Wednesday, November 30, 2022


Many people have gotten their Garden Party Down Under top finished and are starting to think about the quilting process. See some of these tops on the Forum topic: Show Your Completed Top Here, you do not have to be a Star Member to see quilts on the Forum.

Here is mine, made in 2021 with the help of 8 of the beloved Sunday Sew and Sews. This photo was taken on the set while taping The Quilt Show in August 2021:

I quilted it on my Bernina Q20 sit down long arm machine. Here are some detail shots:

The Back--a busy print hides a lot of things better left hidden, and thread changes if there are any:

Resting on the spare bed after all the quilting was done:

A variety of thread colors and weights. The majority of the quilting was done with Superior's Microquilter in white on the top, and Bottom Line in the bobbin. Accent colors were used on the vases and larger motifs: 

I love ruler work so I often develop continuous designs using rulers that move nicely across the quilt. Using a circle I was able to move from one end of the diamond borders to the other, then go back in the opposite direction, creating a flowing curving design that complements the diamonds: 

See the same design used on the Dogtooth borders around the center:

Here is my basic process when quilting:

1. Good basting is imperative. I use safety pins and most often baste on my dining room table. I tape the back firmly to the table, wrong side up, using painter's tape at the top and bottom. Clamps are used to hold the edges securely to the left and right sides of the table. The batting is laid on top of the back, followed by the top, right side up--it helps to have another set of hands to spread out the batting and top. After pinning the middle, I untape/unclamp the quilt, and slide it to one side, retape/reclamp then pin that side. Repeat for the opposite side. After all the pinning, check to be sure you have no puckers/pleats basted into the back--they have to be fixed. I tend to get them near the corners. 

2. Make a small test "sandwich" with the same back and batting and some of the top fabrics so you can test the thread color and tension before you begin. I write a note for tension setting for each thread so I can get it correct each time I work on the quilt. This project took almost two weeks to quilt, a few hours a day.

2. I used Microquilter thread in the top and Bottom Line in the bobbin, white in both, for the majority of the quilting. The first step is to quilt straight lines from top to bottom, starting at the middle of the quilt. I pretty much follow the seam lines the same way the top was constructed. This serves to stabilize the quilt, allowing some of the safety pins to be removed. My favorite ruler for straight quilting is the Line Tamer by Four Paws Quilting, a great ruler. 

3. After all the straight line quilting was done in all directions, I thought about how to quilt each block. I If the background fabric had a good design, I followed that--like swirls or straight lines. If I needed to create a design, I played with a piece of plexiglass and a dry eraser marker to "audition" designs directly on the quilt--be sure to wrap the edges in painters tape so you don't overshoot the edge of plexiglass with the pen--a disaster you don't need. Designs can be tried out, erased and more designs tried again and again until you like what you see: 

4. Very little quilting was required on the motifs since most are small. The vases are large and need some quilting to secure them. I played with the plexiglass, drawing curvy shapes on the vases to try to give the vase some "round" dimension. While quilting the background of each block, I got close to the appliques, echoing them to help them stand out.

5. The borders were perfect for using a circle template (ruler) to create curving designs that move from one end of the borders to the others. 

6. The two small "floater" borders were the perfect place for some circles. I freehand quilted them: 

I  have written about my quilting process several times before:

Ruler Work -- the Basics   this is a long post and has LOTS of information.

UPDATE--on the December 2, 2022 LIVE broadcast I was asked about the corner flowers and my label. Here is the corner flower, with simple echo quilting on the background and around the shapes:

I make permanent labels for all my quilts. Find my TUTORIAL for LABELS HERE  My label:

This is one of my most favorite quilts. I love the fabrics. I love the design. l am happy with the quilting. And I LOVE the friends who helped me make the top:

You can find some photos of the quilting on Irene Blanck's quilt in our Gallery of Quilts: Monthly Guide . These photos were used for the Monthly patterns. Irene's quilt was quilted by Australian Longarm quilter Rebecca Rae. Find her on Instagram as @astitchnline_machinequilting.

Remember. the patterns for GARDEN PARTY DOWN UNDER are only FREE FOR STAR MEMBERS until December 31, 2022. After this year, the designer regains the rights to the patterns and you will have to buy them from her.

If you join The Quilt Show now, you can still download/save all 12 months of Garden Party Down Under and be ready to jump right in to the 2023 Block of the Month quilt, Homeward Bound, beginning January 1, 2023: 

Let's quilt.


Sunday, November 27, 2022


I am collecting orphan blocks from quilters for a special project. You know, those blocks that didn't work like you expected. Or samples that convinced you not to make an entire quilt. Or leftover parts.

Here are some of mine as well as donated blocks and parts:

Some are complete blocks, some are leftover parts, anything goes.

If you want to send something on, send me an email for my address if you don't have it.

It will be fun to see what happens to these castoffs,

Let's quilt.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Garden Party Down Under Class Efforts

 A group of great students worked on Garden Party Down Under during 2022 as part of a year-long class. We met 6 times, every other month for a Lecture/Demo class at Sweet Home Quilting and Supplies. All sewing is done at home. I provide tips and tricks for the current and upcoming month's patterns. We enjoy "show and tell" and  best of all, many of the students have become friends.

Here you can admire their efforts.

Mary-Louise is making her GPDU from men's ties on a black background. She didn't bring it to our final class as she is deep into making baby clothes for her first grandchild. Her daughter has named her   "Mistress of the Wardrobe" so she started playing with fat quarters to see what she could make: 

One of the flower motifs from GPDU:

Cyndi has a great eye for fabric, color and design--I would love to play with her scraps. 

Cyndi designed her own corner blocks, using an idea from one of the skinny vases: 

Cyndi pieced the Diamond borders and they are ready to go: 

Sally is making this quilt so much her own. Lots of wool and hand embroidery, along with regular applique. I admire her work so much:

Fanny is using a beautiful, soft pastel color palette, so different from some of the others. It is such a lovely quilt: 

Victoria has used this project to help her through some life obstacles. She tends to second guess her ability. Each class we are able to assure her she is making a great quilt and has made it her own by adding birds and other personal motifs: 

Claudia is using the Kit as well as some of her own favorite fabrics. Her work is meticulous and coming along beautifully:  

Julie has a great sense of color--I love everything about this block: 

Remember, it is not too late to make your own Garden Party Down Under--or even to just acquire the patterns for FREE. All 12 of the monthly patterns are available to Star Members of The Quilt Show through December 31, 2022. After that the rights to the patterns return to the designer, Irene Blanck, and you will have to buy them from her. 

I enjoy teaching these Lecture/Demo classes locally. There may be one set up for the 2023 Block of the Month quilt for The Quilt Show if there is enough interest. Local folks, please let me know by December 1 if you want to participate. You must be a Star Member of The Quilt Show to get the patterns for HOMEWARD BOUND, designed by Sarah Fielke exclusively for The Quilt Show::

Here is mine in progress, I used a different background so I could start in September: 

Let's quilt.


Sunday, November 20, 2022

Cranberry Chutney is Almost Ready

 This is a favorite week for me, Thanksgiving is around the corner. This year we will have both our sons, their women, and our wonderful two grandchildren around our table. My heart is full. 

As I do every year, I share this recipe here because I am often asked for it. And usually I hear from those who tried it for the first time who say "This is now a family standard". 

My favorite recipe, one I HAVE to make any time there is turkey or ham on the menu is Cranberry Chutney.  I grew up with Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce from the can, the kind that has those can lines on the sides when you open both ends of the can and push the roll of sauce onto a plate. About 45 years ago I followed a Cooking Light Turkey dinner complete menu, making all the dishes shown, and THIS is the one recipe that has stuck around:

Barbara Black       

1 bag fresh cranberries, 12-16 oz                    1 cup water
1 cup sugar, can be less                                   1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar, can be less                     1 cup apple, chopped
1/2 cup raisins                                                  1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 t cinnamon                                                    1/2 -1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 t ginger
1/2 t cloves
1/4 t allspice

Simmer cranberries, sugars, raisins, spices, and 1 cup water uncovered in 2 quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, until juice is released from berries, about 15 minutes.  Reduce heat; stir in remaining ingredients.  Simmer uncovered until thick, about 15 minutes.  Refrigerate covered or freeze.  Batch can be doubled--use large saucepan.    

NOTE:  I always double this--DO NOT DOUBLE THE SUGARS. Keep extra in the freezer.  This will last from Thanksgiving until Christmas.  I buy fresh cranberries in early November and freeze them for later use. 

Over the years, I've made a few changes, the best being to reduce the amount of sugar.  I doubled the recipe and FORGOT to double the sugar, and it was BETTER!  About 5 years ago I added chopped pecans and that was a huge hit at my house, kind of makes it more "Southern".  The kitchen smells amazing while this is cooking, puts you in the mood for holiday food.  People who don't like cranberry sauce like this, and I am always asked for the recipe--now I can direct folks here.  You can save it to your Pinterest Boards too.

For those of you traveling this week, I wish you traveling mercies. For those who will see loved ones after a time of absence, enjoy this time. For those who have lost someone  or who will be alone, I wish you peace. 

After this week, let's quilt.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

International Quilt Festival Houston -- 2022

 I have been home a week and am just about rested from two weeks in Houston, TX for International Quilt Market and Quilt Festival.

Market is a trade show only open to those with credentials: shop owners, designers, and others in the quilting business. It runs before Festival, which is the largest quilt show in the world, open to the public.

Here are a variety of photos from my two weeks there.

The view from my room at the Marriott Marquis

My favorite restaurant in Houston

Shrimp Diablo--my selection on my first trip there
Enchiladas del Mar, my go-to and what I had on my second visit

The Market Team in our newest garment

Faculty ship their class supplies weeks in advance. The first day of set-up for me involves accepting all the freight, logging it in, and seeing that each box is placed where it can be found by the teacher. BEFORE: 

AFTER--one of two rooms: 

Saturday of Market was the day selected to celebrate the 85th birthday of  Kaffe Fassett. There was a special booth with some of his quilts and many people stopped by to wish him well with his "85 and Fab" collection. We each wore garments that day we made with Kaffe fabric. By far the best garment was made and worn by our Education Team member Cassie Weider, from Boulder, CO. Here she is showing off her wonderful outfit for Kaffe:

During Festival I took a class with Becky Scellato on Sashiko--slow stitching, very enjoyable:

The days are long when working a show and meals are not always healthy or quick. Phoenicia is a market a few blocks from the convention center that I get to often. The salad bar is great--this is two day's lunches for me:

On one of my walks I snapped this photo in the park, good advice:

I didn't go on the show floor very much and bought very little. Here are a few photos of quilts:

Photos just cannot do the Best of Show justice. From any distance, you might not be impressed. But, up close, my, oh, my!

I always enjoy seeing a Block of the Month quilt from The Quilt Show on exhibit. This one is made by a Facebook friend who has just moved from Los Angeles to Huntsville, AL. It took a few attempts to connect, but she finally came into the Education Office while I was there so we could meet in person. Sally Wright is an art quilter and is eager to meet others with similar interests. Locals, you should meet Sally: 

Sally customized the corner skyscrapers with buildings that mean a lot to her from her life in Los Angeles. Her quilt is beautifully made: 

Other quilts I get inspired by are either antique quilts or reproductions of antique quilts. The Special Exhibit from France featured quilts inspired by antiques. Here is a real favorite:

The rest of the Education Team arrived for Festival. Each day we wear garments we have made with fabric we are given, to help identify us as "staff" on the third floor.  We get a photo each morning after our 6:55 AM daily meeting: 

It was 24 years ago I first started working for Judy Murrah in the Education Office. Sadly, Judy passed away in 2017 and I still miss her and her wonderful way of making everyone feel special. Faculty, staff, students, everyone she talked to got her full attention. It takes a lot of work and people to run a successful show and I was always so happy to be part of that success. Judy was a mentor and friend, and I knew she respected me as a professional quiltmaker and teacher. She often told me so.

It's now time to move on to another phase of my professional life. On our last day I told everyone I would not be back as part of the Education team next year. My plan is to return in a different role. Time will tell if that happens. Stay tuned. I will be at Houston, for sure. My hotel is already booked. There are so many people I just have to see each year. There is nowhere else to be for quilters in the Fall. 

Let's quilt.