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!