Sunday, September 5, 2021

Traveling Experiences

I used to fly somewhere at least once a month, to teach quilting at shows and guilds. The last 18 months that has mostly stopped. Recently, I flew to Dallas to tape The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. Here are my thoughts on that trip.

One of the differences this year is how many times Delta has changed my flight schedules on the four trips I have scheduled this Summer/Fall. Sometimes, big changes--like my 7:30 am departure moving to 5:20 am. Sometimes, the changes are only  a few minutes different. All airlines are doing this, even Southwest, so I just have to roll with the punches.  If they make a big change you don't like,  you can call them (expect a 3 hour wait on Hold) and can move to a different flight, even a different day, without a fee--if you call them to make the change. 

This flight was a 7 am departure from Huntsville, a 30 minute drive from my home. I got up at 4:15, we left the house just after 5 am and I was all set at the gate just before 6. Boarding at 6:20. On time departure.

I always have a photo of my checked luggage on my phone in case it gets lost so I can show it to the Baggage assistance people if needed. No problems this trip, my bags made the trip with me. Having the Delta app on my phone means I get a notification as each bag is loaded on each flight, so I knew they were on my plane each flight. That is reassuring.


Masks are mandatory at all places in the airports and on the flights, worn correctly, covering the mouth and nose, as frequent reminders are played over the PA. "If you forget, we will gently remind you". And they did, with those who "forgot". 

TSA screening at Huntsville: "Remove all electronics larger than a cell phone from your carryon". And shoes and jackets, too, unless you are lucky enough to the TSA Pre-check on your boarding pass--I didn't this trip. In Dallas, on the return flights, two days later: "Do not remove any electronics from your carryon". Different equipment, different rules.

All four of my flights were full or very close to full. And all were on time, departures and arrivals. The employees were professional and the passengers all behaved themselves, well, mostly. 

Many food vendors in the airports are closed, even in Atlanta and Dallas. Labor shortages are probably the reason since passenger counts have greatly increased. Long lines for those who wanted Chick-fil-A or 5 Guys--I come prepared so no problem for me. 

Once in Dallas I used LYFT to get to the hotel--I am still a little skittish about getting in a stranger's car. They have a very helpful safety feature I use--I text my ride to my husband who can watch the ride in real time--and he knows the vehicle and driver who picked me up. It was only 15 minutes to the hotel. After unpacking my clothes, I used LYFT again to go to the Studio, about 2 miles away, to deliver my quilts. They decorate the set the night before for the next day's taping, since we hope to start taping about 9 am. 

This yellow and white quilt was made by Alex Anderson. We have a garden party theme and it filled that space nicely:

This is one of my early quilts, made with a group of 6 quilters at a retreat in 1994. It has not been out of the storage closet for 20+ years. Beautifully  hand-appliqued and hand quilted (by a woman who used to do a lot of hand quilting for me). As my best quilts are all currently in Houston for My Joyful Journey Special Exhibit, this one got to come out and shine. It is queen-size and it was used on my bed until I made something less precious to replace it:

Again, I had to scrounge for set decoration pieces--these small wallhangings are from the mid-1990's also, workshop pieces that taught me a lot, both completely  hand made:

Hidden behind the blue curtain--the 2022 Block of the Month Quilt designed exclusively for The Quilt Show by... I can't tell you, and I can't show you:

A big hint is the designer lives in a country from which she currently cannot travel. So I am the fill-in. The Quilt Show folks call me "the BOM Whisperer". I test the pattern--my sample quilt is on-set too but I can't show it yet either. I update/enhance the written instructions. I figure out "Optional Alternative Techniques" where appropriate--there is always more than one way to do anything--so I offer a variety of techniques when appropriate. 

Throughout the year, I write monthly blog posts to supplement the instructions, do a video most months, and a Facebook LIVE broadcast. We really provide a tremendous amount of  extra help and information for our Star Members who choose to make the Block of the Month quilt--the pattern is FREE to them as an added benefit of membership. 

The only problem for me on set is the heat from all the lights. Here the cameraman is behind me as we practice the sewing demo part--I was mortified to see how wet my hair is. The AC was turned down, I mopped up, and we started the taping: 

A bit of fun as Justin does the "cold open"--remember, it's a garden party: 

It takes hours of preparation to make one hour of show go smoothly. I had about 5 hours of phone interview time with the  producer, beginning in June. I write a "script", what I want to convey in the 10 minutes/segment allotted and then practice, practice, practice, to get it all in within that time frame. I  edit, edit, edit, and remember, this quilt is the Star of the Show. 

I thought it went well, and Alex and Ricky did too, after each of the 5 segments we did. But when the amazing producer, Shelly Heesacker, who I adore, came to me after we were done and said simply:  "This exceeded my expectations" I knew we had a winner. Producers have high expectations. She is a top-notch professional who knows how to do her job. I was so happy she was  happy. 

Here we are just before I left the Studio:

A wonderful added bonus was time I got to spend with friends I hadn't seen in a while. Dinner at an authentic Tex-Mex style, non-chain restaurant was great and the visit was a personal highlight of this trip.

All too soon, it was time to pack the luggage and head back to DFW, for the first flight to ATL, and then finally on to HSV. No issues at all on both days of travel make me a happy camper.

Home sweet home. My husband was waiting for me, we grabbed my luggage and went out for a nice dinner:

All in all,  this was a fantastic trip I thoroughly enjoyed. I am eager to show the quilt--in October sometime will come the big REVEAL.  And the show will air in early January, 2022, FREE for all to watch all year. I'll be sure to remind you.

Let's quilt.



  1. AWESOME description! I felt like I was there with you every step of the way and I CANNOT WAIT for the reveal in January 2022!! Keep up the great work Barb!!

  2. I am glad your trip went well both on the ground and in the studio.

  3. Thank you for the post..interesting xo

  4. I enjoyed your travel experience and your behind the scenes look at all that goes into what you do with The Quilt Show.
    Your idea of having a photo of your luggage is great. I could have used that last month when they couldn't find my luggage at Chicago O'Hare and I went two nights without it!

  5. Glad your travels were safe and successful. Looking forward to the 2022 quilt!