter and strip piecing.  I have been hooked on quilting ever since then.

There is no one in my family who quilted, and I’m still the only one!  I have two daughters who aren’t interested in sewing or quilting, but maybe they will change their minds someday!    

We’ll keep our fingers crossed that someday your daughters will share your passion.  It will probably coincide with the births of your grandchildren!   So you were hooked on quilting…. what prompted you to start designing patterns?

I was teaching at a local quilt shop, and was asked to teach a quilt-as-you-go technique.  That particular method made beautiful quilts, but was very challenging for most quilters.  I saw the appeal that quilt-as-you-go had for my students, and wondered if I could find an easier way.  So, I experimented with some scraps for a while, and came up with an easy method.  I showed it to the shop and other friends, and no one knew of anything similiar on the market.  I named the method “Fun&Don!”, started teaching it at the shop, and went into the pattern business!

Do you have a favorite type of quilting?

One of the most appealing features of this art is its variety.  I started quilting knowing that I would never be interested in hand work, but I soon changed my mind and became interested in hand applique.  Now, I’m looking for a hand-piecing  project that I can take with me on-the-go.  I love classic piecing, paper piecing, hand applique, machine applique, and machine quilting.  There’s always something new to learn, so it’s always interesting and fun!  For my patterns, I look for easy methods that appeal to beginner quilters. But I also make quilts that I enter into contests, where I push myself to do very complicated pieces.  I enjoy the challenge, and it’s been very rewarding to win a few prizes too!

This is Swish & Swirl, one of Susan’s show quilts.  You can see the rest of her quilts on her website – check out the Susan’s Show Quilts page.    They are all stunning.

Come back in a day or two for the second half of Susan’s interview.  She has lots more to say!  And don’t forget to comment on this post for another chance to win three Prairie Sky Quilting patterns!   Read more about the giveaway at this post.


  • Wow Swish and Swirl is such a beautiful quilt.

  • What a wonderful quilt.

  • Yes, I started quilting when my daughter was born….needed a quilt for her bed, and then it blossomed! She once told her friends “I’ve never had anything other than handmade on my bed.” I love Susan’s show quilt…looks very difficult!

  • Wow…beautiful quilt! Love the. Plods!
    Karen. Khrabak@

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