Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Doll Quilt Swap 2020

I mentioned a couple weeks ago how I was excited that I got in to an international doll quilt swap that I had admired from afar for a few years. Read more about that here: NeedleThimble and Thread Doll Quilt Swap 2020

The doll quilt I received just arrived--all the way from the Netherlands! Miranda Sol-van Paemel, @mirandasolvan, made this for me. Look at all the details and hand stitching. Miranda says this is she and her daughter and their dog from an earlier time, way back. What a unique design:

"Remember Me", 14" x 19" 

The labels on the back are Dutch Wooden Shoes--perfect!

The quilt and all the goodies that came in the package

An adorable cat pin cushion

Dutch Cinnamon Sticks--we used Translate to read all about these. So yummy, mostly cinnamon and sugar!

Great little scissors--these just might be air travel safe

A tiny tin and several lovely tea bags

We do not get to know who is making a quilt for us so it is a total surprise when the package arrives. In this time of Corona virus, I wasn't surprised the package took 24 days to cross the ocean--not too bad.

This was a wonderful swap and I am so glad I got in. Thank you to Christine of Needle Thimble and Thread on Instagram for creating this swap and being sure her rules are followed. I knew whatever I got would be wonderful. This surpassed my expectations. 

I encourage you to check out #ntatdqs2020  on  Instagram  to see photos of all the amazing doll quilts that were swapped--all hand quilted and made with the utmost care.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Cat Is Out of the Bag

The other day Alex Anderson told the world I am making the 2021 Block of the Month quilt for The Quilt Show. Yes, that is the "Secret Sewing" I have been working for a while now.

The designer is the amazing Wendy Williams. She lives in Australia so will not be able to come to the US next month for the taping of the show that will present the quilt to the world. The show will air January 1, 2021, but I will be in Dallas taping it August 21, 2020--less than 4 weeks from now.

Check out the wonderful designs Wendy has made--her patterns are for sale on her website:  Flying Fish Kits   The quilt we will be making as the 2021 TQS Block of the Month is NOT one of those patterns. Wendy has designed an exclusive quilt pattern just for TQS members and it will ONLY be available on beginning January 1, 2021 and running until December 31, 2021.

Over the Hill by Wendy Williams
Round the Garden by Wendy Williams

My Place or Yours by Wendy Williams
These are just teasers of the kind of patterns Wendy designs and the bright colors she likes to use. The look is fresh and vibrant and exciting.

The Australian look is different from what I usually gravitate to but I LOVE this quilt and am having a lot of FUN making it. I learned a new-to-me-technique, paper piecing with Freezer Paper, that I am eager to share with you.The quilting is in the home stretch and I am enjoying that process too.

No, I still can't show you the quilt--be patient another month or two, but here is a teaser:

Just some of the threads I am quilting with--this is the back of the quilt
As usual, I have several projects going. at the same time. This week I finished the top for a new workshop I am calling "It's a Puzzle", based on an antique quilt that looks much more complicated than it is. It is now basted and I am thinking about quilting designs as I do other things:

The other project that will become a new workshop is still under construction--being used as a Leader/Ender project at the moment. Also based on an antique block, I call this "Cobblestones". I designed it in EQ8 in a variety of sizes. 12" was too big, 8" and 7" had weird sizes for the pieces, 6" is more workable, so it will be a smaller quilt, like a crib or toddler size:

Back to the quilting of the 2021 Block of the Month--so glad I can talk about it, just a bit.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Utility Sewing

I have been sewing by machine since I was 10. Garments, accessories, doll clothes, and lots and lots of quilts over these many years. Now I have to sew something I don't like making.

Masks. Ugh. I do not like making masks. But it is necessary, so I do it. There are thousands of patterns on the Internet. I combined a few, along with some suggestions from friends, so mow I have a workable process that doesn't take too long.

Stella, my 5 year old granddaughter, will be going to Kindergarten in a few weeks and masks are required. The couple I made her some weeks ago were too big. She came for a sleepover yesterday so I had her here for "custom fitting".

Here she is in her "Wonder Woman" mask--one I retro-fitted since the original was too wide and too loose. She says she isn't smiling but how can you tell?

The rest of the batch. In the lower right is a Mary Engelbright print that says "Princess of Quite A Lot".  The loops are made from hair ties I cut in half--saw that on some post on Facebook or Instagram so gave it a try. It works. Nine should keep her covered for a while:

When I was a little girl, I LOVED to play with old buttons we had in cigar boxes and cookie tins. I have saved them all these years and yesterday encouraged Stella to play with them. The two small tins once held bouillon cubes and the sticker on top of one says $.19. They were hard to open, so PopPop took care of that--filled with tiny buttons.

She sorted and poured and played and said "BB, look at this one!", lots of times. It kept her occupied while I worked on the masks and made my heart happy:

What happens when Daddy packs the overnight bag and there is nothing that looks like pajamas. BB finds the smallest T-shirt in her drawer for a nightshirt:

What I want to be sewing and will finish assembling today. A new class sample called "It's a Puzzle":

What are you working on? Making masks?  My secret sewing needs to get done--the quilting is about half done so that moves up the priority list. I will be making a trip with it in 4 weeks and was just told masks will be required for everyone, all day, every day. So a few more masks, in my most favorite fabrics, still need to be made.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Alex Anderson's Mystery Quilt

During this time of Staying at Home, and Quilter's Quarantine, Alex Anderson has posted on Facebook Live three times a week, mostly to help all us quilters stay connected and productive in these uncertain times.

First, a confession: Alex is a friend and I work for her and Ricky Tims on The Quilt Show, helping with the Block of the  Month quilts and other assorted tasks. So I an not an unbiased observer. BUT I have been a Star Member of The Quilt Show forever, handing over my money the first day I could, in 2007. Best money I can spend on quilting--I have learned so much and made many friends, worldwide, through our connection on The Quilt Show.

Many people have "found" Alex for the first time or for the first time in a long time with her Facebook Live posts. If you don't do Facebook, the great news is all of the videos are recorded and available on You Tube--Alex and Ricky Live

Starting tomorrow, Monday July 20, 2020, Alex will be teaching a Mystery Quilt, featuring some Kaffe Fassett fabrics along with lots of solids. Just so you know--Kaffe is pronounced like "Safe". You are invited to play along--I know you will learn things, have fun, and it's FREE.

Here is a Kaffe Brassica fabric, the kind Alex loves to use. This is not the one she is using for her quilt, just a colorway I really love:

Recently, Alex said quilters basically work in one of two ways. Some like to have a pattern, all fabrics in hand, and know exactly what they are making before they begin. Others just start and see what happens. Alex and I are in that later camp. Here is that process:

1.Come up with an idea
2. Select fabrics you want to play with
3. Start
4. Use a design wall to help you make decisions as you go

You can start at any time. Watch the videos and when you get inspired, start. The videos are all posted on YouTube whenever you want to watch.

Alex is calling this a Mystery Quilt because she doesn't know what it will look like until it's done--neither will you. Just use fabric you love and all will be well. If you just can't work that way, watch all the videos and when the Mystery Quilt is done, whenever that is, you can decide if you want to make it. Then Start.

For The Quilt Show members, we have a Forum topic where you can ask questions, post photos, and enjoy the process more with like-minded friends. This is especially helpful for those who don't do Facebook:  Forum--Kaffe Mystery Quilt--Learn with Alex

Here is a fabric pull for this project by JudySews, I found it on the Forum. These fabrics make me swoon:

Here comes my sales pitch again: The Quilt Show provides so much bang for your buck. Currently, they are offering a Stay At Home Special, 6 months for $19.95 or 12 months for $39.95. This offer is good for new Star Members AND those who want to  renew. You get access to ALL THE SHOWS FROM THE BEGINNING--that's 13 + years. The current Block of the Month pattern, Aftternoon Delight by Sue Garman, is FREE--an $80 bonus. And so much more. The four Master Classes, available right now for members, feature some of the best advice on Piecing and Applique--a chance to refresh our memories on all that great info available on the shows.

I hope you will take a look at both and Alex and Ricky's Playlist on YouTube. So much terrific content--plenty to get you inspired and productive.

Which type quilter are you? Have to know what you are making ahead of time? Or someone who takes an idea and gives it a try?

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Littles Came to Visit

This post is more family than quilting--jump to the bottom for the quilt.

We had our grandkids for 4 days recently--their Mom had major surgery so they spent 4 days with each set of grandparents so Mom had a week to get a bit better before having them home.

My loves.  Stella is 5, PopPop is more, Sam is almost 2:

 The kids love each other, most of the time, always hug when meeting up again--this is a morning hug upon awakening:
 Stella is a super big sister, always watching out for her "brudder", and teaching him things, like "watch out for the street", "say please and thank you", etc.:
When my two sons were this size I was 40 years younger. Things I forgot:

1. Kids are loud
2. Kids are messy
3. Changing diapers is still not fun--at least we aren't using cloth diapers like I did in the Stone Age
4. Siblings fight over toys--buy two, if possible
5. Kids eat almost hourly--not a lot at once, just very frequently
6. PopPops are pushovers--whatever the grands want, they get
7. Sometimes an Ipad is your best friend:

Watching Disney+ while we watch the news

All in all, the kids did great and we managed pretty well. We did FaceTime each day with Mon and Dad--lots of kisses on our phone screens--and that helped. Stella would be really worried about Mommy for a few minutes then got busy being Stella and all was well.

She is a great picker of blackberries. The first day she picked these and said "BB, we need pie!" And so we had a blackberry pie. She also taught Sam not to pick the red ones, only the black ones:

The best things about Littles I forgot:

1. Snuggling up in a big chair to read books is wonderful
2. Laughing at all the funny things they say and do is wonderful
3. Watching them sleep is like seeing angels--and that is wonderful

So they are back home now. The house is more or less clean and tidy again, and really quiet. I can sew to my heart's content. It was good for all of us, especially Mommy and Daddy who were able to concentrate on Lauren's recovery, which is going very well.

For the next week or so, I will be hunkered down quilting my secret sewing project, which is on deadline:

Let's quilt.

Barbara AKA BB

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Doll Quilt Swap

I was fortunate to get into the Doll Quilt Swap organized by Needle Thimble and Thread on Instagram. see #ntatdqs2020 to see many beautiful little quilts being made to swap. Those who participated in the prior year get first chance to sign up for the current year and sometimes no one new is added. This year a few spots opened up and I was excited I got in.

The one I made for this swap is ready to take a trip in the mail to its new home:

18" square


Handquilting with wool batting is so easy!
The rules were simple:

1. Reproduction Fabrics, quilt shop quality
2. No smaller than 14" x 14", no larger than 18" x 18"
3. Handquilting only
4. Theme is "Remember Me"
5. Do your best--make something you would love to receive
6. In progress photos were required at specific times--the top in progress, the quilting in progress
7. Label including the theme "Remember Me", the name and  location of the maker, the maker's Instagram name
8. Keep to the deadline

As the quilt must be in the mail by August 1, 2020, I am within the deadline. I used 3" blocks from the Temecula Quilt Company's Stay At Home Sampler--it was free on Instagram in April. The blocks are still there should you want them. 

I will put a few little "goodies" in the package and get it to the Post Office on Monday. I hope the person I made it for likes it.

Swaps are popular but do have pluses and minuses. I have written about them several times before. Put swap in the Search box on the upper left of this page to find them.

Have you participated in a Swap? Was it fun and successful?

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Houses are HOT!

With all the talk of "safer at home", "staying at home", "quarantined at home", etc., quilters are making house blocks and house quilts in record numbers.

I wanted to make one too BUT:

1. I have a great house quilt I made a couple years ago, called The Village

2. I am too busy with deadline projects--like usual

SO, when I saw a great house quilt top made by a friend who recently passed away, I snapped that up in a hurry!

It is an unusual size and as I look at it I think I will remove some of the lower rows to make it smaller and have more houses/trees for another small quilt. It also needs another border or two. My husband saw it on the design wall and said "That's nice--when did you make that?"  Thanks to my friend for making it--little did she know, I would buy it and it would be mine.

My quilt, The Village--a great workshop quilt I have taught several times. The next time I teach it, we will do freezer paper piecing--teaching a new skill for most quilters:

I finished Foothills, washed and dried it, and we have been sleeping under it--a great topper for our king-size bed. My husband likes the AC at brrrrr level so we need extra cover at night. This is one of my most favorite quilts I've made, so glad it is done:

 The pattern is available Here.

This week I am quilting the "secret sewing" quilt and loving how it is coming along:

Using Superior's Microquilter 100 wt thread for all the ditch work, it can hardly be seen. The thread color on the back matches so perfectly that when I do need to take a bit of it out because OOPS happen, it is very hard to see the stitches. When all the "bones" are added, the stitch in the ditch lines, I will use a larger thread, probably King Tut or So Fine 50 wt, to create more texture and designs on the quilt. It is SO hard not to show it to you, but eventually...

This is blackberry season in my yard, which lasts about two weeks. Where I turn this:

 into this:

Never forget to put a cookie tray under a fruit pie before it bakes. SO glad I didn't have to clean the oven after this was done. And it was as yummy as it looks. The rest of the berries will go in the freezer to become Blackberry Cobbler for Christmas dessert.

Are YOU making house blocks or a house quilt? What else are you making that has a connection to the COVID-19 time in our life?

Let's quilt,


Sunday, July 5, 2020

QUILTING--By Hand, Machine or None at All?

Tops are done, it's time to quilt.

Recently, I finished machine quilting Foothills on the Bernina Q20 Sit-Down Longarm:

I adore this quilt and have written about it before:  The Quilt A-Long, and Changing My Mind as well as a few other times--use the Search box in the upper Left for Foothills to find them all.

The quilting designs I came up with please me and, overall, my free motion and ruler work quilting are getting better. Binding is almost done, sleeve is in place and the label is ready to attach.

Hand quilting is also something I enjoy though I do less of it now than I did years ago. My older hands feel the strain of such repetitive motion so I save it for special quilts.

This year I was fortunate to get accepted into the doll quilt swap run by Needle Thimble and Thread on Instagram. It is a small group swap and those who participated the year before get first chance at signing up for the current year. If there are any open spots, a couple new folks might be added.

I got in! And the rules are simple: no smaller than 14" X 14", no larger than 18" x 18", handquilting only, wool or cotton batt, reproduction fabrics, and your best work is expected. And stick to the timeline. Reasonable requirements. You can see many photos of these quilts in progress on Instagram:  #ntatdqs2020  Many of them are amazingly beautiful and complex!

The day I was accepted, I made my top--from 3" blocks made with the Stay at Home sampler patterns from Temecula Quilt Company on Instagram

I have been handquilting on it this past month, off and on. A few more nights and the handquilting will be done--the binding, sleeve and label are made. I find stitch in the ditch quilting by hand repetitious and boring so was very glad when I got to the outer border and could do a little fancy work:

Later in July it will be sent off to it's new home...

And, then, sometimes, I make a project with no quilting at all. I  saw these silhouette projects while teaching in Texas last year, and bought one. This week I finally took the time to make it:

There was very little time involved--watching the video was especially helpful:  Stirrups and Stitches
There is a wide variety of patterns available, no sewing at all, so this would make a great project to do with an interested kid. Hung in a window, the batik fabric really glows.

So there you have my quilting life at this time. Do you prefer to hand or machine quilt?

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020


We are moving right along and this month there are only two applique' blocks to do. One of those is a variation of the "Twirly Ball" we did previously in Months 3 and 5. If you want a refresher on how I made the first one of those go to Afternoon Delight--Month 3

For those working on Double 9 Patch blocks, those continue this month too. I gave important cutting info about the Double 9 Patches when we released Month 6 early, in March, so if you haven't started them yet, be sure to take a look at that post: Double 9 Patches.  Remember, there are 64 Double 9 Patches in the quilt.


Both of the applique blocks this month feature circles. Recently, I learned about a new product, Applipops. They are metal disks that fit together, making it very easy to create round circles.

Take a look at their short video from the website to see the process: Applipops Video

I got 2 Pro Packs so I could try them out and used them with the 3 different size circles needed this month. 

UPDATE--Applipops has a discount for YOU--use BARBSFRIEND as a discount code to get 10% off your order. 

The process is very easy. The instructions say to use undiluted liquid starch and I should have. I had a 50/50 starch/water mix in a small spray bottle so used that. The edges would have been stuck down better with straight liquid starch.

First step: cut a hunk of fabric and place it between two disks:

 Trim to about a 1/4" seam allowance, less on very small circles. On the largest circle, I left too  much seam allowance so the edges have a few little puckers on the back.

If I were hand-appliqueing these, I could easily smooth out the little puckers:

Note I sprayed this red fabric on a washcloth as I just recently changed my big ironing board cover and knew the red might run--it clearly did:

The only down side I can see is you  have to wait for the metal disks to cool before handling them, and the starch to dry before removing  the disks. With two sets I can make two of each size at the same time. Since I didn't need a lot of circles, that was OK. If you need to make 20 of the same size, at the same time, it might take a while.

My usual method of making small circles is with Karen Buckley's Perfect Circles, sets of Mylar circles. That method requires basting around the template. If making a lot, that would take some time. On the Forum recently, someone posted she machine basted instead of hand basted and I thought that was brilliant! You can't go fast but it would still be faster than hand-basting. See Karen demo her process on Show 2007

Be sure to look at the Forum to see some of the fabrics being used by our members. Also, some people are choosing to change from an On-Point set to a Straight Set.  Forum--Show and Tell Your Blocks

This month's blocks on my sample quilt:
Block 23

Block 24
Next month there are two more applique' blocks and more Double 9 Patches.

Let's quilt,