Thursday, November 19, 2015

Post-Houston and Pre-Holidays

Yes, we survived International Quilt Market and Festival and now we are both getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Can't believe the year has gone by so quickly!!

I'm sure many of you have already heard about the "challenges" we all faced at Market and Festival this year - possible hurricane, flooded streets in and around Houston, bad weather all around us and the street and front of the George R. Brown Convention Center totally under construction - at times it seemed like a nightmare!  But when all is said and done, we fared quite well.  Our latest quilts and Block of the Month were well-received and the book was a huge success. I did manage to take a couple of pictures of the Market booth (it didn't change much for Festival) and I will share the picture of our fans waiting on line for our book signing.  Now that was really exciting!!!

This picture with the ladies waiting for the book signing makes me smile - my new BFF is there, our friends from Australia (hi Karen and Linda), and Jeanne from SupplyLine!  This was a great group of ladies and we enjoyed visiting with them while we waited for the "official" book signing time!  Pati (from Marcus Fabrics) even took some pictures as we signed the books.  That's Michelle Joyner from Fat Quarters Quilt Shop in Vista, CA in the first picture and my new BFF in the second picture. Marcus Fabrics hosted our book signing and all in all it was pretty exciting!  We even bought new pens for it!!

Paula has been working to get all of our Market orders out and to get all of the new patterns and kits on the website.  Now is your chance to purchase these great new patterns and the kits.  Remember our kits feature the same fabrics that you see in the quilt sample.  Click on the quilt name for a link directly to our website for ordering.

Paula had a number of new collections with Marcus Fabrics out this year for both Spring and Fall Market, so let's start with the newest collections and quilts:
Laura's Quilt features her Carolina Blues collections - yummy blues and yellows - and measures 76"x102". This may be my personal favorite!

Banks' Retreat is made from the Heritage Reds collection and it measures 92"x92".  Who doesn't love a red and white quilt!

Wilderness Road is this year's scrappy quilt (72"x84") and it's just gorgeous too!

Gettysburg is a re-do quilt and this time it features some of the fabrics from the Latimer Farms collection.  Great alternative for those of you that love the Latimer Farms fabric, but don't want to tackle a Block of the Month program.
Pemberton is a smaller quilt and it features reds, blacks and caramels from some of Paula's previous collections.

Davenport features the golds, purples and blacks of the Davenport Gardens collection.  While actually a Spring Market quilt, we finally have the kits!! This could be tied for my favorite quilt.

Latimer Farms BOM - 101"x101"
We have also decided to sell complete kits for our Latimer Farms BOM.  Right now we are just taking pre-orders, but here are the details:
    - complete kit - quilt top and binding
    - $350 with free shipping (If purchased monthly, it would be about $28.00/month plus shipping)
    - January 2016 shipping
    - 108" wide backing available
If you are interested, please email me at:  with your name and phone number.  I will contact you prior to shipping for your address and credit card information.

I thought I would share our picture with the biggest book cover I've ever seen.  This was hanging at the Schoolhouse session we did with Martingale Publishing at Market and then in the Martingale Publishing booth.

As I read other blogs, Facebook and Instagram I see that many of you are fully enjoying Fall and many even the beginning of Winter.  Florida has had some record warm temperatures for November, but I'll be heading to upstate NY for Thanksgiving.  I'm looking forward to some good family time with my son, daughter-in-law, granddaughters and youngest daughter and apparently some much cooler weather!  I visited my oldest daughter in Louisville right after Festival and got to enjoy some of my favorite foods: duck fat popcorn, queso and margaritas, and garlic butter bread sticks!  I even tailgated at the U of L/Syracuse football game at the coolest tailgate bus I've ever seen.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and until next time,

Happy quilting,
Mary Ellen and Paula

Friday, October 16, 2015


I just took a moment to cruise through and read the comments that were left on Marcus Mentions (Marcus Fabrics blog) and Stitch This (Martingale Publishing blog) about our new book, Tributes and Treasures, and all I can say is THANK YOU!!!  If it was up to me, everyone would win a book and a fabric bundle.  Your comments were all so kind and complimentary.  If you are looking for us at Festival, we'll be the ones with the swelled heads!! I often have to stop and pinch myself because I can't believe that we reached a point in this business where we were asked to write a book AND that people want to own it!!! Thank you again and if you are attending International Quilt Market or Festival, we are booth #1033 - stop by and say hello.

My plan for this post was to share pictures from our Camp Blanding retreat in September.  Paula and I had a great time - 5 days of good friends, good food and good fabric!!  There are usually 100+ ladies in attendance and they are grouped by friendship - bees, guilds, neighbors, family, etc - and it's great to walk around and see what everyone is creating and eating!  We have a great group that we sit with and they were very productive this time.  This is also the same group that we do our yearly exchanges with and some of the girls have even finished some of the exchange quilts (personally that's a topic I don't care to discuss, but some day I will join this group!!)

Diane and Wynette are both on a roll with the exchange quilts (we're just exchanged our 3rd set of blocks).  Diane shared her Snowball quilt that she worked on between our August and September retreats.  AND then she went ahead and put together her Churn Dash quilt at this retreat.  There are a lot of the Churn Dash quilts completed, so I went ahead and added that to my post-Market list of personal sewing items!
Diane's Snowball quilt

Diane's Churn Dash - just needs borders now!
Wynette had already completed her Snowball quilt and may even be part of the group with a Churn Dash quilt, but this time she has outdone herself.  We exchanged our Star Blocks on Saturday night and she had her top put together by the next weekend!! Way to go Wynette!! This weekend she finished up her Glory Bound quilt from our cruise.  Wynette loves a big quilt, so she added 3 borders to hers - LOVE IT!!
Wynette's Star Block exchange quilt. Love it on point!!

Wynette's Glory Bound with borders

Ronda drove over with Paula from Texas and she was a busy girl.  She brings lots of projects and gets a lot done on them.  The only picture I was able to get was of her 1930's Arkansas Crossroads.  This was an exchange group from Texas.  

You get to see a lot just sitting in your spot and I watched as Diane F. finished up these great Fall houses and campers. A lot of work went into these blocks!

Gloria's daughter Heather creates these beautiful mohair and painted fabric animals. I could sit and watch her for hours.  She designs the animals herself and then cuts, sew, stuffs, and accessorizes each one. She was making owls, foxes, baby chicks and corn this weekend and I just had to have one of her owls.  She names all of the animals, but I knew this little guy had to be called Hootie.  I'm still looking for the Blowfish!!

Can you find Hootie watching over me on my return trip?

It seems September is a good time for retreats.  Debbie from Texas finished her version of Bonnie Blue at a retreat. She started the quilt at a workshop Paula taught for the West Houston Quilt Guild.  It's always so nice to see someone else's  interpretation of our patterns.  Great job, Debbie.  If you look carefully in the bottom left hand corner of the picture, I think you can see another Bonnie Blue in the works.

The Latimer Farms shop kits have been shipped to local quilt stores and hopefully you should start seeing blocks and/or the actual quilt appearing in a shop near you soon.  Marcus Fabrics had a great ad for Latimer Farms in the Dec 2015 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.  It's always a little shocking to turn the pages of a magazine and all of a sudden see a picture of yourself!  I remember when this one was taken  - I made sure my hair was looking good, I had on makeup and nice clothes!!!

We're wrapping up the last few things for Market.  The quilts are all done and currently enjoying their glamour shots.  These will be used on our pattern covers and in our brochure. I fly to Houston on Tuesday and help with any last minute kit preparation and then it's off to downtown Houston and set up in the George R Brown Convention Center on Thursday!!  I will post one last time before Market and Festival with pictures of our new quilts and kits.  They will all be added to our website after Festival.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Friday, October 9, 2015

Tributes and Treasures

It's been a crazy couple of weeks since retreat.  I'm finally on the last quilt for Market and it will be in the mail to the quilter by tomorrow morning (that's my plan and I'm sticking to it!)!!  All sorts of quilts, quilt tops and other handmade items were finished and shared at retreat and I fully intend to share them, but it's going to have to be in a couple of days.  Right now it's finish this last quilt!!!

Ok, so why am I taking the time to write this post?  Remember in my last post I mentioned that we were going to be the guest bloggers on the Martingale Publishing Co blog?  Well, today is the day!!!  Click on this link and it will take you directly to the blog post: Stitch This!  If you would like to win a bundle of Paula's fabrics (you know you want too!!), leave a comment on the post in Marcus Mentions (Marcus Fabrics blog). We're everywhere today!!!

And just to complete the excitement, Tributes and Treasures is now available on our website!!! (Because we knew we would not be in the same state to sign these books, we signed book plates that Martingale designed for us while we were at retreat and an autographed book plate will be sent with each copy.) The books will be arriving today (thank you UPS) and Paula will begin shipping them out next week.  Why not Saturday?  It's Game Day Kit Cutting again!!  In addition to the books arriving, rumor has it that the fabric for 3 of the new patterns/kits that we will be introducing at Market and Festival will also be arriving - Bank's Retreat (Heritage Reds collection), Laura's Quilt (Carolina Blues collection) and Gettysburg (Latimer Farms collection).  It's going to be a busy day at the Barnes' house.  I just hope that the Georgia Bulldogs can win this weekend - I'm a little uncomfortable with Paula and a rotary cutter if they are losing - just saying!!  Go Dawgs!!! 

We will have autographed copies of Treasures and Tributes available in our booth (#1033) at International Quilt Festival-Houston (October 28-Preview Night and October 29-November 2). Stop by to pick up your copy and check out the new patterns and kits we will have available.

Paula and I would like to thank everyone for all the congratulations and kind words you've given us on our first go as authors.  Talk about a self-esteem booster. Thank you! And from me - a special thank you to my daughter Megan and her fiance Brian for the beautiful flowers they sent on Book Release Day.  You earned "favorite daughter status" on this one, Megan!! LOL!!

And now back to my regularly scheduled program - piecing!! I think I'll stop at JoAnn's on my way home from the Post Office and make sure Tributes and Treasures is at the front of the book rack!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It's Official

It's been a long time coming, but it is now official - we have written our first book (yes, that does mean we plan to do a second)! Tributes and Treasures: 12 Vintage-Inspired Quilts Made with Reproduction Fabrics will be arriving at your local quilt store around October 6th.  We are so excited and honestly can't believe we really did it!!  I have to say it is like giving birth and it was a long pregnancy!!.  We would like to thank the wonderful people at Martingale Publishing for believing in us and helping us through the entire process. We will be the guest bloggers on the Martingale blog on Thursday, October 8th.  I will be sure to share the link when I have it.

We each received our advance copies yesterday and of course, had to take a picture with it!! Isn't that what you do with your first book???  
That's me - looking a little proud!!

Paula and her proud moment!

Our plan is to get it on our website in the next couple of days and you'll be able to pre-order your copy.  We will also have autographed copies in our booth for Festival (#1033).

In the meantime, we've been hard at work getting ready for Market and Festival. I'm working on a new quilt featuring Paula's Heritage Reds and  when it's finished I'll be piecing a re-do of Gettysburg in Latimer Farms.  All are packed and ready to go because this weekend is our retreat at Camp Blanding.  Paula and Ronda are driving in from Texas and I'll be leaving from here tomorrow.  Can't wait!!  Friends, fabric and food = a great weekend. I'll take pictures of the quilts and post when I am back home.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Game Day Plan

It was a big day in the Barnes' household yesterday - day 1 of college football, but most importantly day 1 of SEC football.  These ladies (Paula, her mom, and Paula's daughters) are all avid SEC fans, but particularly Georgia, Alabama and LSU.  Paula wasn't going to sit and watch these games, no she was going to work while the games were on and she planned appropriately.  She set up her cutting table so she could see the TV!!!  I've always said she was a smart woman!

If you look closely at the TV in the picture, you can tell which game she's watching! Yup, that's the Georgia Bulldog.  At first I thought she was watching a dog show!!

The fruits of her cutting efforts are additional kits for our website inventory and Festival, but also a new kit on our website - Union Tents.  The kits include fabric for the top, backing and pattern (template included).  Paula designed this pattern using 10" fabric squares from her Historical Stripes collection.  You will even use these squares for a pieced backing!

Union Tents is the small one draped over the screen. Left-Tanner Legacy, Right-Sherman's March.
Now, I'm not a football fan, so my Game Day Plan involved Tim DeKay and Matt Bomer - yes indeed I am watching all of the past seasons of White Collar on Netflix and I am truly enjoying it!!  I spent the afternoon with some hot men and a new quilt for Fall Market from Paula's new Carolina Blues collection.  I'm about halfway done, so you know what I'll be doing this afternoon - after all, I still have 2 seasons to go!!  Matt Bomer also starred in Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL.  I also have Monday afternoon planned - The Librarians marathon!!!  New season starts November 1st, so I have to catch up!!  Maybe I'll even be working on another new quilt - I have 2 or 3 calling my name!!  After all, it is pre-Market and Festival season!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Life After Retreat

I just love going to retreat! Where else do you get to spend time with your closest friends, doing what you enjoy most - quilting -  not eating - though that is probably second. Paula drove over from Texas with two of our best friends, Cynthia Regone (Cajun Classics) and Ronda Stockton (Pieceful Stitches Quilt Retreat). It was a five day retreat, so we had all sorts of time to chat, sew, eat, sew, chat, eat, repeat! I mostly worked on Latimer Farms blocks, but did finish off one little quilt for Fall Market. There was a lot of jealousy in my section as I watched what some of the other ladies were working on, but then green is a good color for me!!

Some of the group were staying in a house right on the lake, so we enjoyed dinner there one night.  Here's some of the group enjoying a "drink" by the lake, while the rest of the group is preparing dinner - notice I am not in the "preparing dinner group"!!

Vicky finished her version of Crazy Bet. She bought the kit from us many years ago and slowly made her way through the over 200 baskets, but had decided to use the red print in another quilt.  She set her Crazy Bet with cheddar and I just love it.  I tried a few times to slip it into my bag, but she was watching it like a hawk!  

She then moved on to another Red Crinoline Quilts project - Oak Alley - and she was making the 1st version.  She organized herself and made all of her HST's first and then spent some time cutting and tearing off the paper.  Here's her pile of paper and HST's!

Starla worked on a kit that she had purchased at Olde Green Cupboard years ago.  I just love the colors in this one.  Another one I tried to slip in my bag!!

Diane shared her completed Glory Bound - another RCQ favorite that she started on our quilt cruise last June.  I love the addition of the borders and the green inner border just sets the whole quilt.  Great job Diane! Next on her list is the Snowball quilt from our very 1st retreat exchange!

I finished this little Table Runner that will be in our new Fav's #3 for Fall Market.  Now you might recall that I shared blocks from this in my last post, but if you'll look carefully the blocks look a little different.  I made the majority of the quilt and showed it to Paula and it received a no-way - blocks did not have enough contrast.  Fortunately we had some fabric with us (who doesn't go to retreat with "just in case" fabric) and she was able to find a substitute! Viola - new quilt.  It is already being quilted!! Cross that one off my list!!

Once I got back home, it was back to Latimer Farms - piecing and fabric cutting!  430 lbs of fabric arrived for the shop kit and it ended up in one of my guest rooms - the one that ususally looks the prettiest too!!  Here are a couple of pictures of what shop kit preparation can do to a room: Thank heavens I'm not expecting any company for awhile!

My niece's t-shirt quilt arrived when I got back home and I quickly added the binding.  My goal was to get it to her before she left for Clemson AND I DID IT!!! And now I can finally share a picture of the quilt too. Next niece graduates in two years, so I have a little break, but when my nephew graduates three years after that, I will be doing one a year for almost 5 years!!  The younger ones ask if I will make one for them when they graduate and I always answer yes, but it is definitely if God is willing!!

Caitlin's quilt for her new apartment was quilted and brought to me at retreat and Phyllis graciously did the binding for me - THANK YOU PHYLLIS!!!  It's made from the Mixologie collection from Moda and Caitlin loves it.  She's not a girly-girly and Lynn and Cathy quilted it with a nice modern design, nothing too floral for her! Now if I could just get the pillow shams and drapes made too!

I've finished up through month 8 in Latimer Farms blocks, but I thought I would share some more fabrics.  These are fabrics from month 7.

In between Latimer Farms blocks I'm working on quilts for Fall Market.  Paula has a number of new lines coming out, so we're making quilts out of all of them.  I'll share as they become more than just piles of pieces!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen 

PS - I don't know how many of you have checked out Craftsy ("a community of passionate crafters featuring online classes about all your favorite crafts including quilting, sewing & cake decorating.") lately.  They recently added kits for 3 of our quilt patterns.  Each of the kits feature Paula's fabrics that we used in our samples. Check out:
   Davenport, Lizzie's Scrap Bag and Foursquare.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Home Again

Our month of traveling is over.  We arrived home on Monday night and immediately began unpacking and getting settled back in to our routine.  We had a wonderful month, but I was really excited to sleep in my own bed again!

Last week was Grandma/Grandpa Camp with our granddaughters and we had a fabulous time: movies (Minions), boat rides, county fairs (Saratoga County Fair), special lunches (Friendly's, of course) and just time together.  On Tuesday we drove up to Lake George and took a boat ride on the Minne-Ha-Ha - a Robison family tradition.  We even had time for some sewing with grandma and "designing".  I was cutting fabric and both of the girls began playing with the scraps.  I think both of them have some design skill and Paula and I shouldn't have to worry about retirement, the business will be left in very capable hands!! Plus they've got the "cute" factor in their favor!!

Julianne's creation - she said it was a hot air balloon.
Sydney's creation

I did manage to find some sewing time and finished our new version of Sophie.  I also worked on a new Country Day Table Runner.  Right now it is still in the block stage, but I hope to finish it up this weekend.

Tuesday was a big day here - the fabric for the Latimer Farms Block of the Month shop kits arrived - all 430 lbs of it!  Today I began the task of cutting it - month by month.  Caitlin picked up months 1,2,and 3 tonight for folding and labeling! The Marcus Fabrics reps are just starting to bring the Latimer Farms info to your local quilt shops, so watch for information and sign ups very soon.

Now that I have unpacked from our vacation, it's now time to repack for another Camp Blanding quilt retreat.  Everything is lined up at the front door for loading into the car tomorrow morning.  This is a 5 day retreat, so I made sure I have plenty to work on.  At least one of the projects is with one of Paula's newest fabric collections - Carolina Blues.  I got a peck at it today and I can't wait to get my hands on it!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen


Monday, July 20, 2015

Vacation - Phase 3

Our vacation is beginning to wind down.  On Thursday we "transitioned" from Syracuse to Ballston Lake and trust me, that is not an easy move.  Suitcases, sewing machine, sewing table, projects, bicycle, sleeping bag and assorted items all have to be reloaded back into the van and then unloaded (and set up) at the next place. We are now at our son's place and beginning our week with the granddaughters.

Peter finished the ride in Albany on Sunday and other than his fall (rode through a puddle that was actually a 6" deep pothole) on Tuesday (and the resulting 6 stitches in his elbow) all went fine.  This year he decided he would "camp" with the riders at the overnight locations and not worry about staying in hotels like we did last year.  After a couple of nights on an air mattress in a tent he couldn't stand up in, he began to see the benefits of staying in hotels - a good night's sleep!!  We'll have to see what next year brings.  A thank you to the weather gods for providing another year of good riding weather - always a big help to the riders!

While Peter was pedaling his way across NY, I was happily stitching away on the Latimer Farms BOM quilt.  I've finished months 1-3 now.  Sorry I can't share the blocks yet, but here's the fabrics you'll be seeing in months 2 and 3. I also finished the t-shirt quilt for my niece and that is on it's way to Sharon Dixon of Katy T-Shirt Quilts to work her quilting magic. Again, I'll share a picture of it after she has received it.

Now that I'm in Ballston Lake, I have a new set up for my sewing "stuff".  Thank heavens I have understanding family.  I come to visit and then take over part of a room so I can sew!!  In Syracuse I set up in the living room, so I would have a TV right in front of me and in Ballston Lake, I'm in the living room too, but have a different view - nice front yard. And here, I have help - Sydney and Julianne!!
Ballston Lake

I shared the fabrics for a new Sophie quilt in my last post.  I pieced the half-square triangles in Louisville, cut and pressed them in Syracuse and finally put them in the design wall in Ballston Lake.  Sydney helped me with arranging them and then last night they each "sewed" 2 rows!  Trust me, you can't beat help that is this cute!

This week is Grandma/Grandpa Camp and yesterday we planned our "activities" - Minions movie and Cohoes Falls today, Saratoga County Fair and a couple of boat rides later this week.  There's also time in the pool, lunch at Friendly's and just chillin' with Grandma and Grandpa.  I can't wait!!!!  Best week ever!!

We'll be heading back to Florida on  Sunday - 2 loooong days in the car - ugh!!  I have my Over the River embroidery with me and my goal is to finish my first panel - one huge tree left - I can do this!! Oh, and after we get unpacked and settled back in at home, I have to repack for our 5 day retreat at Camp Blanding - YAY!!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen