Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winter Dyeing Day with Kim and Diane!

087On Monday, February 23rd, Diane and I decided to do some fabric dyeing. I have a custom order for seven different shirts/tanks/rompers for one family and I was going to fill that order. As I was going through our white clothing inventory I discovered that I was ONE large t-shirt short…so, it turned out into a ‘just for fun’ dyeing day.

077 I am trying to increase my fabric stash because I have all the ideas for art quilts in my mind and need to have a wide variety of colors for these projects. Since I own/operate an apple orchard my first art quilt is probably going to be some sort of orchard image which means I need lots of different browns, greens and reds. That was my plan along with a few bins of fun! I have included a picture of one of my fun pins here! Don’t worry I’ll make sure to take a few ‘after’ pictures of the fabric and post them later so you can see what that bin made!

Dyeing in the middle of winter is nowhere near the fun as dyeing in the summer. It’s also a lot more difficult to ‘see’ what you have done. But, 086 it’s still fun and I really enjoy dyeing. My favorite part of it is that I go into it with an extremely laid back attitude. All the bottles of dyes just sit in front of me and I just mix a little of this and a little of that and go for it! I have a fairly decent knowledge of what colors I’m going to achieve by mixing certain things but I never know EXACTLY how it’s going to turn out or the pattern it’s going to make on the fabric.

Diane and I have gotten much more efficient in dyeing as well. We used 070to put each item in its own bucket or bin….we have learned that we can get a fairly decent variety by putting many fabrics in one bin. I think I had six bins that I dyed that day and still a few individual buckets. I was dyeing hats and I was being a bit picky that had a certain ‘look’ about them.

I was almost about to tell you our process of dyeing (what we do first, then next and to finish it up) but I realized that’s why you are going to sign up for our 2009 Summer Dyeing Workshop on June 20th! We will teach you the ‘formula’s’ for dyeing in the morning and then teach you the more creative side of dyeing.

088 One thing I will say is that HEAT is extremely important in our dyeing process…which can be hard to come by in a cold basement in February. 089 My husband has built us special insulated box that hooks up to our outdoor woodstove. Pex tubing coils around on the inside of this box and super hot water flows through it to heat up our fabric. It fits LOTS and LOTS of bins and buckets! It is amazing!

Diane gave me a quick ‘sneak peek’ at our fabrics yesterday and I am so excited to start ironing! (Trust me…that is HUGE for me to say…I HATE to iron, but that’s how you can really see just how amazing your fabrics are). One washout is complete…lots more to go but hopefully I’ll be able to post some end result pictures next week!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cora’s Playground: Etsy Benefit Sale

A little girl named Cora, who was just over a week younger than my baby Capri, passed away recently from cancer.  To read more about her story please go to:


Many etsian sellers have decided to sell specific items whose profit will go directly towards a playground in Cora’s name.  I could not hear this story and see pictures of this family and not imagine what I would hope other’s would do if I where in this situation.  I have chosen five adorable onesies to donate their proceeds to this amazing cause.

onesieSnails & Butterflies





il_430xN_47749324Starry Dusk







Cotton Candy







Beautiful Rose














100% of all proceeds from these listings goes directly to:

To find links to more shops participating in this fundraiser please go to:

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Booked My Room for the 2009 Quilt Retreat by Quilts By Barb!

and it was super easy! (My two-night booking cost was just under $80/night and that included taxes!)

Here's the info:

Do you live within driving distance of the retreat? You are not required to stay at the hotel to participate. We would love to have you!

Accommodations: Rooms are available at the connecting Baymont Inn and Suites The cost of the room is approximately $80. This is for one to four people. Contact the hotel directly at 608-762-6900 to make room reservations. Tell them you will be at the 2009 Quilt Retreat Getaway Weekend with Quilts by Barb to receive this rate.

Rooms may be booked anytime after December 1, 2008. All rooms are available on a first come, first served basis. The $80 rate is good for rooms booked before October 1, 2009.

If you are interested in sharing a room, email us at We will try to connect you with others who are also interested in sharing rooms.

Monday, February 16, 2009

preparing a quilt backing from 120" wide fabric

As a machine quilter, I get a lot of quilt backings that are very good and some that aren't quite so good.

  • Why is a good quilt backing necessary for a quilt?
A good quilt backing makes the quilt lay flat and square when finished. If you are going to hang your quilt on a wall or in a quilt show, this is even more important.

  • How much larger than the quilt top should my backing be?
I ask for my quilt backings to be 6 inches larger than the quilt top. If your quilt is 50 inches by 70 inches, a quilt back that is 56 inches by 76 inches works best. If you leave your quilt backing 56 inches by 90 inches, I can use it BUT it is harder to get that perfect tension on your quilt backing You are doing your machine quilter a favor by finishing your quilt backing and making it the proper size.

Today I am going to just talk about the wide quilt backings purchased from quilt stores. I will address backings made from 45 inch side fabrics later.

  • Why should I tear my backing instead of just leaving the edge like I got it from the quilt store when I bought it?
When you buy the 120 inch wide at the quilt store, the edge is NEVER straight and square. When a quilter, machine or hand quilter, tries to put this on the quilt machine or frame, it is very uneven and will not lay flat. This will mean possible puckers in the backing and your quilt will not be flat when finished.

  • What do you suggest doing with the wide quilt backing from the store to prepare the quilt back?
First, measure your quilt top. For example the quilt is 75 inches by 90 inches. Your wide quilt backing is 120 inches wide.

Tear the non salvage edge of your backing until you get a strip that will tear all away across the width of the backing. You will be surprised how much off grain the wide backing actually is! I suggest purchasing an extra 1/2 yard when purchasing this fabric. You may loose that much by the time you square both ends of the fabric.

Next measure across the width from one salvage side toward the other salvage until you are at 81 inches. That is the 75 inch width of your quilt plus the extra 6 inches. TEAR at this mark down the length of your backing. This tear will be parallel to the salvage.

Set the narrow piece you tore off aside. Now measure down the salvage that is still attached to the piece of backing that you will be using 96 inches. That is 90 inches plus the additional 6 inches. TEAR ACROSS your backing piece perpendicular to the salvage. You can leave the one salvage piece on the backing. It will be used to pin your backing to the quilting machine or quilt frame.

  • What is the last step in preparing my backing?
PRESS the backing. When you get this wide backing off the bolt, it has very heavy creases that must be removed in order to avoid small creases on the back of your quilt. Use spray starch or steam to remove this heavy crease.

  • Do I need to preshrink my backing fabric?
I don't preshrink any of my fabric. There are a lot of different thoughts on this; I don't preshrink, others do.

Wasn't that easy? It takes a very small time to prepare a perfect quilt backing and it makes a much better quilt when finished.

Happy quilting!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Diane's 2008 Retreat Quilt

Got this picture (see more pictures on my website, and I wanted to share her story with you.

This is what Diane wrote to me:

"Barb - I finished my quilt from the retreat but I won't have it to show at the next retreat since I gave it as a comfort quilt to a friend of my son.

His friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor (grade 3 - fast growing) in the last month. I made it so his friends and family could sign it in the light areas of the quilt and even the back when they visit him. As you can see the backing was made from left over fabric. I even made a cover/pillowcase for the quilt from leftover fabric. I quilted it on my domestic machine.

The label reads as follows:

Chris - This quilt is just like of a kind!

Wrap this quilt around you and remember all of our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Diane Kettleson - Kirk's mom
February 2009
Tumbling Blocks"

Great job, Diane, and our prayers are with Chris. Aren't quilts the best!


Friday, February 13, 2009

Quilts By Barb Etsy Shop

Hello everyone! I just wanted to share some wonderful news with you! I have been helping Barb set up her very own etsy shop. Yes, you can now view all the amazing quilts that Barb makes herself and easily purchase them.

There are currently seven items listed in her shop. Over the next few days and weeks we will be listing even more things.

This process has been really exciting for me as well. I've seen some of the things she's made but every time she sends something to me to photograph and list I am pleasantly surprised! One of my favorites is her Hand-Dyed Wonder Convergence Wall Hanging. I think it is absolutely gorgeous and so fun to look at...I see something new and different each time!

I am also absolutely in LOVE with her minky blankets! The fabric is just so adorable and the blankets are so thick and cozy! I secretly want one for me but I already have a ridiculous number of blankets. These would be so wonderful to just cuddle up in and read a book or to wrap your little girl in!

And then there is the 'Wizard of Oz' panel quilt. For you Dorothy's the quilt for you. It's made of gorgeous panels that have scenes from the classic movie and then is quilted in a wonderful maze pattern that reminds me of the yellow brick road!

Diane and Barb attended a workshop taught by Ricky Tims and have made some amazing wall hangings and quilts using the convergence method. Three of Barb's convergence wall hangings are listed right now, but hopefully I will get two blankets that she made listed as well soon...they are absolutely stunning! I can't wait to list them!

One quilting book is currently listed in the shop right now. More books and patterns are coming soon!

Make sure to check out Barb's etsy site and enjoy the beautiful items that are listed! Be sure to check back often to see all the new creations!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Glad to see so many finished projects from last year's retreat! These are photos of my Stone Cottage quilt. Decided to do a plain border since it was so big and had a lot going on with all the different fabrics. Barb did a really nice pebble pattern for the quilting which was the perfect compliment to all the batiks.

Jean has her quilt top done

I got another picture of a finished quilt top from the 2008 Retreat. Don't you just love it??

The border just really makes the quilt.

Thanks, Jean, for the picture.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2009 Dyeing Day Workshop! SIGN UP NOW!

Yup! It's time to get ready for the 2009 Summer Dyeing Workshop Sponsored by Quilts By Barb!

Once again it will be held a Lapacek's Orchard in Poynette, WI. Hopefully we will have a wonderful and gorgeous day for dyeing and will be able to do it out in the sun and on the lawn...otherwise we'll be in the spacious shed.

All of the details on the dying day can be found at: or just go to and click on the '2009 summer dyeing workshop' link.

I'm going to use this blog to tell you a little bit about how the day actually goes, show you examples of things you can accomplish in one day, post pictures of quilts we have made from our hand-dyed fabrics, give you ideas for clothing dyeing options, and hopefully we'll hear from some people that have attended the workshop in the past!

Today I'll tell you about what you can expect in the morning (I'm hoping Diane will comment to let me know if I am accurate or forgetting something).

When you arrive at the orchard you will sign in and pick up your 'kit' for the day. We will have a small 'shop' set up with more pfd fabric, articles of clothing, dyeing supplies for you to take home, etc, that you will be able to look through as you eat your muffin or donut (not sure what we'll have just yet...I'll keep you posted).
Once everyone arrives we do a quick explanation of the day, show you examples of what you're going to dye, and what you can make with the fabric that you dye once it's completed.
We start the day off by teaching the color family technique. We like to have people that have never dyed before to start with this because it teaches some basic techniques and creates some fabulous fabric. One thing I want to stress about this workshop is that nothing is set in can participate in whatever lessons you want. One of us will be able to help you if you would like to try something different or have a plan as to what you want to dye.
Tune in for more info on the upcoming workshop next week!
Remember to check out the website for more details!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two more quilts from 2008 retreat

Sue sent me these pictures this morning. Top picture is Sue with her Tumbling Logs quilt. Yes, again it is a log cabin variation. Judy Martin's Log Cabin Quilt Book is the greatest.

At the left, bottom, is Jean with her log cabin quilt. This is a variation of the log cabin quilts in the book.

If you are interested in purchasing Judy Martin's Log Cabin Quilt Book, it is for sale in My web store for $25.00 including postage.

Christine's Log Cabin

Check out Christine's Log Cabin Quilt from the 2008 Quilt Retreat Weekend. It is put together as a log cabin BUT looks like a Double Wedding Ring. This quilt is from Judy Martin's Log Cabin book.

The quilt is custom machine quilted by Quilts by Barb. All participants of the Quilt Retreat Getaway Weekends receive a 10% discount on their retreat quilt.

Click on the picture to see more pictures on my website.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Whirling Spirals

This is the second project I made from the Easy Bias-Covered Curves book. My fabric choices have a much "calmer" feel than the sample quilts in the book. I used some of my hand dyes with a fossil fern background and a striped batik. I'm planning to cut the corners off diagonally to make this 8 sided and use it for a table topper on a round table.

I sent this off to Barb to be quilted because I figure she'll put something really cool in all that background.

This design could easily be upsized to make a lap or bed sized quilt. The size of the blocks can be made as large or small as you like to fit the size you want.