Featured Friday

Lady K Quilts ~ Karen O’Connor

Lady K Quilts ~ Karen O’Connor

At International Quilt Festival in Houston last month, the Quilt-Pro booth was really decked out with beautiful quilts! All of these were designed in QPS, of course, and hanging front and center were two stunning sampler style quilts created by Karen O’Connor of Lady K Quilts. All of us here at QPS were excited to learn she’d be joining our crazy-talented collection of designers, but when we discovered she’d be sending us finished quilts of her work, we were over the moon! 

I am always interested in the processes of really talented people.  I recently got the chance to get a little peek inside this designer’s mind and learn a bit about her process. Today, I’m going to give you a peek inside too! Join me in Lady K’s studio for a transcript of our conversation. 

QPS: How long have you been designing quilt patterns?

Lady K:  I’ve been dabbling in design since 2004. On a professional level, I began designing for shops and for publication in 2015.

QPS: Why did you decide to start designing quilt patterns?

Lady K: Magazine patterns are what brought me to the craft. I looked at what was out there and thought: “I think I can do that!” I lacked confidence for a while, but with the growth of the last year and a half, my confidence has grown too!  Publishing patterns in magazines has become a full circle moment.

QPS: What was your inspiration for these two collections?

Lady K: This started out as one collection with 30 blocks!  After submitting them to Quilt-Pro Systems, Erica Shockey, Brand Manager for Quilt-Pro Systems, reached out to me sayingQPS loved all 30! She asked me to design 10 more and divide them into two collections. The blocks ranged from traditional to modern which provided an organic division between the two collections.

I would define myself as more of a modern traditionalist. I love taking the simple pure design of traditional blocks and then doing something unexpected with them!

Classic Twist is an ode to traditional design. Mostly traditionally pieced, there is only one block that is well served by EPP. This quilt was designed with the fabrics of Amy Sinibaldi’s Sonata line by Art Gallery Fabrics. The blue background fabric is a from the denim line also by Art Gallery Fabrics. This quilt can be seen in QPS booths all across the country in 2019!

The Fresh Twist collection could be defined as modern traditionalist. It’s made up of classic blocks with a fresh twist. The result is an updated look.  My goal was ease of design and I love that QPS does the math for me. In the Fresh Twist quilt, I have used blocks from the collection, sizing them from 4” to 16”. Without having to do the math myself I was able to draft this unexpected result! These blocks are slightly more advanced than in the first collection inasmuch as they utilize FPP. In this quilt, I chose Carolyn Friedlander’s Architextures, Robert Kauffman’s Essex linens, and Kona solids. This improvisational piecing was easily achieved using the free-form layout in QPS combined with the shading and layering of Carolyn Friedlander’s fabrics  As a linear, logical, left brain-thinker this quilt really required me to step outside my comfort zone in piecing.

QPS: Your use of color is fun and fresh! Can you tell our readers what colorways you’re drawn to?

Lady K: I have made a lot of shop samples and I’d tell you my brain is lazy and likes to work in a collection! Classic Twist was perfect for Amy Sinebaldi Sonata fabrics, so that’s what I chose for it.  The blue background fabric is Art Gallery denim and provided beautiful texture. Other than that, I love prettybold color with low-volume contrast. Blues, reds, and corals fill my studio!

QPS: Why did you choose QPS for digital designing?

Lady K: Erica is a great representative for this product. After chats with her, I really liked where the company is going and I wanted to be a part of it! The social media footprint is exciting and this product works perfectly in that venue. I’m really happy to be a part of something so exciting and “on the move”.

QPS: Do you have a favorite part of the process?

Lady K: The rotary cutter tool! I’d used the competition since 2004, but this rotary cutter was a game changer. I discovered that I could load any design and re-imagine it with the rotary cutting tool. This tool helped me develop a more intuitive understanding of block design. I was able to think of the block library as a digital book of patterns that had 100% control overgiving me endless options!

QPS: What new things might be in store for Lady K Quilts?

Lady K:  Watch for more social media-based news and events with QPS. It’s a digital world and QPS is at the forefront of that wave. In my studio, watch for sew-alongs with new collections next year. Sampler quilts are the rage, and the new fabrics presented at Market 2018 are going to be really fun to design with. I can’t wait to see what DigiStash has in store for us. I really hope that people realize that digital tools like Quilt-Pro are not intimidating at all. This is simply one more tool in my arsenal!

I do hope Karen’s work is as inspiring for you as it is for me. If you would like to follow her, you can find her on Facebook, Instagram and the Web at Lady K Quilts. 

Follow the links below to purchase Lady K’s collection in our Designer Series. Then, follow me here for the next installment of Featured Friday! 


Classic Twist by Lady K Quilts is a collection of twenty blocks inspired by tradition and classic style. Designed to be pieced quickly and easily, use these blocks to make beautiful quilts that will be a joy to create, use, and display. Use your favorite fabric collection or try using solids to create a more modern look but be confident knowing that these striking blocks will come together effortlessly. Utilize the many options this software offers when it comes to designing projects using Lady K Quilts Classic Twist Blocks.


Fresh Twist is a quilt block collection of twenty blocks that are designed with the modern and edgy quilter in mind.  Make a sampler using all twenty blocks or pick and chose to create something unexpected in your quilt design.  Use one block to create cool secondary designs that surprise you.  Using a mix of traditional and foundation paper piecing, with a skill level ranging from confident beginner to a challenge seeking maker, have fun making eye catching quilts and projects using Lady K Quilts Fresh Twist Collection.


Comments (1)

I’m a beginner, this looks a bit scary to me. I’ve had my Quilt Pro for 2 years and haven’t figured out how to use it yet!

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