Sunday, October 31, 2021


 Finally, we start to make the Skyscrapers for Color My World. Even if you are not making this quilt, seeing how to create your own Skyscraper can be helpful for a future project.

Earlier this year I provided the "design area" for the four Skyscrapers, for those who want to create their own building. Some ideas are windmills, lighthouses, the Washington Monument, churches, the Saturn 5 rocket here in Huntsville, AL. Find that post here: Skyscraper Design Area

I taped all of the pattern pieces together for each Skyscraper to find the size. They are not exactly the same size. As hand-drawn patterns, they varied about 1/8" from each other. Just make them the size of each pattern and it will be fine:

I found it VERY HELPFUL to number the pages as I printed them. There are two buildings again and you don't want to get the patterns mixed up.

For each of the Skyscrapers, I recommend you first READ THE INSTRUCTIONS carefully. These are not fast designs to make. Take your time and enjoy the construction process. SOME of the pattern pieces are JOINED together BEFORE starting to sew. Be sure you understand which do that.


As the pattern tester, I first follow the patterns as written. When my Big Ben was finished and I was in the final assembly process, I saw that my Big Ben had a problem:

My Big Ben

Remember my Sub-title for this quilt? My Big Ben is simply "NOT TO CODE". I had no more of the brick red nor the peach fabrics so making another one in those colors was not an option. I was also "FINISHED" and did not want to have to make another OR applique background fabric on top of the red "arms". I just decided my Big Ben has scaffolding and let it go at that. In hindsight, I should have compared each section to the original photo but didn't.

 Of course, the designer was able to fix the pattern so yours looks like it should.

The clock face can be anything you like. Wendy used a circular design from the Art History 101 background fabric. You can DRAW a CLOCK FACE with a permanent pen on fabric of your choice. Here are some other options. 

Leading up to the year 2000 there were several lines of fabric that showcased TIME/CLOCKS. The black/white circle on the left was from a fabric I used for a garment some years ago:

In the monthly class I teach locally, there was discussion on how to make the body of Big Ben as one long piece, instead of in sections. Start by taping a copy of the pattern together so you know what size it is. Cut a long strip of the peach fabric the size needed.  Applique a strip of the brick fabric for each of the four cross-pieces. Applique a long strip of brick red down the center, then add two long  pieces of brick to either side of the center. Then it is a matter of making a template for the two background wedges to complete the lower part of Big Ben. I am not providing any more detailed instruction than that. If you can "see" how this will work, you can try it. If it doesn't make sense, just follow the pattern as written. 


This one took me a little time. The first thing I had to do was figure out the fabric colors for the building. For mine, 1 = Light Blue, 2 = Blue Gray and 3 = Dark Teal. Color 2 is used in both the Center and both Outer sections. 

My One World

The building section patterns have to be JOINED before sewing begins. Glue works better than tape as you will be pressing with a hot iron while constructing each section.

This is what the 3 sections look like BEFORE you start to sew:

Wendy has excellent instructions for making this building, READ them before you begin. Remember to follow the Seam Numbers for where to start--SEAM 1 is first, then SEAM 2, etc. Start at the WIDE end of each of the 3 sections, working toward the NARROW end.

Wendy has also provided excellent photos showing how to attach the two joined spire sections to the lower part of the building. Follow step-by-step and go slowly.

These Skyscrapers take a while to make so the NEXT BLOG, posting November 3, 2021, will feature Month12--Eiffel Tower and Centrepoint Tower. I doubt anyone will be ready to start those yet but at least you'll have the instructions.

BIG REMINDER: these patterns are only available FREE to Star Members of The Quilt Show until December 31, 2021. After that you will have to purchase the pattern from the designer at significant cost. Print and/or Save the pattern so you will have access when you are ready. The Quilt Show will not be able to provide you any patterns you are missing.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Houston Quilt Festival Part 1

 After not having Festival last year, I was thrilled to be back this year. 

Easy flights, both landing early, a good LYFT driver, and a wonderful welcome from everyone I encounter at the Hilton Americas hotel makes this the highlight of my year.

The view from my room:

My cozy bed:
On the airplane:

Food shots, always good to eat well when I can. Once the work starts it’s Protein bars and instant oatmeal most of the time:

Hotel oatmeal, not instant 

The first of a couple meals at Pappadeaux, a favorite

Salad bar lunch from Phoenicia

NOTE: the salad bar at Phoenicia just reopened last week and Pappadeaux reopened for business last week. So glad for both of those. The Executive Lounge in the Hilton remains closed.

Love seeing the Harvest Moon from my room when it’s close to full:

There is often public art on display in downtown Houston. This year there are painted sugar skulls to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos. Here are just a few photos:

When this posts Festival hasn’t opened yet. Part 2 will have photos from the show.

Let’s quilt.


Sunday, October 24, 2021

A Few More Favorites

Above my computer, I have these four small quilts on the wall:

The upper left was made for me, by Judee Koda, 2012, in a Doll Quilt Monthly swap I was in that year. I love the simplicity of it, the turned edges with French knots for embellishment. Simple, decorative machine quilting adds just the right touch. It is 18" x 24".

The small log cabin at the top right I made with silk from Sari ribbon bundles bought in Houston in 2012.   It's 13" x 13". I need to make more  of these. Here are the bundles of silk, I have many:

The small landscape quilt on the lower left I made in 1992 after taking a class with Dottie Moore. It would be fun to make another of these, so many years later. It is 14" x 12".

The largest one, on the lower right, was made for me by Margaret Rosenbrook in 2012, again from the Doll Quilt Monthly swap I was in that year. I love the simplicity of this one, too, gentle curves of fabrics, simple curving straight line quilting. I had intended to make one like it but haven't yet.  It is 20" x 23". 

You never know what you will get in a quilt swap with strangers. Even when the "rules" are well-defined, there are sometimes surprises. These two quilts from that year-long swap were totally worth the effort of the 12 quilts I made and shipped off that year. And they are the only ones from that year I kept. The rest were sold or given away.

Once I get home from Houston, I am going to post a bunch of quilts to sell, most small like these, but a few bed-size ones as well. Nothing wrong with my supply chain!

Let's quilt.


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.