Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Favorite Things

 I did clean up my studio a little bit so I won't come home from Houston to a mess. 

There are a few special things in my studio I thought I would share. First, are two beachscapes I bought from my very talented friend, Eileen Williams. I love everything about these. The top one is 5" x 8", the larger one is 9" x 12".  Having shells and beads sewn on makes them so special, and I love the driftwood hanger on the bottom one. I don't get to the beach near as often as I wish so these help take me there:

Be sure to check out her beautiful work on her website: Fiber Art Quilts. She has had several gallery exhibitions this year so many of her pieces have sold. She has won numerous awards for her work over the years.  Read more about our lifelong friendship in this post: A Visit With Friends

The other item on my studio wall that makes me smile every day is this:

Garth Brooks, the inscription says "Barbara, sure love your boy--God bless your family, Garth". 

My son, Joshua Black Wilkins, is a professional photographer in Nashville, TN. A few years ago he was working on a shoot there with Garth Brooks. As it happened to be my birthday, I told Joshua to tell him his mother is a big fan. I have loved Garth's music from the beginning. During a break, Joshua did tell him that and Garth instantly asked for my address. A few days later I received a large box from Oklahoma. Not knowing anyone in OK, I was surprised and curious. It was full of all the merchandise sold at his shows. Lots of t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, stickers, all that stuff. Included was this signed photo. And a 3-CD set of all his music and a DVD of a big show. Pretty sweet and unexpected, for sure.  I hung this where Garth can watch me at my pressing station:

The Flying Geese quilt above is called Snowbirds by Jinny Beyer--I made it in 2000. On the left is a tiny twister quilt made by my friend, Ellen, in 2013. 

So, while I'm off to Houston, I will try to post a few simple posts about quilty things.

Be sure to check out the Tutorials tab above to find lots of helpful posts for quilting issues/techniques.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, October 17, 2021

Pre-Houston Studio Chaos

 If a messy space is the sign of an organized mind, I am in good shape. Several projects are in various stages and I don't want to put them away:

There is more Secret Sewing I thought I was done with but something came up and I had to make 3 more blocks, the kind that are not easy but make you feel accomplished when done. Sneak peek:

I also began an "I Spy" quilt for my 3 year old grandson's "big boy bed" which he will move into soon--one block of 63 done is a start, right?

This is the annual pre-Houston rush to get LOTS done. I will be gone close to two weeks so there are bills to pay, clothes packing to plan, laundry to do so the suitcases can get packed, appointments for personal stuff like hair and nails, and the usual, annual doctor visits I should know NOT to schedule in October. Two weeks ago I got the booster shot so this past week I also got the annual flu vaccine, a must before going to Houston--that's just part of  my annual Fall routine.

At least I don't have any garments to make this year, I will be using prior year garments according to the schedule we have been given. 

Staging area for packing--those two suitcases will be full soon and I'll be on my way to one of my most favorite places, with great people, my favorite hotel, and good food. And the weather is usually the best in Houston in the Fall. 

International Quilt Festival will be extra special this year because the Special Exhibit "My Joyful Journey" will be on full display. Twenty-three of my quilts, representing some of my earliest works to the four Best Of Show quilts, and those that mean the most to me in my journey as a professional quiltmaker. If you come to Festival, I hope our paths will cross during your visit. 

For those who can't make it, I'll take lots of photos and plan to create an "e-book" when I get home.  More on that when it's all set.

Let's quilt. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Round Robin Progress

 Two of the Round Robin quilts being made in the Sunday Sew and Sews are now complete. Meaning, they will be returned to their owner and she can decide if it is done or is worthy of more borders.

One is mine and I love it!  It's 42" square at the moment:

I began with the 12" Rising Sun variation, with the navy blue frame around it. The next person added the four-patch borders. The next person went all out with the applique' borders--I LOVE the sweet birds. The last person to work on it added the flying geese borders--she knows I love flying geese and use them often in my quilts.

I've been pondering what to do next. Here are some ideas:

four-patches on point

Diamond borders

4" X-blocks, also called Old Italian blocks

5" or 6" Log cabin blocks

I will probably try a few sample blocks of some of these ideas to see what I think.

The last one I worked on is also done and ready to be returned to Pam E. It's 41"square now:

Pam began with the Sunburst center from "Trip Around the Sun" by Material Girlfriends. The first person added the 1" sawtooth border. The next person added the lovely dancing stars border--one of Sue Garman's borders from Stars for a New Day. A "floater" border made everything fit just right. 

I added the Dogtooth border and "floater" to make it fit. That paper-pieced border is one I designed for an upcoming project and it was exactly half the size I needed for Pam's quilt. So I made 8 of them, joined two each into a single border and had just what I needed. The four hearts in the corners kept the corners simple. 

There are 8 of us working on these Round Robins, four in each group. If you get much more than 4, the quilts start to get really big. Everyone has until the first Sunday in November to finish the one they have so there will be more to show then.

I wrote about how to organize this kind of project in detail. Find that post here: How to Organize a Round Robin

Let's quilt.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Family Vacation

NOTE: This a family post about our recent vacation. If you aren't interested, just scroll on by. Quilts will be back with the next blog.

We were supposed to go to the beach last summer. Obviously, that didn't happen. So last week we finally got a family vacation at a Cabin in the woods in Tennessee: 

Find the link to the property here: Airbnb  It is really out there, away from any town. But only 2.5 hours from home.

A large cabin that will sleep 20, if they are all friendly, it was a good size for the 8 of us. The young family, our son and his wife, and the two grands, 6 and 3, had the lower level. A home theater room, a game table, two bedrooms--one with bunk beds, a twin, and a double bed and the other with a king bed, and a full bath. I told Stella this was their "apartment". It kept all the kid stuff contained and the kids were happily entertained with the big screen TV when the adults wanted to talk upstairs. 

My older son and his woman had the upper floor--two bedrooms, each with 2 queen beds, and a full bath, giving them privacy and comfort.

We had the  main floor bedroom, quite large, with a king bed and full bath with jacuzzi tub:

a quilt from home

lots of space in the master

So many wonderful experiences, I'll just touch on a few. 

1. The first and last night we had great weather for an incredible night sky. No ambient light for many miles, made it possible to see so many stars, planets, the International Space Station (ISS) and other satellites. We sat on the deck for a long time enjoying this:

2. The kids got to go on a long hike a couple days, down the steep, curvy drive, to the creek way below. They enjoyed their "adventure":

Their uncle Josh, our eldest, has always been a collector of cool things like rocks, arrowheads, and fossils. Some of his finds:

While we were there, a new swing set was installed, giving the kids some extra fun:

3. We ate very well. All provisions had to be brought with us and the two refrigerators were full the first day. I made breakfast each day, the other two families were tasked with dinner. Lunch was whatever each family brought. Joshua has mastered the art of the smoker and his two meals were pulled pork and smoked salmon. Both were SO AMAZING! He declared the salmon the best he has ever done and it was fine dining worthy, the best I have ever had. There were NO LEFTOVERS of salmon.  Our grands are great eaters--I credit their Mom for that. They both loved the salmon dinner:

Smoked salmon, roasted broccoli, roasted homegrown carrots

Tuesdays' dinner, smoked pork--wish you could smell this

4. We surprised my husband with an early birthday celebration. His birthday isn't for a few more weeks but this was when we could all be together. The first night was the cake and ice cream:

The last night was the BIG SURPRISE.  A few months ago he told me "someday" he wanted to taste Dom Perignon champagne. As he rarely asks for anything, I knew right then I would bring a bottle to the family vacation. Joshua sourced it for me, and it was hidden away until the last night, the fine dining salmon dinner night:

Of course, he was given the honor of the LAST DROP: 

It was the perfect surprise, he was so touched and happy to spend this special birthday with his family.

5. We had a couple days of rain but that made for conversation time, jigsaw puzzles, naps and music. Joshua had recently received the brand new Recording King Justin Townes Earle signature guitar--a tribute to his friend, JTE, who passed away a year ago. Joshua got the kids strumming and they  loved it:


Joshua's girlfriend, Cait, had a great time, especially with the kids. We don't get to see enough of her so it was really nice to have the whole family together, including Cait:

6. The last night was perfect for the long-awaited "s'mores at the firepit" event. It's a bit of a long walk down to the firepit from the cabin and an even longer walk back up in the pitch dark:

View from the deck

Sam supervising PopPop make the fire: 

When it got dark, it was time for Ghost Stories. Stella made this up on the fly, she is destined for the stage, don't you think?! Worth the less than 2 minute view:

After a quick jacuzzi bath for the kids (better check for ticks) they were ready for a long nights' sleep.

Up early the last day, we all packed up after breakfast and headed for home. It was truly great to have all this family time together, I just wish I had taken more photos, especially a group selfie with us all. 

Four days was just about the perfect amount of time. No one was grouchy and the food was just about gone. Except for the leftover BBQ pork--I brought most of that home!

Now, let's quilt.


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Student Work and Class Offerings

 I spent some time with students last week at Sweet Home Quilting, a local quilt shop and INNOVA dealer.

In the morning, the monthly lecture/demo class met for Color My World. This runs all year, and allows those making the 2021 Block of the Month quilt for The Quilt Show to show off their progress in person and get specific help as needed. Great ideas come from this sharing experience.

Cyndi always has good ideas and she adapted the Little House in the City pattern to have fewer seams in the background. In the lower portion, she combined sections 1, 2 and 3 first, then added the one piece of background to either side. Very clever: 

On the left, is the original pattern, blocks made by my friend Pam. On the right are Cyndi's blocks, before the trees are added. 

Cyndi's Tall Buildings, ready for the Little Houses to be sewn in  place:
Paula's progress, made completely from silk, a lot of garment remnants and ties: 

As every fabric is interfaced, it's quite heavy: 

Beverly is making progress:

Beverly got help designing the Saturn V rocket pattern that is a highly recognizable landmark in Huntsville, AL. The pattern was the 2016 Row by Row block from Patches & Stitches, another local quilt shop. They still have this pattern available for sale:

By increasing the diagram on the pattern above by 200%, Beverly has an almost perfect size paper pattern. Here you see the original full size design and the design area for the Corner Skyscraper: 

For those looking for Lighthouses,  the Washington Monument, Windmills, etc.,  first search online for such patterns. You may find exactly what you are looking for and will only have to adjust for the size needed. The Seattle Space Needle is very similar to the Centrepoint Tower which will be provided November 1--it would be very easy to change the shape at the top of that pattern to create your own version of the Space Needle.

Mary-Louise hasn't let some medical issues keep her from making progress:

I have seen several photos of fussy cutting cute things in the windows and doors of these buildings:

In the afternoon, six students gathered to learn how to make Scrappy Trips,  a free pattern from Bonnie Hunter, available here, on her blog  This is Bonnie's version--I love that green border: 

A quick description of how to select fabrics, the size to cut, and how to get started had everyone ready to begin: 

Each student quickly got the hang of it and blocks started to  appear: 

In less than 3 hours each person had two blocks done, or very close, and declared this a great "scrap buster" quilt. It is good for donation quilts, or a Girl Scout/Boy Scout project or to teach someone who wants to learn the basics of making pieced blocks without much stress: 

Sadly, I had to cancel two local classes recently, due to lack of interest. If you are not interested in taking a local class at this time, I would like to know why. Some  have really gotten used to sewing at home, taking ZOOM classes. Some are not ready to gather in public spaces yet.  Maybe it's just lack of sufficient advertising. 

The classes were good ones I was eager to offer locally, and the couple people who signed up were disappointed the classes were canceled. I will try one of them again locally next year but the other will not be offered again as the sample quilt is a gift for a friend and I won't own it any more.

The one I will offer again, Charming Sampler, uses 5" charm packs and teaches a LOT of tricks for making 4 different blocks quickly, as well as paper piecing for those who want to give that a go. I also sneak in some "quilters math" on how to make these same blocks larger than the 3" used here. It has been a successful class the previous times I've taught it:

As I am starting to travel to teach again, there will be less time to offer local classes. If you see a class you are interested in locally, mine or other teachers', sign up or perhaps miss the chance on that project. This is true for all shops/guilds--support them when they provide learning opportunities whenever you can.

Let's quilt.


Friday, October 1, 2021


 It's Month 10 and we've got an easy month: 4 Little Houses in the City. Even if you are not making Color My World, this is a terrific little house for other projects:

one of mine in the completed quilt

These are pretty easy to make, there is only one piecing step that might seem a bit confusing. 

Pieces 2 and 3 are the Window sections and they are  made separately, then joined before being sewn to piece 1, the Door section. My friend Pam provides me with hers so I can share these visuals with you. She writes on the paper--what fabrics go where, and that really helps. There are some tiny pieces of House above those small windows. 

Here you see pieces 2 and 3 upside down--they are ready to be sewn together to create the Window row and can then be added to the lower Door section:

We add tree trunks to both sides of the Little House, using the Clover 1/4"  Quick Bias makes this a snap. I printed the Placement Guide for the Trees on vellum so I could see through it:

Pam made her tree trunks thicker, using two pieces of bias for each tree, as the pattern shows. Here are Pam's 4 Little Houses in the City:

After adding the tree trunks, it's time to add the tree tops. You can make a template from freezer paper or Templar, a heat-resistant template plastic, to make it easy to turn under the lower edge of the tree tops:

Press freezer paper to back of tree top

Use a pencil to draw the turn line at the lower edge

Trim the lower edge about 3/8" beyond the pencil line, turn and press the seam allowance under

Remove the freezer paper template--the tree top is ready to stitch in place with a straight or decorative stitch

I cut away some of the right side tree top before adding the left side:

 The pattern says to cut away the Background under the treetops to reduce bulk. I don't think I did that on mine but you certainly could:

Once the four Little Houses in the City are made, you can join them to 4 Tall Buildings. The Little Houses go at North, East, South and West. Tall Buildings 1, 2, 3, 4 LEFT go on the RIGHT of the Little House because Tall Buildings LEFT means they are LEFT of the corner SKYSCRAPERS.  

Remember, you are making another complete circle of this last outer ring so you can sew your Upper Road circle edge to the lower edge of the Tall Buildings/Little Houses/Skyscrapers:

My sample, finished

Just a NOTE: I gave the design area dimensions for Little Houses in the City last July for those who want to design their own houses. Find it here:  Design Area Little Houses in the City

Next month will be here before we know it and BOTH Months 11 and 12 will be released November 1. This is a special gift to those who joined last November when Color My World was first announced. We assured you all 12 patterns would be made available to you so you did not have to renew your membership just to get the final month's pattern. 

But I really want you to renew. The 2022 Block of the Month quilt is beautiful and sure to be another winner. It's still a secret, but I expect you will finally get to see it in early November. Here is just one of the posts I have written about all the value you get as a Star Member of The Quilt Show: What The Quilt Show offers


The licensing agreement with the designer gives her back the rights to  her pattern as of January 1, 2022 so The Quilt Show is not able to provide these patterns to you after December 31, 2021. Print out the patterns, save them to a thumb drive or a hard drive, but beware, those things sometimes fail, hard drives crash, life happens, and if you lose the patterns after December 31, 2021 you will have to BUY them from the designer, for somewhat more than what your Star Membership costs. 

And if you haven't started yet, and think you might "someday", be sure to save/print all the patterns now so you have them when you are ready.

Let's quilt,