Aurifil 2019 February Designer of the month Natalie Barnes

I’m Designer, Author, Talk Show host Pat Sloan.

In 2010 I created the first original Block of the month for Aurifil and it was so much fun we’ve done it ever year since! 2019 is my 9th year hosting this super fun sew along.  Learn more about how it works at our intro of the 2019 team

This year we challenged each designer to create a block inspired by ‘A tradition’ and I asked them to use  red & white fabrics  with just a splash of a color of their choice.

Natalie Barnes of ‘Beyond the Reef’ is a long time quilt maker, author, fabric designer for Windham, and very creative maker.  I first meet Natalie at a show in California.  She was vending and I was doing demo’s in a booth at the same show. I think I took every opportunity to go past her booth to look all the things. Over the years I’m so happy to see Natalie at the shows and to catch up with her current projects. And  did I mention Natalie loves color?

Visit Natalie at 

Missed a month? CLICK FOR PRIOR DESIGNER interviews

Remember we have a Challenge portion of our Designer of the Month interview.

Each month we select one random winner to receive a 12 LARGE spool BOX of Aurifil thread for just making the challenge block and sharing it! Details at the end plus last month’s winner!

Let’s get to know Natalie!

Where do you live and what is your favorite spot there?

I am a born and raised southern California girl. And I live at the beach. That means dress up is adding earrings and some bangles to your white shirt, jeans and tennies. But my favorite spot here, is with friends! Whether it’s stand up paddling, or kayaking, or combing the beach for sea glass, or cooking big pots of chili for the boat parade, it’s always better with friends. I guess I should have said Disneyland….or the Huntington Library….but friends win out – it’s the people.

When was your FIRST quilt sighting? Did it inspire you to start quilting?

I honestly don’t remember the very first quilt I ever saw….my grandmother taught me all of the needle arts – embroidery, knitting, crocheting. But when I started visiting Hawaii, I was introduced to traditional Hawaiian quilts, and needle turn applique. It’s where beyond the reef was born. the Kapaia Stitchery purchased my very first pattern Huki Lau (applique fish) – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Have you had a ‘light bulb’ moment in making

Gosh, every time I make a quilt, there’s something new to learn! But I would say the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the way you make quilts is by sewing…sitting down at the machine and sewing. Sounds sort of flip when I put it in words, but here’s the plan. If you have 15 minutes a day before you have to leave for work, you can complete a whole quilt top. If you are mentally exhausted by the end of the day and can only sew nine patches, sew nine patches and eventually you will have completed enough to make a whole quilt top. I had a friend in a friendship group who made leaves. She made all different size leaves. And when she was ready to applique, she would go to her pile of leaves and she would make a quilt top! Just a little bit each day – and your quilting will be a joy!

Do you have a favorite quilt you made or a technique that you do?

I really enjoy running stitch applique. After all of that needle turn, hide your stitches, I’m happy to grab a 12 wt or a 28 wt spool of Aurifil, needle turn the edges, and stitch them down with a happy to be seen running stitch! My fave quilt is one I made for myself last year. In the middle of working on all the samples for Homeward fabric release, I sat down and made myself a quilt. No pattern available. Never shown until now. Just for me…

What does your studio look like, and what would you change in it?

My studio, like my house, like the lot at the beach, is small.

It doubles as the library, the office and the guest room. But it’s convenient, if you know what I mean. Everything is within an arm’s length away. And there’s a great view through the kitchen and living room to the garden at the front of the house.

There’s room for the dog bed, and some Hallmark channel viewing when needed for chain piecing or string piecing. My studio, I guess you could say, is a “scrap quilt” style studio.

What is new in the land of Natalie?

I am so pleased to be designing fabrics for Windham Fabrics – and the opportunity they’ve given me to be a Guest Designer for Anthology Fabrics batiks! By the time you read this, “Homeward” fabrics will be in quilt shops (squeal). And let me tell you, seeing that name on the selvage never (ever) gets old. In July/August, ‘Island Home’ batiks will be in quilt shops. So for this project, I combined the two, to come up with my block, Hanalei Garden.

I also have the great pleasure to be a trained “Aurifilosopher” – which brings me to the joy of being able to work with Pat Sloan on this Designer of the Month project!! Once again, it’s the people! I’m thrilled.

What is your favorite book you have ever read?

My very favorite books are written by my very dear friend, Jill Marie Landis. Well, because it’s Jill! Another friend gave me the book, Adventures in Yarn Farming, Four Seasons on a New England Fiber Farm by Barbara Parry….I read each section in the corresponding season. It was a delicious, slow read.

What is your favorite place to take out of town guests?

My absolute favorite place to take a guest is kayaking on the bay, here in Alamitos Bay. Winter or summer, it’s a lovely paddle, very protected, and you can make it a long or a short tour of the area. Things look different from the water, and it’s always good to get a new perspective on life.

Are you a Dog, Cat or other animal person?

Definitely a dog person. I have a dog named Stitch. He was rescued from the mean streets, on my way home from Spring Market in Salt Lake City. There’s no getting around it, when you have a dog, you’ve got to get out and take that long walk in the morning and put in the miles before you start quilting! And Stitch is usually the person who tells me it’s time to call it a day, too.

What is your favorite movie and why?

Gosh – only one? Well, regardless of the controversy, I really liked The Greatest Showman – because of the positive, can do, against all odds, message, and of course, the music!!! (and dance).

What’s on your play list?

I like all types of music – from Sinatra to Lady Gaga + Bradley Cooper, and Alexi Murdoch to Xavier Rudd. Andra Day, Colbie Caillat and Dean Martin, all in the same breath….

What is your Favorite quote, and why?

“Whatever you can do begin it; boldness has genius power and magic in it.” Goethe I’ve found, at least for me, the procrastination often takes much longer than the actual project! Load up a box of bobbins with your favorite 50 wt. Aurifil (mine is a variegated neutral grey) and just start!

Are you named after anyone?

I wish I knew why my parents named me Natalie!! Altho my God Daughter, Natalie will always know how her name was selected – it was her brother, who said, “Why don’t we name the baby “Natalie”, then we’ll have a little Natalie and a big Natalie!” Now that she’s almost 6 feet tall, we’ve swapped names….just call me little Natalie…

What do you collect?

For a long while I collected Crooksville Ivalure Hibiscus dishes. And for a while I collected vintage sewing machines. And then I learned my lesson about collecting. I do have to say, tho, when I’m not using my Janome HD3000, I am sewing on any one of these vintage machines….I started collecting glass pitchers, too – and they ended up holding sewing tools in the studio.

What does your garden look like?

I have a sunny Southern California garden with palms large and small, Hawaiian Snow on the Mountain bushes, a meyer lemon tree, lots of arugula, chives, blueberry bushes, and my very own has avocado tree! All of that in a postage stamp yard. My neighbors love me!

Favorite Snack food?

I think nice bowl of crisp green grapes might be my favorite.

Who am I kidding. I’d say healthy popcorn smothered in real butter, but let’s face it. You can’t snack on that – your hands are all buttery and you can’t applique or work with fabrics… it’s not such a great sewing snack….but, I do love a bowl of warm, buttered popcorn…..

About your block – What Tradition are you celebrating?

In fine tradition, beyond the reef was started one rainy day on the North Shore of the island of Kauai. Those non traditional quilt patterns are still in publication. But the start of it all came from trying to achieve the beauty associated with traditional Hawaiian quilts. So this pieced block is my tribute to traditional Hawaiian design.

The anthurium, and the torch ginger remind me of Jill Marie Landis’ yard in Hanalei. And that rainy day on the lanai, when she said, “You know what you should do…..”


DOWNLOAD Natalie’s Hanalei Garden


Visit Natalie at:

Each year I make the Aurifil blocks in a totally different set of fabrics. This is my group for the year.

Pat’s TIPS – CLICK TO MY Website to see my February block TIPS!

Pat sloan thread kitEnter your block BELOW by March 15, 2019 to be in the running to win a BOX of Aurifil

This is SUPER EASY to enter all you have to do is make ONE BLOCK.

last month’s winner is below

And  JOIN my fantastic online quilt group with the most incredible  quilt show each day… I’d love to meet you!

1 Watermak-Needle-Black

******* JOIN our Aurifil Family  *******

EACH MONTH we will pick one random winner that has made a block.. that person will receive a special Aurifil thread prize! Winners are all contacted email

Our RANDOM picker selects the winner, selected  #29-Elaine S.  This awesome quilter has been emailed and WON a BOX of Aurifil thread!  .. see all the great versions HERE


  1. Your February block is perfect for me to make a few placements as my DDs family is currently posted at Fort Shafer for a few years in Honolulu.

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