Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I've been collecting some fabric. I still can't get sewing tomatoes out of my mind (posted March 1) so instead of dying eggs tomorrow....I'm going to make some tomatoes. I will take some pictures to show you too.

I'm also ripping out recipes from all my cooking magazines. I'm only saving the ones I know I want to cook. The magazines have taken over and I'm getting rid of them. Whew!!!! Now instead of a 5' stack of magazines, I will have a 6" stack of papers. (Maybe someone has a great way to sort and store these?)

Since my mother-in-law is visiting, I'm trying out 4 new recipes on her. She is the perfect taste tester. We are talking and tasting everything as I cook. (We will probably be full before dinner.)

I'm also thinking about hooking a small rug. I found this small pattern and it looks about the right size for an enjoyable weekend. I love hooking....but just haven't taken the time.

Barb and I are getting ready to hit the road. We will be teaching at Stitchville's Spring Fling. We have several projects in the works and are looking forward to spending some time with those of you in Minnesota. I will be showing the project on the blog during this next week. It's at the framers now....there will be a needle box too. Plus other fun extra items...will show all soon. Click on the shop's name for retreat information.

Stitchville’s Spring Fling
A Weekend Retreat with Blackbird Designs
April 23 – 24 – 25, 2010
Oak Ridge Conference Center, Chaska MN

Wishing you all much family fun during Easter and Passover.


Monday, March 29, 2010

What to do?

I almost don't know what to do with myself! After finishing a large project, I'm usually at a loss. While writing, I'm consumed ....every minute is spent trying to get it done and to the printer. I've turned in our new quilt book, Country Inn, to Brian Grubb, our book designer for this project. Now I have lots of free time and he's busy.

I'm looking through all of my cooking magazines....thinking hmmmmm....maybe I should cook something new. I'm playing a bit of music on my piano.....maybe I should learn a new song. I'm looking at my fabric thinking this would be a great time to start a new project....but nothing seems to capture my attention.

Usually this period of wandering around doesn't last too long. I know I will be able to focus on something soon.....I just don't know what it will be.

I've been taking some time to clean the studio hoping that might make me want to get back to work. But no luck there.....I guess I'm on vacation for now.

Somebody light a fire under me please!

Until later,


Sunday, March 21, 2010


Here are the winners of the Threads of Time 2011 engagement calendar by Blackbird Designs.

#155 - Glenda said...

I can always use help getting organized, so your calender might just do the trick. Love your designs and working on the bluebird pin keep now.

March 19, 2010 9:38 PM

#193 -Karen said...

love the calendar and all the pics ... and its the style calendar i love to use every year .. count me in please .. thanks for sharing the ruffle binding ... makes for a great look ... will have to give it a go on a small piece :)

March 20, 2010 2:45 AM

#275 - Heather said...

Hi, thank you so much for the giveaway. The diary looks as beautiful as your designs. Thank you for entering me. Cheers, Heather

March 20, 2010 12:37 PM

#310 -Connie said...

Thank you for posting the tutorial on the ruffle binding. I can't wait to do the quilt and ruffle!
Please enter my in the drawing! Thanks again.

March 20, 2010 7:41 PM

#266 - Carrie ~ Cricketwood Prims said...

Thanks for sharing your ruffle technique, visual demonstrations are so helpful to me.
I would love have one of your calendars, your vintage sewing items are wonderful.
I can appreciate how lifes changes are a surprise, in a good way.

March 20, 2010 11:45 AM

And an extra one for being the first to respond.....because do you think the random number generator ever picks #1?

#1 - Beckyjean said...

I love the ruffle binding. I may even attempt to do this one day. I would love to be entered to win one of those calendars. Will it make me more organized? Probably not. LOL


March 19, 2010 4:22 PM

So congratulations to the six winners. Please e-mail me with your address:

We had about 8-9" of snow yesterday. Welcome spring! No yard work for me today.

The above picture is the urn on my front porch....looks like a cupcake!

My poor cement rabbit out in the garden can't find a green thing to eat!

The birds are all snowed in.... Dave is worrying about all the robins. They are looking cold and hungry.

I might just sit back on the sofa and finish my book and wait for spring. I started this a couple of days ago. Connie Willis has won numerous Hugo and Nebula awards and this is her latest. It involves time travel. Several historians have returned to WWII and seem to be locked into the past. They are visiting London during the Blitz. I can hardly put it down. Willis has created characters you care of those books I can inhale in about 7 hours....if I just had 7 hours to read. I will finish this in no time only problem is I have to wait until October for the second part of this book to be released.

Hope your spring is greener than mine!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Ruffle Binding and Contest

Remember this quilt from last July? Click here for the link. Scroll down to June 20th and July 1 for the pattern.

I promised to show how to put a ruffle binding on a quilt last July. So finally here are some pictures to give you an idea.

Make your quilt and quilt it. I cut strips 3 1/2" wide x the width of fabric. (The ruffles for Barb's star quilt are cut wider. I will check with her tonight and let you know the cutting measurements of her ruffle tomorrow.) Gather the ruffle and sew it to the edge of the quilt top. I gathered 45" at a time and then sewed it to the top and then gathered another 45" ....continued this technique until the ruffle was sewn in place. I did it this way to prevent tears that would be sure to come if my gathering thread broke. (If only I had one of those ruffle attachments for my sewing machine.) Gather the ruffle your favorite way. It's not my way or the highway here!

The ruffle is sewn in place. You can tell I really need something to cover up the seam allowance.

I cut strips 1 3/4" x the length of fabric for a facing. Sew the strips together to get the length needed for the quilt top. The ruffle is sandwiched between the quilt top and the facing. Sew the facing in place as shown above.

After the facing is sewn in place, fold it over to the back of the quilt top.

The ruffle will immediately pop up in place as the facing is folded to the back.

Iron the facing and ruffle. This view is the back of the quilt top.

Turn under a hem in the facing and blind stitch it down. It's really not too hard.

And really adds a sweet touch to this quilt.

Our engagement calendar is at the Kansas City Star's warehouse! I had to drive by and pick up some right away. This is for the year 2011. ( I had to tell you that because usually Barb and I run a bit late....didn't want you to think it was for 2010.)

It's set up as a weekly calendar. One picture per week. I photographed some of the sewing and needlework items in my collection. I never imagined in a million years that I would do the photography for something like this. (After doing about 15 loads of laundry per week for 20 really limits what you believe can happen in your life.) I wish I could give every one of you a calendar....but I only have 5 to give away.

Sign up in the comment section...only one entry per person...I will do the random number generator thing and announce the winner on Sunday morning. Good luck to you all!

Until later,


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Show and Tell....finally

Margaret Chess sent her "Margaret Harris" piece for us to see. (click on her name to visit her blog) She writes,

"I stitched Margaret on 30ct WDW Straw over one. Since I did the piece over one, I had to change the placement of name and date. I put my maternal grandmother's name in place of "Walnut, Iowa," and I put my maternal grandmother's birthdate in place of Margaret's name. My grandmother was the perfect grandmother to me, so to be able to put her name on this piece was special. Thanks for the idea. And thanks for such wonderful designs as always! I can't wait for your new quilt book."

Sara Hochstein writes, "First, let me tell you how much I enjoy your blog. It's a much needed bright spot after a long day at the office. I've completed the Souvenir of Paris stocking from Joyeux Noel. However, instead of finishing into a stocking (I'm not the greatest "finisher"), I stitched it over one on 25ct and mounted it in a beautiful gold frame I found at Pier 1 Imports. I'm sorry I didn't place a coin or ruler beside the picture to give an idea of the true size. The picture itself is about 2-1/2" x 3". Just adorable!"

Karen V writes, "I thought you might like to see a recent finish of mine of one of your designs, Sweet Heart from Joyeux Noel. I stitched it on 28ct Celery/White checked Graziano linen with a mixture of the recommended GAST and DMC: I dyed some white chenille braid with coffee and walnut ink stain for the edge and used a pretty floral fabric on the back. This was also my first time using freezer paper, thanks to your instructions and I was pleased with how easy it was to make the template this way. This was such a cute and fun stitch."

Kind regards,

Karen V

Catherine writes, "I hope everything is ok for you and you are not under the snow. For us, it is quite different since it is snowing constantly !!!! So in order to cheer up, I have finished and sew the pattern c'est la saison pour être joyeux !!!!"

This one is from Catherine too...."It was holiday time, here in France for two weeks, so I had and took time to stitch !!
Here is the last but not least project. I am waiting for your last book that I have ordered to add some more projects to my "To do list" The tin box comes from a shop called "Maisons du Monde" "Houses of the World", maybe you have this kind of shop next to you . I like the text: Box for ideas, what every stitcher needs!"

Pat in Bedford, Texas writes, "Alma, I thought you might like to see my Birds of A Feather quilt top. I have enjoyed making it and I have not decided about the date at the bottom as yet."

(Click on Pat's name to visit her blog....looks like she has finished the small basket quilt from When The Cold Wind Blows too.)

Fred writes, "bonjour, Hello,

merci pour la joie procurée lors de la broderie des modèles BBD.
Thanks for the good moment with "Marie Higdon" .
ici, j'ai changé les couleurs de Marie Higton, et j'ai rajouté des
perles ! I've changed colours and I sewed little pearls .

qu'en pensez-vous ? what du you think of it ?"

Debbie Wick sent in her wonderful quilt picture and she writes, "I hope this finds you getting a little rest from your very busy weekend. I want you to see my picture that I took today at the library of my Old Glory quilt. I sure wish the quilting would show up, this one has 40 plus wreaths in all the white blocks. I just love this quilt!!! I made matching pillowcases with large red ric rac on the sides. It is a very large quilt, took up most of the brick wall and is going up their staircase at the library. I am so proud of it and the message it sends. P.S. The white block in the flag has small starts printed in them."

Cindy Whitlow sent in a picture of her Souvenir of France. She writes, "Attached you will find a picture of my finish that was completed yesterday of your free gift design, Souvenir de France. It was stitched on 14 count rose stripe aida with DMC #310 Blackest Black floss. I would like to thank you for designing the chart and offering it for free. It was a nice way to pass time in the DMV waiting to do a simple address change. :)

(Cindy...they must have made you wait quite a while!!!)

Mercedes Jiménez from Madrid ( Spain ) writes, "I wanted to share with you how I have used your last freebie "Now I know my ABC". It came just in the moment I was looking for an alphabet for my sewing case. I changed the colors. I love antique needlework and lace like you. I collect them from Brocantes and Old Markets in France and Spain. I wanted to use them after getting this lovely Yuwa linen. I started with this design just some days ago. I have done a video where you can see all together. I hope you like it. I enjoy all your designs, both cross stitch and patchwork." Click on the word video to go to her youtube video.

Gigi on the left and Barb Adams on the right.

Melanie Russell writes, "I noticed the gorgeous sheet that you pictured in your blog of Gigi's Ackworth samplers, and you mentioned that she has stitched one of Blackbird designs. Attached you will find pictures I took at last year's market (2009) of you and Gigi, and her lovely BBD "sheet" as she calls them. It was backed with a print, and tied with satin ribbons, which coordinated with the designs. She transports them rolled and tied with the ribbons. The pictures are not the best, but they do show what a lovely collage she made of your designs.
I enjoy your blog, and I'm looking forward to your newest book. You were sold out this year by the time I was able to visit your room, but it is "in the mail". I help Monique Oz by being the "American connection" for Dessins DHC. Gigi stays in our room with Monique during market, and is a total delight! She is a talented lady, who shares her interests and knowledge with the stitching world.
I am copying Gigi on this email, and I hope it is okay with her to share these pictures with you. I just wish they were better of you two well as the BBD "sheet"! Maybe I need some of your photography lessons!

Pam A from NY writes, "Thank you Alma (and Barb too) for this great little sampler. I was able to stitch it in no time and it just looks great in my home.

And I have to tell you that you ladies have totally out done yourselves with the new book, "Honeysuckle Manor". I am just waiting for my copy. I guess my shop ran out, so I will have to wait another 2 weeks for a copy. Not like I don't have other things to do. LOL.
Thanks again for the freebie. I am sending you a picture of how it came out. Sorry, but I had to make a few color changes to fit in with my color scheme. All the best! (We are always glad for you to make color changes! We want the projects to fit your home and style.)

Christelle Taquet writes, "I'm French. In 2004 my husband was assigned in Montgomery, AL for one year. I often visited the quilt shop there where the shop owner was very kind. She told me that I had to go to Paducah and took me there with her.(What a treat) So it's where I bought the book Home sweet home. I've been looking at it for one year before I decided to quilt it. Meanwhile, and lucky me, my husband has been assigned for 3 more years in Norfolk,VA.
I started a blog there (the little house in Virginia) and with some virtuals friends I met on the web, we started to quilt all by hand, one house a month. Anyway, we were writting to each others and cheering and supporting one another. It's how I met "my Barb".
She finished hers last year. She did it with japanese fabrics and divided all dimensions by 2 (imagine the small applique)
I came back from the United States last year, and it's one of the first person I called: 3 hours later we were still on the phone! I went to visit her and her familly 3 weeks later, and she is coming in Paris at the end of the month.
I finished my HSH a few weeks a go (02/03 on the blog) and I did a tag behind with our 9 previous adresses. It has been really fun and full of meanings to finish it. Everybody at "What's in your stitch and stuff", and Bendy at "Dyeing to stitch" were all very nice helping me quilting (I also did the cat on the roof by hand) and cross stitch some of your patterns. I really want to thank you for all the friendships I found around Blackbird."

Thank you all for taking the time to send pictures of your work to me. Barb and I enjoy and are inspired by your work.

Until later!


Thursday, March 11, 2010


What a breakfast Dave and I have shared today! I prepared the final 3 recipes for Blackbird's Country Inn book. The featured quilt in the book is done both by Barb and me. You had a glimpse of mine on the last post. Barb's is done in soft greys and reds.

As we give the pattern for each block we are including a breakfast recipe served at the Country Inn. Today was an egg casserole, scones and broiled grapefruit.

The background of the picture above shows the "set-up" for the shot. The foreground is the pan these were cooked in....and the remains of the one I couldn't resist.

Lots of work....but fun work!

This has to be a very short post as there is still much to do to prepare for our photography on Saturday.

Tomorrow a great show and tell. I have received many wonderful pictures and it's time to share them with all of you.

Until tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Scalloped Border

Today I'm cutting a scalloped border...perfect time to share my technique with you. The quilt must be quilted before cutting the scallop....otherwise it would stretch all over the place. Not a very good look. I ask my husband to draft the circular pattern for me. I then print many copies until I have enough for one length. The pattern is drafted for the top size before quilting. This top is 88" x 88". So I'm using a 8" scallop.

Of course quilting takes up a bit of fabric. So my border measures smaller than before the quilting. Look at the bottom of the top picture. Do you see the template is longer than the quilt?

To adjust the template, I make small folds. I leave the scallop the same size and fold the paper between the scallops where it won't be noticeable.

After a couple of small folds, notice the pattern now fits the border. I tape the fold so the pattern will not move.

The scallop aligns with the edge of the quilt and is pinned in place.

This was really the scary part for me the first time I cut the scallop! But it must be done. After the first one it's easier the next time.

Remove the template and go to the next border. I really like a scalloped edge. The circular pattern of the scallops gives motion and another design element to the quilt top. This quilt top was made using our new line of fabric Garden Party from Moda fabrics. Look for the pattern in our newest book Country Inn which will be released at spring market by the Kansas City Star. Click on the Star's name for more publications.

I went outside to hang up my clothes on the line...and what did I spy? I don't even remember planting these small wonders. I see my phlox awakening under the cover of leaves. Welcome Spring! It's about time.

Even the weeds growing in between the bricks on the patio bloom with minuscule blue flowers.

Hope spring is coming your way too!

Back to work!!!!


Monday, March 8, 2010

Country Quilt

I call myself a quilter....but really I'm not. I'm a topper....I just do the piecing and appliqueing. The quilting part? Maybe I've done 5 or 6. The time frame Barb and I work with doesn't allow the time to hand or machine quilt a piece. Especially when we can find real quilters who can take a quilt and make it look better than we ever imagined. They are masters of the negative space!

But every now and then I think it's time to pull out the supplies again. Just to feel the rhythm of the needle and thread.

Thought you might like to see this small quilt I'm hand quilting. My trusty tools are in the bone dish. I love the chalk wheel. I purchased this one about 11 years ago. The pink chalk shows up on dark and light fabric. The chalk brushes away after the quilting is completed. Luckily this tool is refillable. Couldn't quilt without a thimble. I need a large sturdy one!

The thread is size 8 pearl cotton. I use a Chenille's sharp and has a large eye.

The hoop is important for me. You need a sturdy hoop that expands and tightens. Get the more expensive will thank yourself later.

My favorite quilting template is one I made about 20 years ago. It's a traditional Baptist fan pattern. The circular lines are 1" apart on a 12" square piece of plastic template and portions of the lines are cut away with an exacto knife.

I have done fine hand quilting....but only on a couple of quilts. This "country quilt" method seems to work best for me. It's quick and does the job. You can tell by my stitches that I'm not going to win any blue ribbon. I get a bit better as I stitch....the rhythm comes back and my stitches become more regular....but I'm not concentrating on a pretty stitch. I'm concentrating on speed.

Wishing you many small stitches in all of your quilts!

Until later,


Friday, March 5, 2010

Have Gun- Will Travel

This week has been consumed with my quilting projects. Usually while working on quilts, I watch quite a bit of TV. Romantic movies I've seen a hundred times...anything Jane Austin, While You Were Sleeping, Moonstruck, and Groundhog Day. The list could go on and on, but you know the ones I'm talking about, don't you? I can work and not have to look at the screen all the time because I have the scenes memorized. It makes the time pass more easily. I'm entertained while working.

We joined Netflicks this past year. I love the instant download offered by this company. No waiting for something to arrive in the mail. Now I go through their list of instant downloads and pick what I want to watch and just turn it on!

I found the series of Have Gun-Will Travel on Netflicks. What joy!!! Now I can watch all the programs I used to cry to be able to see. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old when this series first started. The show came on after Gunsmoke and right at my bedtime. My parents would let me see it sometimes....but not often. I remember crying one time and they finally relented. (I told my Mom about this and NOW she says she's sorry they didn't let me watch it.)

So....I'm working and my husband Dave walks into the room.
"What are you watching now?" he asks me.
"Have Gun- Will Travel" I reply.
"You have got to be kidding me."
"No, I used to cry to see this show....and I'm catching up on all of the episodes I missed. My childhood revisited. I don't even mind the black and white." I tell him.

Then it hit me. My whole life has been centered around searching for my Paladin. I'm shocked to say the least. I had no idea why I've been attracted to men with dark hair and a mustache. Now all is revealed.

All he needs is a calling card, horse, hat and his gun.

The above picture is one that many have written to me about. This cotton trim is one I used on the Bird in Hand pincushion. I over dyed it with tan Rit dye. It's original purpose is for knitting. But I loved the frayed look and thought it would make a great trim.

Until later dear friends....back to sewing