Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Trifold Applique Stems – Easy, Fast, and Skinny

Baltimore Applique Society invited me to teach a “Sit-and-Sew,” so I shared my favorite method  for applique stems: Trifold Applique Stems – Easy, Fast, and Skinny. BAS member, Kristy Poindexter writes for their newsletter, and she graciously allowed me to share part of her article here.

November Sit-and-Sew with Barbara Burnham
by Kristy Poindexter
     Soft-spoken and congenial, Barbara Burnham gave a capacity crowd at November’s Sit-and-Sew the “skinny” on stems. As a charter member of BAS, author of Baltimore Garden Quilt, and veteran teacher, she knows many methods to make stems, but she demonstrated her favorite method—Trifold by Hand—for us. This is method #10 from her booklet, Appliqué Stems and Vines: So Many Methods! which includes more than a dozen other ways to fashion stems and vines.

Her Trifold by Hand method begins with a strip of fabric, either straight or bias cut, that is about three times the width of the finished stem. So, cut a 3/4” strip to finish at 1/4”.

Since the strip will be folded into thirds, Barbara showed us how to use a ruler and a hera marking tool to score the first fold line gently on the wrong side of the fabric 1/3 of the width of the strip.

Then, she folded the fabric into thirds (it was amazingly easy) and pressed the strip on a not-quite-cotton setting. Steam or spray mist can be used to reinforce the folds.

Barbara then shared an EXTRA TIP. If you have made your trifolded stem on the bias grain, you can “pre-curve” it at the ironing board. Place the folded strip with raw-edge-up. Gently bend the stem as you iron – bending the raw edge toward the outside curve – the raw edge is easier to bend outward. Applique the inside curve (folded edge) first.

In response to a question about estimating the total length of strips needed, Barbara held a bendable tape measure on its edge along the length of a stem, as we could do on a pattern. Simply add the various lengths to know how much to make.

Barbara also gave us the “super skinny” on making a 1/8” or 1/16” stems – method #9 in her booklet. To order Barbara’s books and patterns, visit her website

She is teaching a beautiful woven basket at the Academy of Applique in Williamsburg this February, so you might want to sign up for her class to learn more ways to make stems!

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

(c) 2016 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lap App Love!

Cherry Bird from Baltimore Garden Quilt
Having fun stitching applique on my new Lap App!

Thanks to my students at Baltimore on the Prairie for sharing their new Lap App with me.
Best invention ever! The Lap App is a new tool for stitchers of all kinds. Basically, it is a little work surface that you place on your lap and adjust to your own comfortable position for sewing.

I always encourage my hand applique students to brace their hands on a surface for stability
while stitching, rather than hold their sewing up in the air, and to practice good posture
for health and circulation.

So of course, I had to have one! I am so glad I made this investment - using the Lap App while sewing in my comfy armchair allows me to have much better posture. Now I can't wait to use it while sewing in the car, which is always a bit awkward!

The Lap App comes with a sewing themed cloth cover, an ironing cover, fine sandpaper for
tracing onto fabric for hand piecing or applique, and other features. Joyce Haskins, the co-inventor, explains more here:  

P.S. I have no affiliation, just a happy user.

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

(c) 2016 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Bird's Eyes at Baltimore On The Prairie

We just returned home from teaching applique at Baltimore on the Prairie in Nebraska City, NE. The cherry bird block from my Baltimore Garden Quilt book was one of the workshops.

It is always fun to see the different fabrics students choose, especially for bird’s eyes.

Small flowers are a great choice for bird eyes.

Circles and polka dots are great choices, if they are not too small to sew.

Edie also used a polka dot.

This bird’s blue eye was cut from the same fabric as the wing, to match, and check out those fancy bird legs!

A red eye, cut from a flower print, and a carefully placed polka dot stripe gave this bird fancy legs!

And who would imagine that this fancy floral print would make fabulous bird eyes? Angela from Ireland, that’s who!

For tips on sewing small bird’s eyes, visit this blog post: Applique a Tiny Bird's Eye.

Hope to see you all again in September 2017 at Baltimore on the Prairie.

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

(c) 2016 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Baltimore On the Prairie 2016

I am really looking forward to teaching these two hand applique workshops, and there are still a few seats available. But they are filling quickly! Hope to see you there in September.

Baltimore on the Prairie
September 21-24, 2016
Lied Lodge and Conference Center
Nebraska City, Nebraska

Class Samples
Baltimore Garden Wild Cherry Birds is a block from the Baltimore Garden Quilt, inspired by an 1848 applique quilt in my collection.

Baltimore Garden Tulip Wreath is a new original design never published before, inspired by the antique quilt.

For more information, visit: Baltimore on the Prairie
Hope to see you there!

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

New Block Finish and Book Sale

Between preparing samples and handouts for applique workshops, and working full time, it seems I hardly ever have time to stitch for myself. But I have finally finished stitching this block from Baltimore Garden Quilt in a new colorway, just for fun!

To celebrate, I’m offering SALE PRICES for my Baltimore Garden Quilt book. Check out the Store on my website for this book and others, plus some new patterns available.

 A favorite fabric is a great way to be inspired to applique -- this little warbler fabric has been in my stash for years, waiting for just the right project. The butterflies are cut from a more recent fabric I found in a local quilt shop, SpringWater Designs in Columbia, MD. (I will be teaching the Bluebird Wreath workshop there in July.)
In an earlier post about choosing fabrics for applique, I showed this little bird fabric that I wanted to feature, and some of the ‘first draft’ companion fabrics for this block. You can see, of course, most of them did not make the final cut.

Students always ask to see the back of my applique - here's a closeup back and front.

Aren’t we fortunate to have a multitude of beautiful fabrics available today? Here is the same block on the original 1848 quilt, on which the Baltimore Garden Quilt book and patterns are based. I can only hope to hand quilt my applique as beautifully as the original.

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham
P.S. The bird fabric is "Bittersweet" by Moda. The butterfly is "Sue Schlaback of Wild Apple for Timeless Treasures.
(c) 2015 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Events Dedicated to the Art of Appliqué

There was a rumor going around recently saying that “the Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy in Williamsburg, VA is no more, because Elly has retired.”  The truth is that Elly has closed her yearly academy; however, she has inspired others to carry on this wonderful tradition, at Williamsburg and at other locations!

I know it’s true, because I am honored to be one of 12 applique artists invited to teach workshops at Academy of Appliqué 2016 in Williamsburg, and also Baltimore on the Prairie 2016 with other nationally known applique teachers.

Barbara Blanton will continue the Academy of Appliqué at Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, Virginia from February 29 - March 5, 2016, offering workshops for beginner, intermediate and advanced stitchers with nationally known, award winning instructors, plus an up close and personal tour to view quilts at the Museum of Colonial Williamsburg. More info:

Tresa Jones will carry on the appliqué tradition at Baltimore on the Prairie, September 21-24, 2016 at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, Nebraska City, NE, offering workshops with nationally known, award winning instructors, and a bus tour to the International Quilt Study Center. More info:

Kathy Dunigan will host The Kathy Dunigan Academy of Appliqué, Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront, Rockwall, Texas from February 1-6, 2016, offering workshops with “leading teachers, well known and new on the quilt scene, both hand and machine alike,” plus additional festivities. More info:

Appliqué is alive and thriving! I hope to see lots of applique enthusiasts at one or all of these events.

And another! Don't forget Applique Away on Galveston Bay! February 2016. Teachers are Pearl Pereira, Sue Garman and Margaret Willingham.
Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

Monday, January 4, 2016

Choosing Fabrics for Applique Blocks

Applique students often ask me how I choose fabrics. That's a difficult question to answer. If you are trying to reproduce an antique quilt, or trying to match a photo that comes with a pattern, most of the fabric decisions are fairly easy - it’s just a matter of finding similar fabrics.

For this vase block in my book, Baltimore Garden Quilt, fabric choices were easy by following the antique quilt (also shown here) with reproduction fabrics available at the time.

If you want another color scheme, there are many inspirations and fabric choices.  It helps to know a bit about contrast, value, intensity, but there are no right or wrong choices, as long as the end result pleases YOU. Helpful books for learning to choose fabrics: Jinny Beyer's "Color Confidence for Quilters" and "The Scrap Look." Joen Wolfrom has also written several wonderful books on choosing color schemes for quilts.

This Baltimore Garden Vase is one of the blocks I will be teaching at the 2016 Academy of Appliqué, in Williamsburg, VA, so I am working up some different samples. One version is a simple color scheme in shades of pink and blue.

For another version, I want to find a feature fabric to make the vase center a focal point. Auditions begin with a pattern window cutout for the vase center.  Some fabrics are more promising than others.  This white dove could inspire a Christmas version.
A horse racing theme might be fun.

Chickens are popular, and the black background offers nice contrast.

I love bluebirds, but these are rejects – the birds get lost in a confusing background.



A bluebird with nest is too big – another reject.

But this little warbler has real potential! So I will cut this applique piece to feature her. Next step is to start finding fabrics to coordinate with her --

-- looking for bright red, red-orange, orange to gold, and greens from light to dark with olive tones. I won’t use them all, though. 

Appliqué takes a lot of your time and effort, and fabric costs $$$, so you might want an idea of what your final result will really look like before investing your efforts. Stacking fabrics that blend and coordinate is a good way to start.
For a complex block, I might take the time to paste a mockup – rough cutting chunks of fabric, and pasting them with gluestick to a pattern copy. The paper mockup will be my guide for fabric cutting and stitching, as well as inspiration on my sewing room wall.

There are many ways to approach fabric selection for applique - this is just one example. I'll try to post some more ideas soon.

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