Five Fun Facts about Barbara Brackman

Like many of us, Barbara Brackman started quilting as a way to relieve stress. But what began as a hobby has become a way of life. Barbara is a renowned fabric and quilt historian, the author of multiple books, and a Moda designer. Her latest fabric line, 1862 Battle Hymn, is an example of what Barbara does so well—melding her knowledge of history and love of antique fabric to create something we can all learn from and use. 1862 Battle Hymn commemorates the 150th year of the beginning of the Civil War, as well as the song The Battle Hymn of the Republic, published in that same year.

You may think you know everything about Barbara from her books and blogs (as well as from this blog) and the more than 20 lines of fabric she’s designed for Moda. But here are five facts about Barbara that might be news to you.

1. Barbara wanted to take home economics in high school, but her father thought it was a waste of time and wanted her to take accounting, instead.

2. Barbara loves to hand sew, and as a child she was especially fond of embroidering dishtowels. She’s made a return to embroidery in recent years, stitching a small quilt and covering it with embroidery stitches.

3. Barbara says she was born to blog. “I love blogging because I enjoy writing and blogs are such a direct way of getting out information—no editor, no time delay, free, very visual,” she says. In addition to “Barbara Brackman’s Material Culture about quilt fabric history, she writes 1812 War and Piecing and the Civil War Quilts blog. “Having three, each dealing with a single subject, is a way to keep things organized, at least in my mind,” she says. “I have always wanted to be a newspaper reporter and now I have my own virtual newspapers.”

4. Barbara sorts her voluminous collection of antique and vintage fabrics by era and color into 50 notebooks. “I have hundreds of pieces of fabric and I always say that a hoarder can’t find anything, but I know where every piece is,” she says. “I’m a hoarder who loves to file.”

5. Barbara taught one of her nieces (who is now in her 30s) to sew when she was little. “We cut out red and white squares and I was busy working and when I looked back she’d sewn all the red ones together and all the white ones together,” says Barbara. “Later she said ‘Why would I make a quilt when you can just make one for me?’”

Thanks, Barbara, for sharing some of your personal history, as well as your knowledge of quilt history with us!

The Learning Curve Ruler


  • Set machine to a small stitch length (1.6 or 18 SPI).
  • Sew SLOWLY. Set machine on SLOW speed if possible.
  • Always start sewing on a piece of scrap fabric, leaving it attached to hold the threads.
  • Sew units right-sides-together, with concave unit on top (Background Fabric).
  • Line up the curved edges of the two units at starting end, leaving a small “dog ear” of the top piece hanging over.

And many more suggestions and tips are included with the ruler.

Ask for this brand new ruler at your local quilt shop and conquer the Learning Curve!

Finding the Time…

Loose track of time and wonder where the time went? We have gathered together some of our favorite free online and mobile apps to help you get control of your time so you can enjoy the little things in life.

Phone Alarms/Alerts…
Just about any and all mobile phones have alarms that you can set for just about whatever you need. Sure, you may think that they are just for waking you up in the morning, but they are great for a lot more than just that. Take advantage of your clock application on your phone and set alarms for anything you need to do at a specific time.  Meetings, feeding the baby, picking up the kids, making dinner, and even for taking out some time for yourself!

Google Calendar…
Google has many great free online applications that are free to use.  I personally like the Google Calendar. It allows you to setup and manage more than one calendar under a single account. This is very useful for the working mom and shop owners. Easily keep track of your store schedule, personal schedule, kids schedules, your husbands schedule, and more all in one place. You can share your calendar(s) with others so they know when you are available and best of all you can specify a separate color for each calendar… so it is easy to track who is doing what and when! Have your husband manage his own calendar and if your kids are old enough, they can manage their own calendars. Calendars can be left private (default) or made public for the world to see. Store owners can easily set their “store calendar” to be public so consumers can see what shows and events their favorite store is having. You can even link your store calendar into your website for easy consumer access. Google Calendars are a quick and easy way to always know what is going on and no more unexpected surprises. Learn more about Google Calendars here.

Teux Deux…
Have a to do list that is forever growing? The thing I hate the most about the traditional to do lists is if I cannot finish it in one day, then I have to rewrite everything that I was not able to accomplish on a new page or day so I can easily see what needs to be done TODAY. Or maybe you have something that needs to be done in a future date and need to remember to do it that day.  TEUXDEUX is the answer. This online application is a simple, user friendly application that helps you keep track of your to do lists easily. There is even a SOMEDAY to do list that you can have for all those miscellaneous tasks that you would like to accomplish someday. Best of all there is an iPhone app available to take your tasks lists mobile. They are also currently working on a Teux Deux app for other mobile devices such as iPad, Android and Blackberry.  Check out all the cool features TeuxDeux has to offer here.

Tim and Beck: Bungle Jungle

Rebecca McAllister describes her life as “right at the point of change.” And she’s not kidding. In just over two years she’s moved from Utah to California, changed the focus of Tim and Beck, the design business she shares with her husband Tim, and moved again. “It’s been an adventure, to say the least,” says Rebecca.

Part of the adventure is designing for Moda. Bungle Jungle, their new line of fabric, features kid-centric critters and cheery polka dots, plaids, and scribbles in contemporary colors.  “I’m so excited to see our designs in fabric,” says Rebecca. “My favorite part is finding out what people will do with it.”

Rebecca is familiar with seeing her work spur creativity. Nine years ago she and Tim started Sassafras, a line of scrapbooking and crafting paper goods. “Originally we thought it would be one of those ‘mom-work-from-home-creative-outlet’ jobs,” laughs Rebecca. “At the beginning it was just Tim and I in a little room in our house, but at its peak we had 14 employees.” They found themselves pouring time and energy into managing the logistics of their business and as their family grew (they have two daughters, ages 5 and 7) they longed for a slower pace, as well as an opportunity to return to their designing roots. 

A visit with Rebecca’s brother in California convinced them it was the place to start over, and two-and-a-half years ago they moved to the coast. Just this week they’re moving into a new home where they’ll turn one room into the Tim and Beck design studio. 

“We’ve worked literally side-by-side for the last 9 years,” says Rebecca. “When I tell people that, half of them say ‘That sounds like so much fun’ and the other half say ‘I could never do that!’” One couple who understands the 24/7 aspect of working, living, and parenting together are their good friends and Moda designers, Eric and Julie Comstock of Cosmo Cricket. “It’s not very often in life you get to meet people you can relate to on so many levels,” says Rebecca. “When we get together it’s like a therapy session!”

When they’re not working, Tim, Rebecca, and their daughters love exploring their new home state. A favorite place to hang is the beach, where Tim enjoys surfing and Rebecca and the girls just like to chill. Rebecca’s also looking forward to co-designing some projects for their new home. “We want to make a chandelier out of mason jars,” she says. “I’m hoping in our next stage of life we’ll be making creative, fun things we can use.”

Might one of those things be something stitched with Bungle Jungle? Rebecca admits she’s never made a quilt. “But this might be just the time to learn,” she says. “I’m so excited to try.” 

A "Charm"ing Baby Shower

new diy onesie party
This past weekend I had the pleasure of throwing my best friend a shower for her first baby girl!
I wanted to make it really special so I decided to have everyone make a onesie for baby Liv.
I was a little nervous as to how it would turn out since most of the guests were non-quilters/crafters but it turned out to be absolutely wonderful!
This would be a great event to host in your quilt shop or home.
The whole set-up was very quick & easy!
set up
I briefly explained how to do it and the girls were off!
The onesies turned out better than I could have ever expected and we all had so much fun!
Group Onesies
Onesies on a Line
Moda DIY design party Appliques
  1. OUTFITS & ACCESSORIES – get an assortment of onesies, shirts, jackets, bloomers, bibs, swaddle cloths, burp cloths and any other accessories you can think of to decorate.
    Make sure to get a variety of colors/patterns/sizes. This makes it more FUN! 🙂
  2. FABRIC…Moda Charm Packs or Moda Layer Cakes– a variety makes it more fun and personalized.  Because onesies are so small, Moda Charm Packs are the PERFECT pre-cut for this project! You can also throw in some scraps.
  3. HeatNBond FUSIBLE PAPER (I prefer the UltraBond – especially if you will not be stitching down the edges.)
  4. FABRIC SCISSORSKaren Kay Buckley “Perfect Scissors” work great because of the serrated edge. I used both the large and small size. The large for bigger pieces and the small for intricate letters or shapes. If you are hosting a large party have several pairs of scissors or it will slow the process down ALOT. I also brought my Elan set- also a large pair and small pair. It is important to use fabric scissors or the fabric will fray on the edges leaving it looking cheap and used.
  5. IRONING BOARD Steady Betty Pressing Surface. Only having one ironing board, the Steady Betty was a great addition because it allowed for multiple people to press at one time. And we were able to put the Steady Betty directly on the counter because it is so small and light.
  6. IRON-– I love my Oliso iron but any iron will do.
  7. PENS/SHARPIES– to draw/trace designs onto your fusible. Make sure to trace your design backwards (mirror image) so they will come out correct on the front side of the fabric.
  8. DESIGNS- Print off our free set of designs or draw your own! Here are some you can purchase if you want a variety.
  9. STORAGE- ArtBin– I got the Double Deep ArtBin storage container which held all of my goodies perfectly! Loved having everything together in one place.
INSPIRATION – Show everyone the designs to get their brains thinking! Then have your guests choose a onesie, shirt or accessory & coordinating fabrics. Teams make this more fun & go faster!

TRACE DESIGN or DRAW design on the SMOOTH side of the HeatNBond (or fusible of your choice).Jess tracing

NOTE: Designs must be traced or drawn backwards (mirror image) onto the HeatNBond so when you transfer to the WRONG side of the fabric and eventually cut it out it will come out the correct direction.
**My designs have already been printed backwards and are ready to trace without flipping. But those who may decide to draw their own design must reverse their design.

Trace Backwards

CUT design out of HeatNBond leaving about 1/4” – 1/2” around the design.
IRON the STICKY SIDE of the design onto the WRONG side of your fabric and press for about 8-10 seconds. Just enough to get the stickum to adhere to the fabric.
TEST by using your finger nail to pull back a corner of the HeatNBond to see if the stickum has transferred from the Paper to the Fabric. If not, press a bit more. The paper should just peel off and not bring any stickum with it.

CUT the DESIGN out exactly on the line you drew.
PEEL back the HeatNBond paper from the fabric leaving the stickum on the WRONG side of your fabric.

POSITION your design where you like on your onesie, shirt or accessory of choice.
IRON – Once you have it exactly where you like, IRON that baby down!
If you are layering, press one layer at a time. Repeat steps until your whole design is done!

SHOW OFF your finished piece and give your “made with love” design to the Mama-to-be!

*Once the party is over you can take the onesies home and stitch the designs down by hand or
machine. I personally use blanket stitch on my machine.
This is not required but will make it last MUCH longer especially when laundered.

K R Jess
I hope you have as much fun making onesies as we did!
Liv Baby
Baby Liv is now 2 years old and expecting a little brother! See more pics of the BIG SIS on this post!
Download this FREE PDF to have your own party and make your own clothes!
PDF Moda Applique
 For more printables 

Hop over to our new DIY Design Party to learn how to use Iron On Transfers to decorate your onesies, outfits & accessories!
Moda DIY design partyTransfers
completed designs
What will you make with these designs?!