Friday, December 4, 2015

Book Review - Mi Amor by Margarete Heinisch

Mi Amor, Legacy Appliqué

by Margarete Heinisch
©2014 American Quilter’s Society
ISBN 978-1-60460-140-4
Proudly printed in the United States of America

Margarete’s exquisite quilt “Mi Amor” was exhibited at American Quilter's Society QuiltWeek in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 2012, and this quilt certainly deserved the Best of Show award. I was fortunate to be able to view this magnificent quilt 'up close and personal' and take photos before the show officially opened. The first thing that caught my eye was a peacock in full display – a stunning feat of skill with fabric and thread.
There is so much to see and enjoy on this quilt, I hoped the maker would publish a book. Gladly, she has!

Born and raised in Vienna, Margarete moved to California in 1971. After visiting a quilt exhibit, she was inspired to make a log cabin quilt, and like many of us, found herself immersed in the quilt world. Mi Amor was made as a 25th anniversary quilt for her daughter and son-in-law.

Sixteen original Baltimore album style blocks highlight her family life, loves, America’s history, patriotism, social compassion, and spiritual expression.

Margarete includes imaginative use of many kinds of fabrics and threads on her quilt, and some unexpected materials. Hidden among potted flowers is a baby bird in a nest woven from yarn and Margarete’s own hair!

Flowers are made with gathered yoyos, hexagons, yarn, and rickrack. Some are folded, frayed or fringed. No flower garden is without critters, so she included ladybugs, potato bugs, caterpillars, bumble-bees and many birds. Huge butterfly wings with bound edges seem ready to lift off the surface of the quilt. A multitude of embroidery stitches add final touches on the appliqué.

Margarete makes creative use of iron-on ribbons and acrylic fabric paint. Pigma pens form delicate facial details, eagle feathers, lettering, and a detailed drawing of a church scene. Step-by-steps show how to handle dimensional features such as a bound book, a written scroll, a little girl’s dress, and a woven basket with ruched rim. A unique partially-pieced compass block is framed with bias, rickrack, and prairie points.

The book, Mi Amor, offers close up photos and diagrams explaining how to achieve these techniques and more. From the CD-ROM included, print patterns in sections on 8½"x11" paper, or .pdf files for commercial printing. Print full color pages of each block for reference or fabric shopping. Appliqué fans will enjoy Margarete’s beautiful book, Mi Amor. Try some of Margarete’s fun techniques in your quilts, or be inspired to create your own original appliqué designs.

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham
(c) 2015 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Precision Pieced Binding

Precision Pieced Binding
Binding is usually the final step to finishing your quilt. Make it special! Whether your quilt is pieced, appliqued, painted or crazy, you might want to try my binding technique. Made with multiple matching fabrics, you can choose exactly where binding seams meet, and sew the binding seam at any chosen angle. It could add a nice finishing touch on a landscape quilt, and carry the scene out to the edges of the quilt with matching fabrics. 
"Precision Pieced Binding" is now published in American Quilter, November 2012Editor-in-Chief, Christine Brown asked me if I could explain - and photograph - a technique for precision pieced binding on her quilt. Yikes! I had no idea how I would do that at the time. However, the deadline was generous, and I agreed to give it my best effort. The technique I've worked out can be used with bias binding or straight of grain, with single or double fold binding.
Bonus:  At the end of the article is a technique makes that last binding seam (which can be the most challenging) easier and more accurate than any other method. I have not seen anyone else join their seams in this way, but it is SO easy!
I hope you will try my Precision Pieced Binding technique on your next quilt. This issue is available now at news stands and bookstores. Support your local quilt shop or order at

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

(c) 2012 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.

Friday, November 6, 2015

May I Interrupt Your Quilting Design?

Deborah Y. sent a question to AppliqueAddicts, a Yahoo group: “I feel like I'm stuck in a handquilting rut. Any suggestions other than cross hatching and echo quilting to complement applique?”

There’s nothing wrong with quilting a classic background grid or echo quilting. It’s relatively easy to mark and so relaxing to stitch; almost meditative. Your mind can ponder the world as your needle and thread gradually bring the surface of your quilt to life.

I shared a photo with the group of an antique (1848) quilt from my collection for inspiration. This quilt has floral quilting designs in the open spaces among the applique. (The applique and quilting designs were traced from that antique quilt for patterns and published in my book, Baltimore Garden Quilt.*)

Here is how the designs look on the antique quilt. Dense background quilting helps to emphasize the floral quilting designs; in this case very close straight lines, almost stippling. But that doesn’t mean that stippling is required, or even necessary, to make use of the floral designs.

Here is how the designs look when they fill an open space on my reproduction of that quilt. My friend, Marty Vint (Dogwood Quilting), skillfully quilted around the applique first. Then she used my tracings of the antique quilting designs and quilted those designs to fill the open spaces; thus background “fill” was not needed.
And here is the back of my reproduction quilt. Plenty of lovely quilting here! (Judges have awarded this quilt with several ribbons at national quilt shows.)

My friend, Carla is hand quilting her Baltimore Garden. She shares her progress on Facebook, and has kindly given me permission to re-share her photo here. Carla is quilting a background grid, and sprinkling just a few of the original motifs in the open areas between the applique.

On another antique 1850s applique quilt (shown below),  various feather motifs interrupt double rodded quilting lines. Antique quilts are my favorite inspiration!

Copy bits of your applique designs and echo them in your quilting. Add a single stemmed rose, a bird, a heart or heart-in-hand, or any motif special to you. I like to add a double heart. Tracing a child’s hand is another fun idea. Wind some leafy vines around your applique or between your blocks to simulate sashing.

Quilt your initials or your whole name into the quilt, and of course, a date within the quilting. Finally, be sure to plan a label for the back of the quilt, and document your quilt for those who will care for your quilt in years to come.

*From the CD included with the book Baltimore Garden Quilt, print selected patterns as needed. A complete full-size paper pattern set is also available as a separate package at my website .)

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

(c) 2015 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Quilter's Overnight at Golden Eagle Inn, Bedford PA

My friend, Mary Koval, has a lovely quilt shop in Bedford, Pennsylvania. I have wanted to visit for a long time. Recently, Mary offered several workshops with Bonnie Hunter, so we signed up right away and planned our trip to Bedford.

Mary's Retreat Center (above Mary's Quilt Shop) was fully booked, so Mary recommended we stay at the Golden Eagle Inn overnight, just a block away. Thank you, Mary! It was wonderful! We thoroughly enjoyed the Inn, the shopping, and Bonnie's Smith Mountain Morning workshop!

 The historic Golden Eagle Inn, one of the oldest buildings in downtown Bedford, was built in 1794 and completely renovated in the early 1990s. Hardwood floors, high ceilings, and elegant floral wallpaper made me think I had stepped back in time as we walked up the plush carpeted grand staircase.  

 The innkeepers made us feel right at home. The rooms are spacious and bright, decorated and furnished with antiques, vintage curtains, linens and quilts.

 The key to my room was attached to the handle of an antique spoon.

 A full-length mirror, fresh flowers, and some modern conveniences (a television is hidden inside the furniture).

 Someone had lots of fun decorating,

 choosing antiques,
 and repurposing items from days gone by.

 This antique wooden box at one time contained "5 SETS NEVERSLIP SHOES." When commerce and travel depended upon horses, these horseshoes provided steel-centered calks of various sizes and shapes. The calks could be adjusted with a screwdriver to the changing conditions of travel -- cobblestones, pavement, snow and ice, or pulling heavy loads. They saved a horse from sprains and bruises which would constantly result from insecure footing, and saved an owner the trouble and expense of replacing the shoe as often.
 Passageways between rooms offer little surprises and revive memories from the past.

 Sitting rooms for visiting, reading, surfing, or sharing a cup of tea with a friend.

 Vintage linens everywhere!

 There are two elegant dining rooms -- not just a Bed and Breakfast, the Inn has a full restaurant for lunch and dinner as well. Be sure to make a reservation, because the food is delicious!
 Best table in the house, with a view of the garden.

 Begin the day with fresh fruit.

  And start your day right with a hearty breakfast.There were lots of fresh raspberries in between those pancakes! Yum!
I am looking forward to our next visit to Bedford, and the Golden Eagle Inn. Now I am off to finish that quilt I started in Bonnie's workshop.

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

(c) 2015 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Applique A Tiny Bird's Eye

Several people have asked me to do a blog post about how I manage hand appliqué on a tiny bird’s eye. And they keep reminding me. (These things take time!) So here it is.

First, enjoy shopping for just the right fabric for your bird’s eye! On antique Baltimore album quilts, a daisy-like flower might be cut out and sewn as a bird’s eye. I appliqued this tiny flower which made a 1/8” circle – quite challenging!

This fish’s eye was the center of a large flower. His upper lip was appliquéd with the technique explained below.

Polka dots are great if you find just the right size. Circles and ovals provide a nice guideline to appliqué. This eagle's eye seems to have eyelashes.

Here's a wild bird eye! Wish I had more than a scrap of this fabric....

The little block design below was clipped from the full-size block in my Baltimore Garden Quilt book, for a workshop on basics of appliqué with freezer paper on top, tricks and techniques for leaves, skinny stems, stuffed cherries, and a tiny bird’s eye.

The black polka dot is the perfect size for my bird’s eye, and its white background allows me to include a white eye-ring which shows up nicely against the bird. But it’s still really small to applique! Here is the trick: Usually I cut an appliqué seam allowance about 3/16 inch. However, for tiny appliqué, cut out the appliqué fabric with a HUGE seam allowance. Knot a thread, and baste all around the eye. End the basting thread with another knot.

If a white eye-ring is desired, use a circle template to mark a bigger circle. Depending on your fabric, you might not need that, such as the eagle with eyelashes shown above.

Clip out one or two basting stitches – just enough to trim a LITTLE BIT of the HUGE seam allowance down to 3/16 inch (or less) for ONE STITCH of appliqué. The remaining basting stitches will hold the fabric in place while you begin to sew.

Thread the needle with appliqué thread and knot the end. Insert the appliqué needle under the eye fabric (so the knot will be hidden) to begin the first appliqué stitch. Turn the seam allowance under and send the needle to the back of the block. Pull the thread taught and then park the needle.

That first appliqué stitch is now holding one side of the eye in place while the remaining basting stitches are still holding the other side.

At that point, you must clip out more basting, and trim more seam allowance away before you can continue around the circle. The appliqué stitches must be very close together. Instead of the usual horizontal appliqué stitch, send the needle straight up and down vertically for each stitch. You might call it a stab stitch. 
About halfway around, all basting will be gone, but the eye will be stable. From there on, trim carefully and appliqué until the last bit is turned under. This is probably the most difficult part. The seam allowances have to be very small – all the seam allowances have to be cut narrow enough to fit under their its part of the circle.

TIPS: On this tiny appliqué, concern yourself with only one single stitch at a time. Trim only enough and turn under only enough seam allowance for that one stitch. Use the needle to wipe the seam allowance under. Slide the tip of the needle under the circle to smooth the gathers. If too much is pushed under, flattening the circle, use the tip of the needle to coax it out a bit before taking the stitch. Push in any bumps with a fingernail or a toothpick. Hold the block at the eye between your finger and thumb and press to flatten the gathered turnunder (finger press).
Finished! If there are a few bumps in the applique, you can still push those bumps in with the needle, a toothpick, or a fingernail, and take an extra stitch or two.

In my book Baltimore Garden Quilt, there are more ways to make use of this method. Try this technique on a bird’s eye, or any small appliqué piece. I would love to see your photos – visit me on Facebook. And watch for a future post on embroidered bird eyes.

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

(c) 2015 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Teaching Hand Applique at Paducah 2015

Join us in Paducah, Kentucky at the American Quilter's Society QuiltWeek for some applique!  Whether you are a beginner or advanced appliquer, have fun learning new techniques in Paducah. I will be teaching SIX different applique workshops! Many workshops are almost FULL, so hurry and register. 

Mark your calendar for April 22-25, 2015. Bring your friends! Enjoy the incredible AQS contest quilts! Visit the vendors! Enjoy learning new techniques!

Edge-Ruched Flower and Bud - Wednesday Afternoon 1:00-4:00 pm Lincoln Room
SOLD OUT Dress up your appliqué quilts or clothing with easy edge-ruched flowers and buds. Learn easy techniques to finish this little block. Start with a simple leaf and stem and learn to appliqué smooth curves. Sew a fancy ruched flower and a bud bursting from its calyx. Add a stuffed circle or button to finish your ruched flower. I will also show you how to turn your ruched flowers into fabric jewelry to wear.
Applique Stems and Vines - Wednesday Morning 8:30-11:30am Lincoln Room

SOLD OUT Start as a beginner or expand your appliqué toolbox! Barbara will demonstrate as many methods as time allows to make stems, vines, and basket weavers for various styles of hand or machine appliqué. Determine which methods are best for each appliqué situation. Learn about bias and straight grain, when each cut is most effective, and easily figure out how long and how wide to cut fabric for stems and vines to fit your project. Learn several methods of stem placement, how to neatly turn under cut stem ends, and how to reduce bulk or add dimension. Handout booklet is loaded with graphics, tips, and tricks for eighteen different methods. Choose a few methods to sew stems on your class project, or make samples to store in your booklet for future reference. Top off your stems with colorful yo-yos or add flowers of your choice.
Baltimore Garden Dogwood - Thursday Morning  8:30am-4:00pm  Lincoln Room

SOLD OUT This graceful applique block is drawn from the antique quilt featured in Barbara’s book “Baltimore Garden Quilt,” and may have been inspired by our native dogwood trees. Honor tradition with red and green, sew pink dogwood flowers, or learn ways to harness the power of modern fabrics for any color flowers. Start as a beginner, or expand your appliqué skills! Learn techniques to finish this block using needleturn with freezer paper on top method. Begin with gentle, smooth curves and pointy points on leaves. Choose from several methods to make stems and two ways to place them in graceful curves. Learn how to appliqué inner curves and round outer curves on the flowers. Experiment with layered appliqué. Finish with perfectly round stuffed flower centers, or embellish with French knots or beads. Learn Barbara’s method for accurate placement without marking the background, tips for handling small pieces, and ideas to make your hand appliqué faster.
Baltimore Garden Bluebird and Tulip - Friday Morning  8:30-11:30am  Lincoln Room
SOLD OUT A single tulip clipped from one of the original blocks in Barbara’s “Baltimore Garden Quilt” is joined by a swooping bird. Start as a beginner, or expand your applique skills. Learn to applique smooth inner and outer curves, and two methods for a graceful curved stem. Master inner and outer points and learn tricks to make your fabric do as YOU wish using freezer paper on top as a guide for needleturn. Barbara will offer a method of accurate applique placement without marking the background, and tips to make your hand applique faster. For a final touch, the bird will seem to come to life with an embroidered eye.

Antique Cornerstone Applique - Friday Evening  5:30pm - 8:30pm  Lincoln Room
SOLD OUT Inspired by an antique Pennsylvania applique quilt, learn to hand applique with an easy back-basting technique and needleturn using very simple tools – fabrics, pencil, scissors, needle and thread. Start as a beginner, or expand your applique toolbox! Choose fabrics and marking tools for best results with this easy and portable technique. Honor tradition with red and green, or go wild from your fabric stash. Determine the order of appliqué placement and how to align symmetrical pieces. Learn to appliqué gentle inner and outer curves, turn angles on flower buds, and perfect points on leaves. Barbara will offer tips and tricks to handle small and large applique pieces, and ideas to make your hand applique faster.
Baltimore Garden Rose Sprig - Saturday Morning  8:30am-11:30am Lincoln Room

SOLD OUT This graceful little rose sprig is clipped from a pattern in Barbara’s book Baltimore Garden Quilt. With freezer paper on top as your guide for needleturn, learn to hand appliqué with gentle curves, Vs, easy points, and a two-part flower bud with inner and outer curves. Choose from several methods to make graceful curved stems. Honor the traditional with red and green, harness the power of modern fabrics to fussy cut roses and buds, or try an optional broderie perse technique. Barbara will offer tips and tricks to make your hand appliqué faster, and teach you how to manage placement of small appliqué pieces with no marks on the background.

Hope to see you in Paducah!
Barbara M. Burnham

(c) 2015 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.