Fancy Work Applique

Each month I receive an email with the next pattern in the block of the month quilt I’m stitching with Lori Triplett and her sister Kay Triplett. Lori is using pre-fused, laser cut appliques and adding touches of hand painting to her blocks. Kay is using needle turn applique with freezer paper on top. And I’m using back basting applique with my Waddington Road Primitives fabrics.

A favorite recent block was a gorgeous cutwork pattern that the sisters call Fancy Work. I studied the pattern and decided there was enough space between elements that I could successfully back baste it using one piece of tan fabric. I started by tracing the full pattern to the wrong side of the fabric. Next I placed a single piece of fabric on the front stacked with both fabrics right side up. I like to complete the basting step by machine so I dropped my feed dogs and from the back I basted on all the drawn lines.

Basted on wrong side

For this tutorial I intentionally used black thread in the bobbin – so you would be able to see the basting on the front. That was a good thing because then I was also able to see it!!

Front side of the basted design

At this point I paused for a reality check. Did I really want to work with those tiny seam allowances? Reviewing the image of the original quilt I noted that this block is repeated three times and each version looks a little different than the other two blocks. I took that as my sign and decided it really didn’t matter how close to the original my block turned out. I set to work and trimmed the entire block.Some appliquers prefer to cut as they stitch but I like to get all the excess fabric out of the way so I can see exactly where I need to needle turn.

The stitching went fine as long as I didn’t try to rush. I just turned a bit and stitched a bit until the entire design was appliqued. I stitched the circles last so I could shape them to fit the open space between the other motifs. At one point I felt disappointed that they had become so much smaller than the original drawing and considered cutting new, larger circles and covering them. But if I had done that I wouldn’t be able to say it was cut from one piece of cloth, and besides, I had already coached myself that it didn’t really matter.

Finished 8″ x 8″ block

The reverse applique was the scary part. All the rest of the stitching was already completed when I took my small sharp scissors and cut a slit. I almost couldn’t breathe. It was a month’s worth of applique work resting on the tips of those scissors. But cut I did! Over the next four evenings I completed one reverse applique slit per night. Slow and steady – each stitch was carefully placed.

I marvel to think how the original quiltmaker got such narrow reverse applique slits in her work, but I’ve decided to concede the small seam allowance prize to her. If you are making this quilt too and are feeling challenged by the small seam allowances relax a little and resist the urge to compare to the original. I like my finished block just fine and I’ll like the other two versions even better because they aren’t quite as fancy!

Here are my first nine completed blocks. I think my Fancy Work block looks nice with the group.

The first nine blocks of the Triplett Sisters BOM

To see the original quilt and learn more about this BOM click here.


Applique Pressing Tip

Have you ever had problems pressing your completed applique blocks? I’ve been sewing along with the Triplett sisters on their current block of the month. We are making 8″ blocks with a lot of applique detail. Since they are smallish blocks it’s sometimes challenging to press the block without leaving iron shine on the appliques.

In this first photo the applique is completed. As you can see it’s been crumpled and stuffed in my sewing bag and needs a good pressing.

Birds and Daises

I like to press with a hot iron and steam. Here the block has been pressed but I’m not satisfied with the bubbles that remain in between the appliques. If I were to press again with more emphasis on those areas I might end up with iron shine on some of the thicker pieces, especially the bird’s beak.Here’s my trick: Spread a terry cloth towel on the ironing surface. Place the completed block right side down on the towel. Press using a hot iron and steam. You don’t have to press the living daylights out of it. Just pressing across it once is usually all it takes.Here’s my finished block after pressing it on the towel. Really, I promise you, I only pressed it once on the towel!

Bird and Daisies Block

When I was a teenager my aunt taught me to press my completed embroidered blocks with this same method so it’s nothing new! Try it the next time you have an applique block that needs a little extra attention.



I have a new website!

It’s official, I have a new website! Here’s the thing, I’d rather sew than work on the computer so I decided it was time to move to a web service and let other people troubleshoot problems for me. The web address is still barbsfavorites.com so if you’ve bookmarked me in the past your bookmark should still work. My blog is now accessible through the “blog” tab (it used to be the homepage) so you may want to update your bookmark for it because it’s slightly different in the new system.

I have exciting things planned for the website including MORE free to download patterns, a web only Block of the Month (coming soon!), a newsletter, and additions to the online store. That’s right, I now have an online store!

So take a few minutes and check out the new and improved Barb’s Favorites. Click here to go to the website then scroll down to find the box to subscribe to my newsletter.

I’ll catch up with you later, I’ve got sewing to do!


Day 3 of Ruby’s Block Hop!

It’s day 3 of the block hop and today we welcome Theresa Ward. Hop on over to her blog at Always Quilts and check out the tutorial and two examples of her block made with, Ruby’s Treasures fabrics!

As I was designing the fabric collection I dug into my own treasure trove of 30s prints. I have scrap bags, quilts, and unfinished blocks as well as a toy dog made by my grandmother. I studied all of these old textiles looking for charming prints that I thought I’d like to include.

One of the prints in the collection was reproduced from fabrics found in a pair of antique Sunbonnet Sue blocks. The blocks were given to me by my 96 year old friend Marguerite who told me they were made by her older sister Emily. I had already decided on the color palette (see my post for Day 2) and was delighted that the colors in the original fabrics were already included in the palette. img_7865

We reproduced both the violet/green sprigs and the pink/blue sprigs. Aren’t they sweet?


1-color2I wanted to include these two prints since they came from the gifted Sunbonnet blocks but also because I had queried a few of my friends who love vintage 30s prints. They told me they thought the 30s prints that were available were lacking in prints with light backgrounds.

The other light background print in the collection is this happy little dot. dots-pink-and-green

dots-viloet-and-yelThe original print came from a stuffed patchwork dog made by my grandmother.

Patchwork dog made by my grandmother Mary Martin

Patchwork dog made by my grandmother.

I had to take the fabric swatch off his nose in order to have it reproduced! img_9112-2

Theresa used both of these light prints effectively in her blocks. The blog hop/block hop continues for the rest of this week so check back – I’ll continue sharing about designing Ruby’s Treasures.

And hop around collecting block tutorials. Leave a comment at each stop to enter to win great prizes and ask for Vintage 30s Ruby’s Treasures at your favorite quilt store!

Here’s the rest of the schedule:

Friday 11/4: Barb Eikmeier @Barb’s Favorites

Monday 11/7: Donna Lynn Thomas @DonnaLynnThomasQuilter

Tuesday 11/8:Theresa Ward @AlwaysQuilts

Wednesday 11/9: Pat Speth @NickelQuilts

Thursday 11/10: Reeze Hanson @MorningGloryDesigns

Friday 11/11: Kelly Ashton @KellyQuilter

And our blog host Inspired by Fabric


Day 2 of Ruby’s Block Hop

Thanks for stopping in! It’s Day 2 of Ruby’s Block Hop! If you haven’t already been there hop over to Donna Lynn Thomas’ blog and see the beautiful blocks she made for the block hop! Click here to get to her blog and detailed tutorial.

If you missed the first block (posted by yours truly!) you can see it here.

I thought this Block Hop would be a good time to write about designing the Vintage 30s Ruby’s Treasures fabric collection.

I was working with Merrily McKim Tuohey, Ruby’s granddaughter, to write magazine articles to help spread the word about Ruby’s 100th anniversary. One day she opened the family archives and let me peek into Ruby’s scrapbooks. Among the treasures was an original applique kit for a vase filled with flowers. The fabrics were all solids.

Some weeks later, when I began designing the Vintage 30s Ruby’s Treasures fabric, I started with those solids from that little kit. Paintbrush Studio had just introduced their scrumptious Painter’s Palette line of solid fabrics so I compared their color swatch card to the solids from the vintage kit and selected these 9 colors. They became the palette for the reproduction collection. I love how the bolts rearranged themselves in the back of my car on the way home!


Check back tomorrow for more about Ruby, her treasures, and the fabric collection she inspired! And check out Merrily’s website McKim Studio Revival for more about Ruby and her patterns.

Here is the schedule for the rest of the blog hop.  Leave a comment on each blog to be entered to win great prizes.

Friday 11/4: Barb Eikmeier @Barb’s Favorites

Monday 11/7: Donna Lynn Thomas @DonnaLynnThomasQuilter

Tuesday 11/8: Theresa Ward @AlwaysQuilts

Wednesday 11/9: Pat Speth @NickelQuilts

Thursday 11/10: Reeze Hanson @MorningGloryDesigns

Friday 11/11: Kelly Ashton @KellyQuilter

And to visit our host, Inspired by Fabric blog, click here.


Poppies for Day Two

It’s day two of a five day challenge showing a different quilt each day. Yikes! The day is almost gone. So quick, before the sun sets, here is my quilt of the day.

“Poppies” is an original design – hand appliqued by me and machine quilted by Denise Mariano. Yesterday I forgot that I’m supposed to nominate someone else – today I nominate Reese Hansen.Poppies


15 in ’15 – the Final Results

Did I really say that back in January 2015? Did I say I was going try to finish 15 UFOs in 2015? What was I thinking?

Now it’s 2016 and since I threw out the challenge, so to speak, and some of you not only took it on for yourself but you even got your whole quilt guild to do it I thought I owed you a tally of my own progress on 15 in ’15.

First of all what do I consider an UFO?
1. It must have already been started prior to Jan 1, 2015 to make the list. That means no projects that I have bought a pattern and fabric for but have yet to start. No kits that I collected a month at a time but have yet to cut into. It has to already have had something done to it – cut out, strips cut, a few blocks made, etc.

2. What do I consider completed? I get into trouble in this category because I have a habit of thinking that once the top is done the project is completed.  However, for my 15 in 15 challenge I was clear with myself that finished meant finished. Quilted. Binding stitched on. Binding turned and finished. Label on the back. Finished. All the way.

Drum roll, please! Here are my 2015 completed UFOs.
1. “Grandma’s Garden in Pastels” – perfect to start the list because it took me 15 years to finish it!Pastel applique
2. “Earth” was a completed top on Jan 1. I got it quilted early in the year. I got it’s binding on in Oct. Dang those bindings drag me down!Earth
3. “Disappearing Nine-Patch in Indigo and Shirting.” On Jan 1st it was a pile of blocks. I finished this one in time to give it to a friend before her first chemo treatment. I’m glad it’s finished but not glad for the reason it got finished in an emergency. disappearing ninepatch for Doris
4. “Picnic Baskets” pattern by Jan Patek. The picture is dated Jan 6, 2015 making this project officially the first finish of the year. I made the top while on retreat with my guild in Nov 2014 so it might also officially have resided on the UFO list for the shortest length of time. See? It can happen!006
5. “Red and Tan Baskets and Stars”, pattern by Whimsy. I love this quilt. I worked on it during at least three retreats that I can remember and finally put it on my Pennsylvania Tues quilt group’s UFO challenge list. That motivated me to get it done – otherwise there would have been a penalty to pay of one fat quarter.Red and Tan baskets
6. “60 degree Kalidoescope”. Many of the UFOs in my pile were started as samples when I was teaching the Marti and Me Club at Quilting Bits and Pieces in Eudora, KS, this one included. It’s not very dramatic but it’s done!kalidoscope
7. “Brights and White” from The Quilting Bee in Cache, Ok. I got this back from the quilter the first week of Dec 2014. I sewed the binding on it a year later, just in time to include on my 15 in ’15 list!Brights and White
8. “Emma’s Quilt” Ages ago I started making quilts for my nieces and nephews when they graduate from high school. When the great nieces and nephews started coming along I saw that there would be no end to the graduation quilt program so I changed to baby quilts for the new generation. Dear sweet great-niece Emma was 1 ½ years old before her quilt was delivered. This picture was taken the day she got her quilt.Emma and quilt
There you have it! All the UFOs I completed for 15 in ‘15.

Are you saying, “Wait a second, that isn’t 15 – it’s only 8?” Well, yeah, it is only 8. Drat it anyway. And look at how many of them only needed sewing the binding on. My challenge should have been “Just Bind It!”

It’s only 8 but it’s 8 more than zero which is how many it might have been if I hadn’t given myself the challenge in the first place!
So, if you didn’t get 15 UFOs done in 2015, don’t beat yourself up, pat yourself on the back for what you did get accomplished.

What are we going to do for 2016? I don’t know about you but I’ll be making a shorter list!
Next time I’ll share my challenge for 2016! See you then!


New Subscribe Button

After a series of problems I am breaking up with my subscribe button. I thought he was cute. Clean-cut with a polished, simple style.  And he was easy for me to understand. But he wasn’t supported by his designer, so all his beautiful features started falling apart. Irritation set in, and we began fighting. I wanted him to do things he wouldn’t do, or couldn’t do – like send notifications of new posts to my subscribers. I gave him a second chance. He got the times wrong, he skipped subscribers – for no good reason, and he sent duplicates to others. Was he playing favorites, or was he trying to get me to break up? My frustration built to a crescendo and I finally took him down. I slid him over to the unused widgets area of my website where he stayed in timeout while I cooled off.

Today, I went looking for someone new. I am optimistic about this new relationship but wanted to warn you that the new guy looks and acts different the other. In the long run, this should be a good thing!

If you were a follower when I was with the other guy and would like to once again receive e-mail notifications, please re-enter your e-mail address and click on the subscribe box.


Design Wall Monday – Flying Geese

Today I’m headed out to a quilting retreat – I’ll be joining the Eudora Quilt Guild as a day camper. They always go on retreat over the President’s Day weekend and they invite me to come and sew with them. So my design wall is empty but my basket is packed with flying geese.

Flying Geese Blocks

Flying Geese Blocks

The flying geese are a friendship trade I’m in the middle of with a group of 8 quilting buddies. Every month or so we swap little packets with four completed flying geese blocks.

Flying geese friendship trade

Flying geese friendship trade

Ours are stitched in 30s prints and we are all using the Marti Michell flying geese ruler so they are coming out very accurate.

Marti Michell's Flying Geese Ruler with today's fabrics - packed and ready to go

Marti Michell’s Flying Geese Ruler with today’s fabrics – packed and ready to go

I’m connecting mine into long rows each time I get a set.

One row completed- 80" long

One row completed- 80″ long

Huge flocks of Canada Geese winter in the rice fields near my parent’s home in CA. At dusk the fly over the farm in great V’s.

Flying Geese - the real deal

Flying Geese – the real deal

Honk. Honk.

“Fly” on over to The Patchwork Times and see what others are working on by clicking here.


Subscribe To This Blog!

Some of you have been asking, “How do I subscribe to your blog?” Today, I bring you my shiny new “subscribe” button.  Enter your e-mail address and click “subscribe”.  You’ll get an e-mail message asking you to confirm, so go to your inbox and follow the instructions in the message.  Done. From this day forward every time I post a new story to my blog you will get an e-mail notification. If you ever get tired of getting the e-mails there is an unsubscribe option that will appear with each message.

That was easy.