Wednesday, June 30, 2021


 It's time for Tall Building #2, Left Side and Right Side. This month we make four of each. 

Pam E's Tall Buildings LS and RS

Just like last month, they resemble each other but they are NOT THE SAME. Tall Building #2 Left side has 6 windows. Tall Building #2 Right Side has 5 windows. The doors are also different heights.

Again, I recommend doing all four of one side first before cutting out the four other sides. They are so similar it would be very easy to get the pieces confused.

This month there are only two pattern pieces for each Tall Building #2--the lower part and the upper part:

Follow the numbering order for which seam to sew in which order: 1, 2, 3, etc. The Add-A-Quarter ruler will come in very handy, as you trim each seam to prepare to attach the next fabric.

Remember to share your work on the Forum for all to admire. If you share on other social media, be sure to use  #colormyworld2021bom so all the photos there will be easy to find. 

I think you will find these 8 Tall Buildings easy and fast to assemble. Enjoy!

Let's quilt.


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Family Time

 The rare, non-quilty post. Just lots of family time this week.

My niece came to visit for two nights from Washington, DC. Two years ago she graduated from Harvard, and a few weeks ago she got her Master's Degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University:

To celebrate, she is off on a 7-week road trip, mostly by herself. She plans to visit as many National Parks as she can. Her itinerary is really something, about 7500 miles or so:

Shenandoah National Park--VA

New River Gorge National Park--WV

Huntsville, AL--two nights with us

Little Rock, AR

Oklahoma City, OK

Albuquerque, NM

Grand Canyon, AZ

Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Los Angeles, CA

San Francisco, CA

Redwood National Park, CA

Portland, OR

Spokane, WA

Glacier National Park, MT

Yellowstone National Park, WY

Custer/Rapid City, SD--Mount Rushmore

Chicago, IL

Niagara Falls, NY


New Hampshire

We will enjoy photos from her various stops. 

While Devon was here, our two sons were able to join us--they hadn't seen her since Andy's wedding, 9 years ago:

Joshua, Devon, Andrew

She met our two grandkids, Stella and Sam:


Uncle Josh brought an early birthday present for Sam, who will soon turn 3:

The grands stayed with us for two nights because their Daddy was having foot surgery and had to be at the Surgery Center at 5:30 am. He has been a skateboarder since age 4 and at 40 some of those ankle injuries are needing attention. Turns out his beloved wife, Lauren, just found out she also  has a minor fracture in her foot, so they BOTH have boots:

The kids enjoy staying here for a couple nights. We took them to the farm, about an hour away, where my husband's siblings live. His sister and her daughter from South Mississippi had come to visit so we were able to spend a little time with them. His other sister took the kids on a tour, in search of the cows, which they did find, in the pond and shady tree grove to avoid the heat:

Stella and her cousin, Perrin

So, not much sewing for me this week but it's great to have the kids  here. They are funny, and smart, champion eaters, and sleep well all night--they just wake up so early! We love to see them come and then we love to see them go--back home to Mommy and Daddy where they can take care of their parents as they are healing.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Guild Meetings Resume

 My local guild, the Heritage Quilters of Huntsville, have handled the pandemic as most guilds  have. Some meetings by ZOOM, some in person with limited attendance, based on the requirements of the meeting space. 

I recently attended my first in-person meeting since February 2020. 

Selfie with Elida and Denise--so happy to see our people again

I take terrible selfies--Kari got in on this one

Gifts ready for giveaway--and get your nametag ticket here

Comfy quilts, the guild charity project, is receiving lots of donations

Fewer chairs, more spread apart, still good to be with our Tribe again

I was dismayed that the program, given by a member, was about the Underground Railroad and the MYTH of the "quilt code". The speaker did say this might be "folklore" and some don't believe it, but she presented it as it "might" be true. 

Quilt historians continue to fight the perpetuation of this complete and utter myth, but still it lives on. 

Recently, Barbara Brackman, one of the most esteemed quilt historians ever, debunked this myth with facts and logic. Many of the blocks supposedly in the quilts said to have to been used to "guide" escaping slaves, were not even published until many years after 1865. The oddest one is the Sailboat--first published in 1931 and often seen in children's quilts. 

This myth first appeared in a book published in 1998 which told of one African-American family's history, quoting relatives no longer alive. There  has been no written history from "contemporary" sources, meaning people who were alive during the time of the Underground Railroad, that substantiates this story. 

FACT: The Underground Railroad did exist and there is much  historical information about how it operated. Information gathered from those who lived it. No one who studies Abolitionist history, Civil War history or the history of slavery in this country has ever found documented information that quilts were used as "codes". 

It makes a good story. Quilters love to think our beloved quilt patterns were used in this way. It makes us feel good. But it's just NOT TRUE. 

Quilt Historians can't prove it, though they have really tried. African-American Historians can't prove it, though they have tried. The errors in the myth, blocks that didn't exist until much later, for example, can't seem to persuade quilters this is a myth. 

If this myth was true, there would be some factual information available from historians and true researchers of this history, well before 1998. And if only ONE family knew about this "code", how could it have helped hundreds escape? 

I consider this myth part of the "internet generation problem"--if you read it online, it must be true. Sadly, that's not true for lots of things you read online. 

As a quilter, it saddens me to see this myth presented as truth for others to believe and pass along.  Nice story, not true. 

One historian was asked how she responded whenever someone wanted to be sure she "knew" the story of quilts used as codes on the Underground Railroad. First, she assured the person this is myth, not truth. And then she said it was also disrespectful to those who did escape the brutality of slavery, as if they needed quilts to tell them to go north, or avoid traveling in the day time, or any of the other odd things the quilts supposedly told them. 

Google is your friend. There are many articles about this topic. I encourage you to do your own research. Take such myths with a grain of salt and don't believe everything you hear or read.

Now, let's quilt.


Sunday, June 20, 2021


When I proposed a Special Exhibit of my life's work for International Quilt Festival in Houston, called My Joyful Journey, there were a few things that didn't cross my mind.

Like, how does one send 20 quilts to Houston, TX, safely and securely? I have shipped two quilts to various shows, two quilts = two boxes. But 20???

Here is the official Announcement from Quilts. Inc:

Joyful Jourey
pieced by Barbara Black
quilted by Pam Dranfeldt

A look back (and ahead) at the life and work of quiltmaker Barbara Black.

She began in 1985 

with simple baby quilts from pre-cut fabric, and today
creates challenging quilts filled with small pieces and complex design. 
This journey shows her progression from new quiltmaker to quilt artist. 
Precision piecing and beautiful color and design are the hallmarks 

of Barbara’s passionate quilt journey.

A few months ago it was time to really think about just how getting my quilts there would happen. My husband insisted the easiest plan would be for us to drive them there. Not my idea of a good time, two days in the SUV, the first day long, so the second day could put us at the Quilts Inc. office by mid-morning. Then a few more days on the road as we visit family along the Gulf coast.

But compared to the cost and worry of shipping all those quilts, he might be right. He kept asking, "what is the Volume of all those quilts?" He is an engineer... I said I wouldn't know until I gathered them from around the house into one place. 

Here is what the Volume looked like. The spare bed is covered with piles of quilts:

The engineer went to work, researching box sizes and determining how many boxes would fit in the SUV or the pickup truck. Then he tried to buy the boxes online. He found a ten-pack of big boxes at a reasonable price BUT the shipping was over $100--for empty boxes! 

This is starting to get complicated... He did find the local FedEx store had THREE of those boxes on hand. He bought those and the logistical plan began. The boxes are 24" x 24" x 18". Three of those will fit in my SUV, with room for two small pieces of luggage. 

Let the folding begin:

Three boxes, 20 quilts, lots of plastic for the inside of the boxes, and lots of padding and additional plastic bags to protect the best of these quilts. It worked--they all fit in three boxes:

After the first two boxes were packed I came up with the brilliant idea that my spreadsheet should list which quilts were in which box. The boxes weren't sealed yet, that will be done right before we leave. So we took the quilts out so I could indicate which quilt was in each box. Done, all set.

There are two more quilts included in the Special Exhibit that I no longer own:

Red and White--By the Numbers
in the Corporate Collection of Quilts Inc.

in a private collection

These will be delivered by the owners for inclusion in the Special Exhibit. I love both of those quilts and am very glad they will be included as they tell part of my "Joyful Journey" as a quiltmaker.

Several of my friends have let me know they will be attending Houston this year, some of those for the first time. That makes me so  happy. It's not too late to make your plans. Find hotel information here: Hotel Discounts

The Faculty was just announced this week--check out this esteemed list of amazing teachers: Faculty and their Classes. A lot of safety precautions will be in place, lots of space for each student, for example. There is no better place to find so many first-class teachers you can learn from. Classes begin Monday October 25.

Preview night for students is Wednesday October 27--students get an extra two hours to shop and see the quilts before Preview night opens to the public. The show itself  is Thursday-Sunday October 28-31, 2021. Can you see it all in ONE day? Absolutely not. Two days? Also, no. Plan for at least 3 days and wear your most comfortable shoes--it's a BIG place. 

I hope to see you there. I will be there for both Market and Festival, as usual, and will get down to the show floor as time permits. 

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

International Doll Quilt Swap

 Last year I participated in an International Doll Quilt Swap organized by an Instagram "friend", @needlethimbleandthread.

I enjoyed the swap so I jumped in again when the 2021 swap was announced. Only those from the preceding get first chance to sign up for this  year. If spaces remain, a couple more are added--that is how I got in last year. 

This is the fifth and final doll quilt swap with Needle Thimble and Thread. This swap is kept small and run very well. There are 26 swappers. All must have an active Instagram feed. Their Instagram feed must include photos of their hand quilting. The project is kept small--14" minimum, 20" maximum. All projects must be made from 1800's-type reproduction fabrics. And the doll quilt must be hand-quilted.

In addition, there are mandatory deadlines:

A progress photo of the top must be posted by June 18.

A progress photo of the quilting must be posted by July 6.

If you don't meet those deadlines, you are removed from the swap.

The mailing date is no later than August 16 and you must be willing to mail internationally.

Last week I made my top and basted it:

Basted Top, 16" x 20"

This week I started the hand quilting:

Lucky spacing on pre-cut triangles

Close to half way done the quilting

The binding and sleeve and label are prepared, ready to go.

Organizing these kinds of projects takes a lot of effort. The rules are established based on "areas of concern" from prior years. You might think everyone will play by the rules but you would be surprised.  I am willing to do this swap because I know "bad" surprises are highly unlikely with this group.

Follow #ntatdqs2021 on Instagram to see all the amazing doll quilts as they are being made. After August 16, the finished quilts will be revealed by the recipients as they make their way around the world.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Round One Done

 Recently, I wrote about the Round Robin swap the Sunday Sew and Sews are doing. Eight of us created center blocks, 12"-16", to swap with 3 others over the next several months. See that post here: A Feathered Star

My first project to work on belongs to Donna D. She made a 15"  Feathered Star block, using the wonderful pattern from Sue Garman, Washington Medallion. The pattern is available for purchase, at Sue's online shop: Washington Medallion. It is a Block of the  Month pattern--you can choose to buy all 12 patterns or each one individually. Month 1 is the Feathered Star pattern. Month 2 sets it on point and adds the HST border and floater border.

Here is what I did with Donna's Feathered Star:

First, I set it on point, creating a 21.5" center, including seam allowance. Then I made 56 Half Square Triangles (HST), using 7 different prints and 5 different backgrounds, two of the backgrounds were used twice. The pattern shows how to do that easily, using paper. I simply used a mechanical pencil to draw the sewing line on the back side of the light fabrics. Very easy to see and sew as a pair, creating 8 HSTs from each pair of fabrics. 

After the HST were sewn into border strips, it is time to figure out the size of the "floater borders" that make everything fit together perfectly. 

Learning how to calculate Floater Borders changed everything for me as a quiltmaker. It is the BEST thing I learned from Sue, but certainly NOT the only thing. 

In a perfect world, our piecing would fit precisely. In reality, or at least in MY world, the more seams in a border, the more chance for the border to grow or shrink and not be a perfect fit.


1. Pieced HST borders, including seam allow. 24.75"  (these should have been 24.5"--mine grew)

2. Center Block, including seam allowance     21.5"

3. Difference between 1 and 2                          3.25"

4. Divide 3 in half                                             1.625"  FINISHED WIDTH of the  Floater

5. Add 1/2" seam allowance to 4                      2.125"  WIDTH to CUT the Floaters

For the Left and Right Floaters, cut 2.125" x 21.5".  Sew to the left and right sides of the center.

For the Top and Bottom Floaters, cut 2.125" x 24.75". Sew to the top and bottom of the center, AFTER sewing on the Left and Right Floaters and pressing them toward the Floater. 

Now, add the Left and Right HST Borders to the quilt. Press toward the Floater,

Add the Top and Bottom HST Borders to the quilt. Press toward the Floater.

The quilt top is now 24.75" square, ready for whatever comes next. 

NOTE: the fabric I used for the Floater was a fat quarter, not long enough to cut 24.75". I could have pieced it to be long enough, but decided to add Cornerstones to the Top and Bottom borders instead. Those squares were cut 2.125" and added to the left and right ends of the Top and Bottom Floater borders.

If you want MORE of this information, I have an even more detailed Tutorial on the process. Find it here: The Magic of Floater Borders

Here is Donna's center block, as I received it:

I hope she likes what I've done with it.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

A Feathered Star

 The Sunday Sew and Sews have started a little Round Robin this week. I wrote about how to organize such a project earlier this year: Round Robin

In between my Secret Sewing, I am working on the block that belongs to Donna. She made a Feathered Star from the pattern Washington Medallion, by Sue Garman. See my version in purple and turquoise in the Photo Banner above. 

I have just begun to add a couple borders. First, I set it on point:

More to come in the next few days. There are a lot of half square triangles to be made.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, June 6, 2021

What Am I Doing?

 I can't tell you. Well, it's more accurate to say I can't SHOW you.

About this time of year Secret Sewing goes into high gear in my Studio. Here is a Hint: I will be in Dallas in August taping The Quilt Show...

Just a Teaser. Due to shipping delays, common in every industry at the moment, I am using my own fabric to test the pattern. Here are bits of tiny scraps--that's all I can show.    


I love to use a wide variety of fabrics in my quilts, because I can never run  out. Short on a deep purple? Select another that is similar. Instead of using a large amount of one background fabric, I use many, from white to tan. 

This year I have some awesome helpers, my Sunday Sew and Sews gang, who are helping get a lot of work done. While they are sewing, I am reviewing all the pattern instructions, which takes a  lot of time. I  have to do that myself, in the quiet of my Studio.  

In addition, I am writing "Optional Alternative Instructions" for those who want to try different techniques. So far, I have 11 pages prepared and ready. A few of the Sunday Sew and Sews will carefully review those for me. Despite best efforts, typos sometimes happen.

Writing patterns/instructions is harder than you might think. The designer knows what they mean but may not provide enough detail so the quiltmaker understands clearly what is meant. 

I also know that our Quilt Show members who make the annual Block of the Month quilt, really like specific instructions. For example, "Press". Immediately the question will be "Which way--to the dark, light  or open?" While it may not matter, sometimes it does, farther down the  line. I try to anticipate those questions.  

When techniques are new to a lot of people. like using Freezer paper for Color My World, the 2021 BOM, I try to provide detailed instructions and often make videos that show the process. I already have two videos done that won't air until October 2022 for the next project.

If you want to see more of my fabric pull, look back at the first Teaser post I made: Fabric Pull and the need to pre-wash. I will write much more about pre-washing in the future.

When not working on this I am creating a second "Charming Sampler" quilt. I will be teaching this locally in October and in Rhode Island in  August. Since I need a sample for both places, I have to get a second one made quickly. Here is the second in progress, small blocks, 3" finished:

And the complete project:

It's a fun class that teaches a variety of speedy tricks, which all can be applied to larger blocks in the future. 

Things are picking back up. I bought two airline tickets this week and booked a hotel at a location I am driving to.

And, I found all 20 of the quilts in my possession that need to be shipped soon to Houston. Two are on the walls of my home, four are stored in a closet. Of the 14 others, three need better labels. Two more quilts will be delivered to Houston by the owners--one is a friend who owns SIZZLE--HOT! and the other is in the Corporate Collection of Quilts Inc--Red and White--By the Numbers. Read more about that quilt here: Red and White--the Wrap Up. This is the blog post I tell people to read if they want to know who I am as a quiltmaker.

That's it for now. More to come way in the future on the "secret sewing" project.

Let's quilt.