The winner of Plant Your Own Garden is No. 6, Char! Congratulations, and have fun putting the techniques into your appliqué bag of tricks!

At Quiltfest Oasis in Palm Springs over the weekend, there was a special exhibit of quilts made by members of the Baltimore Appliqué Society. In the booth one day I struck up a lovely conversation with a fellow appliqué enthusiast, who told me she had followed her quilt to California all the way from Maryland. Kelly Kout, I enjoyed talking with you!!

Here’s Kelly’s quilt, “Flowers for Jean,” designed by Lori Smith.

That is one gorgeous, amazing, handcrafted masterpiece.

Next week… the fabulous Pacific International Quilt Festival!

By Kay Mackenzie

I don’t know about you, but from time to time I like to drop in on the thrift shop to peruse the shelves. You never know when you’re going to find something wonderful that makes you happy.

A couple days ago I was moseying through the store, when something caught my quilter’s eye.

It was in my hands in about a second flat, and I thought to myself, “I wonder if whoever made this knew what it was.”

I turned it over, and yes, they did.

It’s a Milky Way Baltimore Album Quilt Limited Edition Canister from 1997.

How very cool that I happened into the shop that day! Needless to say, it came home with me. I was prepared to pay the tagged price of $1.49, but discovered upon checking out that it was 50% off, so it was 75¢!

The back says, “This limited edition canister celebrates the making of classic appliquéd quilts during the mid-nineteenth century in America. The Baltimore Album appliquéd quilts were known for their decorative Victorian design style.

“Each pattern on the quilt was symbolic. The corner pattern on this canister is ‘fleur de lis,’ representing Light, Life, and Power.”


Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

In 1983, appliqué icon Elly Sienkiewicz published a little square 12½” book with a red cover entitled Spoken Without a Word.

The photo-less, 68-page black-and-white book, which brought Baltimore Album block patterns and an infectious theory about symbolism to the modern quilter, quickly went through five printings and arguably served as a catalyst for the Baltimore revival that is still going strong. Today, copies of the original “Red Book” can be found listed on the internet for hundreds of dollars.

Exciting news! A little bird told me that Elly is preparing a new edition of this important classic! Spoken Without a Word: A Lexicon of Symbols with 24 Faithfully Reproduced Patterns from Classic Baltimore Quilts, 30th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, is coming out this fall!

The original book’s signature red color is threaded throughout the black-and-white engraving-like details of the new edition, now revised and reformatted to 8½’ x 11″ and 128 pages. The familiar original text remains intact, and the patterns remain untouched. What’s new and additional are glorious photos of newly made blocks, settings, and wall quilts, and a new foreword and afterword from Elly.

The new edition is available for pre-order on Elly’s website, Appliqué With Elly.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

Happy April! No fooling here at All About Appliqué. :)

Last month, when we looked at
Baltimore’s County Cousins, I detected the Baltimore longing in many of the comments.

I’ve always wanted to do a Baltimore Album but frankly they do intimidate me.

I love applique but I’m not up for the more complicated patterns, yet.

I’m just now deciding that I can actually do some of this…

A Baltimore is on my bucket list…

Haven’t done a Baltimore quilt yet, but would love to.

Oh! I love baltimore album quilts but have never made one.

One of the things that has kept me from making my own Baltimore album quilt is the feeling that I need to wear formal attire!

These wistful reflections made it clear which book I needed to pull out of the cupboard next. May I present, courtesy of Martingale, Mimi Dietrich’s Baltimore Blocks for Beginners.

Subtitled “A Step-by-Step Guide,” this book is designed to to be a gentle and compelling introduction to the Baltimore genre that will get you started on your way at last!

Mimi, who lives in Baltimore, has been teaching Baltimore Album appliqué classes for over 30 years. Her most basic class is called, “My First Baltimore Block,” and this book is that class! It will take you slowly through all the techniques and elements of a basic block.

Rose wreath design.

There’s also a circle wreath and a crossed leaves design, as well as a gallery of different colorways to provide inspiration.

I love what Mimi says in the introduction: “There are many techniques, tools, and patterns for appliqué. All of these are correct, as long as you are comfortable and pleased with the results.” Yes! That’s what I believe too. Mimi presents her own favorite methods for successful beginnings.

The information covers fabrics, appliqué supplies, preparing the pattern and templates, cutting and preparing the shapes, and illustrated information on hand-appliqué stitch techniques, followed by step-by-step instructions for making your first Baltimore Album block.

Are you starting to feel like you can do it? You can!!!

If you’d like to win this book, please leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Friday, April 5.

Contest open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Do not click “reply” to your email feed. That will only send me an email and not enter you in the draw. Click over to the blog on the internet and leave your comment at the bottom of the post.

Good luck!
Until then,
By Kay Mackenzie

I’ve been waiting and waiting for this one to come out!


Our featured book this month is Barbara Burnham’s Baltimore Garden Quilt from AQS Publishing.

My maiden name is Burnham so I’ve often wondered if Barbara and I are long-lost cousins. After all, Burnham is a good old “up east” name (my dad is from Massachussetts) and Barbara is a charter member of the Baltimore Appliqué Society, but alas we still haven’t figured that out LOL.

Today I’m turning the blog over to Barbara to tell us all about her stellar new book. It’s quite something!

Barbara M. Burnham, author:

“My dear husband thought I was crazy to buy that old worn quilt I found in 1999. “But it really does have potential,” I told him. “Try to imagine that quilt as it looked in 1848 when it was made.”

M.E.C. 1848

M.E.C. 1848

“So he smiled and said “Whatever you want, dear.” (Love that!) I wanted to reproduce the quilt and make those designs come alive again. When the quilt arrived, we had fun looking over all the appliqué, some completely gone from age and wear, and dense quilting with florals in between all the appliqué. This is the quilt that became the new “Baltimore Garden Quilt.”

M.E.C. Remembered

M.E.C. Remembered

“Flowers on the antique quilt had been stitched on one petal at a time –- one flower had almost 50 petals! But I devised a method of appliqué to do those flowers in layered sections. Over the next ten years, I traced the designs and appliquéd the blocks. (Not that I’m so slow, but also working a full-time job). Meanwhile, my friends at the Baltimore Appliqué Society cheered me on to publish the patterns.

I kept a journal noting techniques, drawings, problems, and solutions. I wondered what the original quilter might have been thinking about her world in 1848, and what she grew in her garden to inspire these flowers. Techniques on her quilt include buttonhole stitching, woven baskets, embroidery, inked signatures, and tiny cross stitched initials.

Those techniques and more are described in my book using today’s tools and methods. The companion CD includes all the patterns for appliqué blocks, border swags with 40 florettes, quilting designs, alternate sets, and an 1848-era cross stitch alphabet.

Finally, I must give credit to my friend, Marty Vint of Dogwood Quilting, for her masterful machine quilting of all the original designs from the antique quilt. The Baltimore Garden Quilt, or “M.E.C. Remembered,” will be displayed in the Author’s Row exhibit at the American Quilter’s Society shows in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Paducah, Kentucky.”

I asked Barbara to tell us more about the intriguing topic of her appliqué methods.

Barbara: “My favorite method for hand appliqué is freezer-paper-on-top with needleturn (blind stitch). I leave the freezer paper on until the piece is stitched. I don’t mark the applique fabric or background. But this quilt required a LOT of techniques! All my techniques are in this book, plus:

• A new technique for creating symmetrical multi-layered flowers
• No-mark placement
• Buttonhole (blanket stitch) and iron-on fusibles
• Reverse applique
• Embroidery stitches
• Several ways to make a woven basket
• Bias stems
• Tricks for handling small pieces like berries and bird’s eyes
• Back-basting on the sewing machine
• How to trace designs from an antique quilt
• How to find just the right fabrics, including Turkey Red
• All the quilting patterns that appear between the applique
• How-to’s for adapting quilting motifs for your quilt
• Marking quilting motifs
• How to assemble the quilt (joining blocks, joining borders and adding corner swags)
• Backing and batting, basting the “quilt sandwich”
• Quilting by hand or machine
• Preparing your quilt for machine quilting
• Binding
• Signing and dating your work, ideas for labels

Included Patterns:

• Twenty-five 15-inch appliqué blocks
• Border Double Swags and 40 Small Florettes to join them
• Quilting Motifs from the antique quilt
• Alternate Set for arranging the blocks
• Cross Stitch Alphabet from 1848

Here’s who will enjoy this book:

• People who enjoy or collect antique quilts and patterns; Baltimore style quilts, red-and-green quilts, appliqué quilts and antique quilting patterns.
• Beginning appliquérs who could learn techniques with a simple tulip block.
• Advanced appliquérs who will enjoy the more challenging and complex designs and techniques, or modify them for their own quilts.
• Quilters searching for unique border designs and ideas.

I do hope you enjoy the book!”

Thank you, Barbara! All I can say, is WOW. I mean WOW. How much more could an appliqué enthusiast ask for??

Courtesy of the publisher, I have a copy of Baltimore Album Quilt to give away to a lucky reader. To enter the drawing, leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Sunday, March 11.

The fine print: Contest open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Do not reply to your email feed; instead, click over to the blog itself and leave your comment at the bottom of the post. Good luck!

Until then,
By Kay Mackenzie

Congratulations to Kathleen Connors, the winner of Flowers All Around! Kathleen, enjoy the book! My thanks to everyone who entered the drawing. I appreciate you reading my blog and being a fellow appliqué enthusiast.

Over at The Quilt Show‘s Daily Blog, they’ve posted a slide show of a beautiful Baltimore Album exhibit that was displayed at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last fall.

The exhibit was entitled “Baltimore Album Review II: Baltimore’s Daughters — Friends Stitch Past to Future.” According to the blog post, the quilts are “some of the finest examples of the Baltimore Album Quilt revivalist movement and include many from the collection of Baltimore expert/artist/curator Elly Sienkiewicz.”

The slide show is available for viewing to all… you don’t have to be a member of The Quilt Show. The link is below. Enjoy!

Baltimore Album Review II

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

I got an email newsletter from Hancock’s of Paducah that had a link to a fabric line called Baltimore Album by Mary Koval. Of course I had to go and check that out!

This is a beautiful set of fabrics for the appliqué enthusiast! There’s a gorgeous printed panel and a whole range of fabrics that are perfect for this type of project.

wf31662xOn the Hancock’s of Paducah website, if you click on the panel fabric, there’s a free download pattern by Mary Koval. Very cool!

Until next time,
(patchy project nearing completion),
By Kay Mackenzie

Have I got a good one to show you this time! It’s Mimi Dietrich’s classic, Baltimore Basics: Album Quilts from Start to Finish.

baltimore-basicsWhat a delight for the appliqué enthusiast! Mimi, a Baltimore native and lifelong resident, is an authority on this amazing quilt form that has hooked so many of us on appliqué.

Mimi begins by presenting food for thought in planning your quilt, considering options, making decisions, and getting organized. This is not your quick-and-easy type o’ deal. These are more like thoughtful, measured, long-range projects that you should enjoy all along the way.

Next comes a great idea — printed layout mockups! You can photocopy the block thumbnails, cut them apart, and try them out in several pre-printed arrangements to see what you like best. Very cool.

Then there’s a whole beautiful section giving fabric yardage and cutting instructions for a wide variety of sizes and settings. Mimi really helps you design your own quilt.

After giving information on fabrics and supplies, Mimi takes you step-by-step through several methods of preparation for hand appliqué. She encourages you to try them all to see which is your favorite. Then comes detailed information on hand stitching, plus sections on the stems, circles, baskets, and bows that we see so commonly in Baltimore Album. Since Mimi also knows dimensional appliqué, she throws in folded rosebuds and ruched flowers.

Then, of course, there are the 12 beautiful block patterns reminiscent of old, each one accompanied by a color photo of the stitched design.


The book ends with how to sew your blocks together, how to make appliquéd borders, and quilting and finishing your big or little masterpiece.


Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

Last summer I wrote about Baltimore on the Prairie.

This just in from appliqué designer and teacher Kathy Delaney. Registration is still open!

Kathy: Hey Applique Fans! Have you heard about the new conference to be held this fall in Nebraska, halfway between Omaha and Lincoln (centrally located for all!) called Baltimore on the Prairie? This is a conference for appliqué lovers everywhere (we even have someone coming from Australia!) and centers on the Baltimore style of appliqué from the 1840s and 50s. (Have you ever wished for a Baltimore style appliqué conference closer to you than the East Coast? This is IT!)

Are you fairly new to appliqué or intimidated by what the “big girls” are doing? You don’t have to be! The Baltimore on the Prairie conference has something for all levels of applique enthusiast — from the beginner to the most accomplished. AND the price is extremely right! What better way to learn a new technique or practice what you already know than to spend from Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon with a knowledgeable and talented teacher!

This year there are only openings for 100 students and spaces are filling quickly. Check out the Baltimore on the Prairie website for information, registration forms, and class samples.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

The Baltimore Appliqué Society

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If you’re interested in Baltimore Album type appliqué, then you should visit the website of The Baltimore Appliqué Society. Check out each of the links on the left-hand side of their home page… they’ll take you to photos of exquisite quilts that have great historical significance, and patterns that members of the Society have made for them. Enjoy!

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

The Quilt Show posts Elly Sienkiewicz slides

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I’m a member of The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, described by them as “The World’s First Interactive Video / Web Magazine and Worldwide Online Community for Quilters.” They send me email updates a couple time a week. Their latest one announces an upcoming program with venerated appliqué artist Elly Sienkiewicz.

Even if you’re not a member, you can click on the “Slideshows” tab at the top of the home page and view behind-the-scenes photos taken during taping by Photo Man Gregory Case. And you’ll enjoy some gorgeous Elly appliqué eye candy!

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

One of my appliqué idols, Jeana Kimball, has written a very thoughtful piece on traditional hand appliqué in today’s quilt-show climate. Jeana’s website is Jeana Kimball’s Foxglove Cottage (be sure to check out her books and patterns) and here’s the link to the article on her Sewing Room blog.

My booth at the Tokay Stitch ‘n Quilt Guild’s show the first weekend in November was situated so that I had a lovely view of a Baltimore Album quilt, just down the aisle a bit. Of course I was drawn to it with strong magnetic force. I was so tickled and touched when I read Thelma Welch’s description:

“To me appliqué has always been the most intriguing part of the quilting craft. When a Baltimore Album class was offered in 1992 I signed on. All 20 blocks were completed years ago and put together with sashing from Smithsonian Baltimore Album 1850 reproduction fabric. Due to indecision about what border to use, as well as some burnout and a desire to do other projects, it was put away for many years. Finally, at the urging of my daughter, I designed a border and began hand quilting in January, finishing in July 2008.”

I’ll let you look at the quilt now and then tell you the final sentence. :)


“Since reaching the age of 83 I like to say it was on my Bucket List.”

OMG! The woman was 67 when she signed up for a BA class and 83 when she designed the beautiful border and hand quilted the whole thing! You go girl!

I flagged down the president of the Tokay guild and asked her to send Thelma my way if she was at the show that day. A little while later, Thelma showed up, dressed in a fetching black and white outfit with pearls (as all the guild members in honor of their 25th anniversary) and some really cool tennies, proud as punch of her quilt, and when I made my request she seemed very pleased at the prospect of having her quilt up on a blog, especially since now her friends and relatives back east would be able to see it.

The blocks are “mostly Elly” with a few Thelma touches thrown in. For instance, a cow in one of the blocks was swapped out for a cat. She changed flowers here and added a bird there. The cutest thing Thelma pointed out was the variation in the peacock’s tail… “It was before we had the shaded fabric,” she told me with a chuckle, “so that’s the Clorox.”

Here are a couple of the gorgeous blocks. Whew, I sure hope I’m as spry, gracious, and productive as Thelma when I’m 83!




Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Before Elly’s lecture began (see the November 6 post), I was looking around the shop when I heard my name called. I turned around and, happy day! it was the podcaster extraordinaire Annie Smith, whom I hardly ever get to see due to her incredibly active traveling, teaching, and speaking schedule.

Annie was teaching a class next door to our lecture and had just a minute before her class was going to start. “Did you see my coat at PIQF?” she asked me with excitement. I had to confess that although I had admired the garments, I missed entirely the fact that one of them was hers and also that the special exhibit “Off the Bed — On the Back” had been curated by one of my own guild members, Rachel Clark.

Annie sent me pictures of the coat and the accompanying quilt, along with the story of how they were made (which reads a little like The Perils of Pauline). Here’s the sometimes harrowing account:

“Rachel asked me to be a part of the exhibit when she saw my West of Baltimore quilt.

Each of the pieces in the exhibit was to be a specific technique of quilt making, (i.e.: log cabin, paper piecing, Hawaiian quilting, Baltimore appliqué — which was mine).


My quilter, Melodee Wade, quilted each of the coat pieces first, then the appliqué was designed and stitched to the coat. The hard part was that I was working like crazy to get the coat finished and Rachel asked me what the name of my quilt was.


Oh yeah, I remember now… after a conversation LAST October…. little quilts, the quilt design is put on the coat… yeah, right. So I stopped working on the coat design — I was having quilter’s block anyway after being seized with ultimate stress of doing a quilt too — and began the quilt. The vase in the center of the quilt is on the back of the coat, and then I wanted to do some simple vines for the border. Or at least, what I thought was simple. I have to remember that the quilt will always tell you what it wants, and the quilt just grew on my design wall. I knew when to stop and that it was perfect — when I added all of the little yellow dots as detail.

My friend Aneda Phillips, who made the West of Baltimore pattern cover quilt, stitched all of the appliqué while I went back to finishing the coat. When she returned the pieces of the quilt so I could assemble it, I mis-cut the center [Ed. note: GASP] and had to make another one from scratch and do all of the stitching on it, as Aneda was finishing up her quilts for her Market booth.


Then back to the coat. It had to be done in panels, appliqué then sew the seams together, then connect the design. The hardest part was the two flowers that are on the side seams of the coat. At that point, the coat was wearing me while I stitched them down! I do fusible, fine machine appliqué where I use a tiny blanket stitch and match all of the threads to the appliqué fabrics. There is some hand embroidery on the quilt and coat. I even made covered buttons with little appliqué flowers on them.

The name of the quilt is “Midnight in the Garden” and the coat is “A Rose Tree in a Baltimore Garden”. A Rose Tree is a traditional Baltimore appliqué pattern which I used for the shawl collar of the coat.


The appliqué fabrics and coat lining were generously donated by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I used Peggy Toole’s “Florentine II” fabric as the lining and focus fabric for all of the appliqué. You can a little bit of the gorgeous lining fabric in the front collar picture. The fabric is amazing.

All in all, I worked on the quilt and coat for three weeks, 12 to 18 hours a day to get it done in time for PIQF. And then, I didn’t even get to attend the show, as I was teaching in Canada!

Melodee is an incredible quilter. I just gave her the pieces and let her do her thing. She did some neat swirled feathers in places that aren’t covered by appliqué — and that’s the thing, she had no idea where the appliqué was going. She just quilted as if they were separate whole cloth quilts. I was amazed when I sewed the panels together — the quilting from one dovetailed into the other and in some places it’s hard to see the seam line. I know that it was totally random, but I love when magic happens like that.

I use Melodee exclusively to do the quilting for me. She always enhances everything I do, making my pieces better. Mel does it all free-motion on a non-computerized Gammill.”

Kay here… I’ll add that in addition to her quilting talents, Melodee is one of the nicest, most gracious people you could ever hope to meet. Her contact is if you’re interested in contacting her for your longarm quilting needs.

On her latest podcast,(11/10/08), Annie tells more about the creation of the coat and jacket, describing how they grew on her design wall and what a wonderful experience it was for her to let go and let that happen. Go give a listen, and you’ll also hear a hilarious story of how dedicated a quilter can be when it comes to acquiring an industrial Bernina for $100.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

I met Elly!

Last night, fellow appliqué fan Brenda and I drove ‘over the hill’ to Sunnyvale to Eddie’s Quilting Bee for a slide lecture by Elly Sienkiewicz. The title was “What’s This Fascination with Baltimore Album Quilts?”

We got there a mite early, with just enough time to do a little shopping at Eddie’s, then it was upstairs to the meeting room to sup on a tasty light dinner and sip some wine. At 7:15, Eddie introduced Elly, who turned on the slide projector, and POP! the bulb broke. The replacement bulb didn’t fit, so…. no slides. Elly didn’t miss a beat, and just started talking to us about the BA era, about 1843 to 1856, and her research into the many symbols that recur both in the blocks and, curiously, on gravestones. She told us that the women of the time were fluent in the language of symbols, something that has slipped away from us in present times. There were many associations with Methodism, the Masons, and the Oddfellows.

kayelly.gifThough we missed seeing her slides, the subject was fascinating and it was just so cool to finally meet this grande dame of appliqué.

She is one of the nicest ladies you could hope to meet, and has done so much for us quilters in the realm of qppliqué.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

American Quilter celebrates appliqué

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The November 2008 issue of American Quilter magazine, put out by the American Quilters Society, features “Appliqué Your Way” … yay!

Faye Labanaris contributes an article with photo tutorials for four different kinds of needleturn hand appliqué. Suzanne Marshall shares her method for creating bias stems. And Ann Holmes shows how she constructs her pieces for machine appliqué, in which “there’s no sewing until you quilt it.”

Not only is this issue full of great appliqué information, there’s a bagful of eye candy in the form of the winners of the recent Nashville show. Best of Show and Best Hand Workmanship Award both went to Baltimore Album-style quilts :).

The celebration continues in the next issue with Jeana Kimball’s back-basting technique. Jeana is one of my all-time favorite appliqué idols and I can’t wait to see this article.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Great article on Baltimore Album history

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The International Quilt Association puts out a quarterly journal for its members. In the latest issue there’s a fabulous article by Rhianna White called Quilting 101: Baltimore Album Quilts.

It’s a great lesson in the origin and history of the popular appliqué art form, and if you’re interested in the history of appliqué you’ll love this article. Renowned experts Elly Sienkiewicz and Mimi Dietrich contribute to the information.

Very generously, the IQA puts this journal up on its website in pdf form for all to download and enjoy. Go to, click to enter, then look in the left sidebar for “IQA Journal.”

Until next time,

Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs