Wednesday, September 28, 2022


This post is coming out a few days early so you can be ready to work on the Diamond Borders when the pattern is released, usually the first of the month.

Irene Blanck, the designer of the 2022 Block of the Month quilt for The Quilt Show, describes this border as representing a picket fence around your beautiful garden. 

The first decision you will make is if you will applique the diamonds onto a long background OR if you will piece the diamonds with equilateral triangles.  Irene appliqued hers, I pieced mine.

A segment of my pieced border:

To help you make the decision, there are TWO VIDEOS, one describing Irene's technique and one describing mine. Star Members of The Quilt Show have FREE access to the Videos and all the patterns until December 31, 2022. Membership alone is a great deal; having amazing, exclusive Block of the Month patterns is like the best icing on the cake.

Some important things to consider:

1. If using the Kit fabrics, be aware the stripe provided for the border must be cut into eight 6" wide x WOF cuts, then pieced together to create the length needed.

2. The Length Needed will depend on the size of your quilt center. In a perfect world it should be 62.5". Mine grew to 63". I went with that. If I had been appliquéing the borders I would need length AT LEAST 63". And since applique tends to "shrink up" the background, I would cut mine 64"--you can always trim off a little on each end AFTER the diamonds are in place. 

3. If you want to PIECE THE BORDERS, I strongly recommend you select a fabric that is non-directional.  The gray/white stripe in the Kit is beautiful but the stripes will not line up easily if the borders are pieced. One yard will do it BUT get two yards so you can add a Floater Border if necessary and an outer border should you choose. 

Here are two good options, the top is what I used in my Sample Quilt and the bottom would be a good choice if you want a little darker background: 

4. Irene's applique method uses 20 diamonds on each side. They are 3" wide so those 20 fill 60" of space. As the borders are at least 62" finished, you will want to leave a very small space between them OR leave an inch on either end. The VIDEO I made explains this in detail.

5. My pieced method uses 21 diamonds on each side and a Floater Border to make the pieced border fit the quilt center. There are 5 detailed pages of  OPTIONAL ALTERNATIVE instructions, with photos of each step, included in the Month 10 pattern section. 

6. If  you applique the Diamond borders, you will determine if you want to trim them to 5.75" tall, so the points exactly touch the center of the quilt, OR if you want to leave them 6" tall. I would leave them rather than trim 1/8" off both sides. The points will be "close enough" to the quilt center for me. It's your quilt, you get to decide. This is discussed in the VIDEO.

7. If you piece the Diamond borders, they should be 5.75" tall when done. Piecing them requires careful attention to the 3 things we can do wrong in piecing: the CUTTING, the SEWING, and/or the PRESSING. The instructions address all of these steps. The VIDEO will be very helpful. 

For those of you who are not Star Members of The Quilt Show here are some photos of my borders in progress last year. These are here to TEMPT you into joining us and taking advantage of ALL you can learn from our Shows and Block of the Month patterns:

Pieced Segments 

I machine baste the critical center join 

I pressed seams open

Picking Diamond fabrics was the fun part

As the borders were finished so I could select fabrics for the next border

How I kept the selected fabrics in order prior to sewing

How to cut the Equilateral Triangles

A Perfect 60 degree equilateral triangle

The two outer diamonds with Half Triangles ready to sew, then they will be trimmed to 1/4" beyond the point. Each will also get ONE triangle on the outer edges.

Friday September 30, 2022, I will do the monthly FACEBOOK LIVE for MONTH 10. It is early this month so we can discuss these things in advance. They are available FREE to everyone and are always available after they air on Facebook AND The Quilt Show's YouTube channel. 

In Month 11 we get the final TWO SKINNY VASES and make the LEFT SIDE DIAMOND BORDER. Here's a tip: the LEFT SIDE is exactly the same as the RIGHT SIDE.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, September 25, 2022

GPDU -- MONTH 10 The Two Skinny Vases

I am providing the Month 10 information a bit early this month. Before we can start making the Diamond Borders, we need to make the two "Skinny Vases"  so the right side of the quilt can be assembled.

This month we make TWO vases, what I call the "Skinny Vases". Each block is 14" tall x 6" wide finished, so are trimmed to 14.5" x 6.5", and then they are sewn together to make a block 14" tall x 12" wide finished.

My latest blocks, not sewn together:

My blocks from the Sample quilt made last year, thanks to Donna D:

Irene's blocks from her quilt:

These feature wonderfully shaped vases, small circles, bias stems both 1/8" and 1/4" and flowers and leaves.

They sew up quickly and I think they are great vase blocks. Star Members of The Quilt Show have access to the Month 10 Video I made showing some tips for making these vases.

Once the Skinny Vase blocks are joined together, the right side of the quilt is assembled with blocks previously made. Then we can measure the quilt to check what size the Diamond Borders will be. 

There is a second blog post on making the borders and there are TWO VIDEOS ON BORDERS--these provide very important information you need to read BEFORE cutting the Diamond Border fabrics. Find them under Month 10 in the 2022 Block of the Month section. The videos and patterns are available FREE to Star Members. 

It is not too late to start making your own Garden Party Down Under--the patterns remain available FREE for members of  The Quilt Show. until December 31, 2022. The Block of the Month patterns are included FREE with membership, a great deal. 

I use Karen K Buckley's Perfect Stems to make the 1/8" stems. For the 1/4" stems I cut bias fabric 3/4" wide and press in thirds, no sewing, no fuss, just press in thirds.  All my circles are made with Karen K Buckley's Perfect Circles. 

All the shapes are prepared with patterns cut from Print & Piece Fuse Lite, printed out then fused to the wrong side of the fabric. This reverses the design but I am fine with that. 

As you get your Skinny Vases done, post a photo on the Forum--there is a Topic specifically for Month 10 -- Show Your Progress Here.  FORUM for Garden Party Down Under

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Student Progress on Garden Party Down Under

 There is something special about a year-long class, a two-hour lecture/demo class. All sewing is done at home.  Each woman is working on the same project, at her own pace. Each quilt is so different. Everyone understands all the effort each  block takes. They may have started as strangers but the leave the year as friends. Some have made time to get together to sew outside of class too. I love that!

Here is the progress being made by the students making Garden Party Down Under, the Block of the Month quilt designed by Irene Blanck exclusively for Star Members of The Quilt Show.

Mary-Louise is using men's silk ties for her shapes. Each fabric has to be stabilized with lightweight fusible. The dark backgrounds add so much depth! They are fabulous blocks:

M-L gave up on the tiny Dresdens--that silk did not want to play nicely. Instead, she is designing critters from her garden for the center of each pieced block:

Cyndi is using her beautiful stash to make wonderful blocks: 

Victoria had an epiphany when she got the hang of paper piecing the Dogtooth borders. Her husband may not have been overly impressed, but we sure were. When you get something you have struggled to "get", it's a beautiful thing: 

Claudia is enjoying the process--love her fabrics: 

Julie often wears clothing that match her block--I wonder if that's intentional?

Evelyn has missed a few classes but she is keeping up. This is a bright and happy quilt. She got a new sewing machine and is playing with many of the built-in stitches for her machine applique:

Phyllis has found the best applique technique for her--back-basting. Leila is doing this method and explained it in an early class. Phyllis tried it and was  hooked. Here is a block ready to stitch--the stems are machine appliqued because it's so easy. The green leaves on the right are hand appliqued in place. Everything else is back-basted and ready to go, making this a very portable project: 

Sally has ventured into wool applique with lots of embroidery stitches. She finds it slow but rewarding:

We had one other student in this class this time, but Fanny wouldn't let me take her photo--she had only brought her beautiful tiny Dresdens--her fabrics are wonderful. Next class I'll get to show more of her work.

Our time together is winding down. Most will not be making the 2023 Block of the Month quilt, they all feel the need to get a few of these previous quilts done in 2023. Although I will miss our time together, I will see most of them in other classes and places. 

They may all have started as strangers but they leave the year as friends. Some have made time to get together to sew outside of class too. I love that! Isn't that what the quilting community is all about?

Let's quilt,


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Playing With Sticks

 Improv is NOT my middle name. I am known for traditional quilts. In the late 90's I had an "artsy period" where I made a few not-so-traditional quilts, but, for the most part I am comfortable with traditional design.

Alex Anderson is currently providing guidance and encouragement for those who want to try Improv and don't know where to begin. Find all of her LIVE classes on either Facebook--The Quilt Show with Alex and Ricky page OR saved and available any time on The Quilt Show's You Tube Channel--find that here:

The Quilt Show's You Tube Channel.

Here are two improvisational quilts Alex has made:

I like to try new things and Alex's classes have been an easy, gentle way to do that. She is very encouraging and people all around the world have played along. So far, I jumped on the Neutral bandwagon and made a self-portrait:
Where is my Earring?

Disappearing Patchwork

The Improv class has started with blocks Alex calls "sticks". They are super easy to make and fun to try. Here is my initial experience making Sticks:

Alex's best advice when trying something totally new: Don't use your best, most precious fabric. Use scraps to learn the technique so you can decide how you want to proceed with your good stuff. These are prints, not solids, and all the fabrics came out of my 4" and 5" scraps shoeboxes. Nothing in these boxes is too precious to use:

These "classes" are FREE for all--she started doing Facebook LIVE when the pandemic hit and she missed being with her "quilting tribe".  Take a look to see if she has something that sparks your interest.

All of Alex's Classes can also be found on The Quilt Show, in Alex's Classroom, under LEARN. You do not have to be a Star Member of The Quilt Show to access these classes. But why wouldn't you be? I learn so much from the shows and love the Block of the Month quilts.

Let's quilt. And try something new.


Wednesday, September 14, 2022


 While I am away teaching in South Alabama, it is time to remind my local friends of the classes I am offering at home this Fall. 

These won't be offered again locally for several years, if ever, so I encourage you to take any of them now if you are interested. Local classes allow you to sleep in your own bed and experience what students all over the country get from my in-person classes. And cost a lot less than if you take them from me at a big show.

For Beginners:

Start Quilting--Soup to Nuts Southern Charm Quilting

Quiltmaking 101  Patches & Stitches   this is the last time I will teach this class at night--all new class coming in January

For those who love their fabric:

Two-For-One  Southern Charm Quilting this is a "Doritos quilt"--many people can't stop at one

For those who love to piece AND learn a great trick for Y-seams:

Antique Rose Star  Patches & Stitches  one of my most favorite quilts to make AND teach

For those who want an easy quilt that looks more complex:

Blueberry Hill  Southern Charm Quilting  This is the ONLY time this class will ever be taught

Sign up today so you don't miss out. I look forward to seeing you in class.

Let's quilt.


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Headed to Mobile

 I will soon head south to Mobile, AL to present a Lecture and Workshop for the Azalea City Quilt Guild.

Tuesday September 13, 2022 the Lecture is the ever-popular "Time Management for Quilters", 10 am, Regency Church of Christ. Full of ideas and suggestions for making the most of the time we have to be our creative selves:

On Wednesday we will spend the day making a Charming Sampler, using Charm packs we buy and love but don't know what to do with:

Sample 1 approx. 34" 

Sample 2 approx.34"

The Guild was happy to report this class filled almost immediately and asked if we could add more students. Of course. So we will be a full house at 25 students. 

Making small blocks, these are 3", is a good way to improve piecing skills and play with colors. Students who take this Workshop report learning so much more than they expected to, tips that will improve all their piecing going forward.

Mobile is as far away from my home as possible and still be in Alabama, it will take all day to get there. But there will be wonderful seafood dinners and I really look forward to that. And making new friends with this guild.

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

A New Quilt Coming

 After working with neutrals for Disappearing Patchwork , I am craving Color.

Here is a teaser for what is up next:

Stay tuned…

Let’s quilt.


Sunday, September 4, 2022

Why I Teach

Having recently returned from a great quilt teaching trip, I have been thinking about why I do this. Travel away from home, spend time with strangers, stay in hotels where sleep is not often the best, and spend hours over many days preparing for that kind of trip.

There are unexpected good surprises, like the call from the hotel front desk that a package had been delivered for me. I loved this guild already and hadn't met them yet:

And more expected things--happy, successful students showing off their work.  Women of the West Alabama Quilt Guild, Tuscaloosa, AL, with their morning efforts making Western Sun. In the afternoon they worked on Flying Geese sashing, learning a variety of methods. Don't they look happy?

How about the next day? More women, and some returning, made lots of 3" blocks as they learned secrets to great piecing with Charming Sampler:

More photos from the two workshops. The students were enthusiastic, friendly, eager to learn, and satisfied with the class--except this Yankee still talks too fast sometimes:

Charming Sampler blocks--Becky B

Charming Sampler blocks--Paula

Rose, workshop coordinator, as she introduced me as the "world renowned Barbara Black"--what a  hoot!
Our temporary Design Wall

All you Guild folks--take note of the 3 x 5 cards taped on the table in front of each person's spot--Rose made these name cards so I would know everyone's name--this is brilliant! I like to call people by name and nametags on chests are often too small to see. She added 4 small pieces of fabric to each to use as "leaders/enders", a bonus nice touch:


I love Show and Tell. Before Western Sun began, Paula B showed me her Wild and Goosey, finished just the night before. She wasn't sure what she was doing in Western Sun, which has LOTS more flying geese sashing, but she was there. Wild and Goosey is a Bonnie Hunter pattern available in her book Addicted to Scraps: 

Finally. at the end of the second day this happened: 
They presented me with a guild t-shirt, making me an honorary member

In 2014, I retired from H&R Block, turned 60, had my Red and White quilt  featured as the Commemorative Quilt for the 40th anniversary of International Quilt Festival, had 3 quilts juried into AQS Paducah, and 3 quilts featured in the book 500 Traditional Quilts. The experience in Houston was beyond words but I tried to sum up what that meant to me with this post: Red and White--the Wrap Up. If you only read one of my past blogs, I encourage you to read this one.

As I came home from Houston I thought about what the rest of my life would look like. I wrote:

 I did not expect that this experience would make me even more certain I will spend the rest of my days making the best quilts I can and teaching as many others as I can to quilt.  There is so much inspiration at Festival and I am eager to piece and quilt to my heart's content!  Baby quilts are next up!

Our first grandchild was on the way, oh, joy! And I would now have time to travel and teach quilters who wanted to learn the things I have learned over the many years I have been a quiltmaker.

Travel is hard, yes, even more so today. But quilters I don't know are not "strangers", they are friends I haven't met yet. 

My goal for every class is that EACH student, regardless of skill level, will leave class thinking "I learned more than I thought I would". And they have to have FUN, that's important too.

And occasionally I get a wonderful reminder from a student that I seem to be accomplishing my goal. 

The day after my visit to the West Alabama Quilt Guild, I received this email:

We were so thrilled to have you. It was even better than we anticipated! I learned many things I had never even heard of and feel confident to venture out to try more complex blocks! Many in that Saturday class have been in awe of the more adept quilters and I’m sure they, too, will be inspired to quilt more. After that crisscross block, we are invincible!

Rest assured, we will be asking you to come again!

While I have taught quilting locally for almost 35 years, I  have been "on the circuit" for about 10. I will do this a few more years so if your guild or shop wants to have fun while learning how to improve your  skills, contact me and we can make that happen. 

Let's quilt,