Sunday, September 23, 2012

Schoharie County Quilt Barn Trail

 Yesterday, September 22, 2012, the Autumnal Equinox, saw the installation of the first Quilt Barn Block in Schoharie County, NY!!  And it is on my barn!  Ginny Schaum started the local edition of the national movement of putting painted 8' x 8' quilt blocks on barns.  I quickly became a committee member (Sharon Aitchison is another committee member) and first volunteer to have a quilt block on a barn.

Because I am a crazy quilter and instructor, I had to have a crazy quilt block.  I have an extensive collection of Victorian crazy quilts and Victorian booklets about crazy quilting and embroidery.  Years ago, enamored of one particular drawn block in a booklet, I had to create it.

 Here is the drawing from the book.

The Victorians assumed you knew how to piece and embroider a block.  (If you don't know how, that's why I give lessons!!)  

This is my interpretation of the block.  All hand pieced and embroidered.
I thought this block would make a terrific Quilt Barn block.
The Schoharie Valley Piecemakers, the quilt guild to which I belong, donated money to purchase the sign-grade plywood.  Bill Schaum, Ginny's husband, put together the framing and plywood and primed it.

 Next, I drew the lines for the patches and started painting.

 Once the patches were painted, the florals and seam treatments were added.

The barn was red with white doors.  That wouldn't go with the new block!  For a few years, discussions had been had about painting the barn plum anyway.  Now seemed like a good time to do it!  So, the doors became Hunter Green and the body of the barn is Canadian Black Raspberry.  Did I mention the house is painted Rose with Wine and Buttercream trim and a Hunter Green roof?  I only got the front and one side done for this year.  Next year, I'll paint the rest!
 Then came installation day.  A tractor and Zach, Bill and Jules made the extremely heavy block and frame go up!
 And I think it looks fabulous!! 

There are already several more Quilt Barn Blocks in various stages in Schoharie County!!  We hope more will join in the fun.  When there are 40 or so barns with the quilt blocks, a pamphlet will be made so you can take a driving tour throughout the county, looking for the wonderful designs.  And maybe stop for a bite to eat along the route, shop, enjoy the gorgeous views and relish the country life. 

Check out SchoharieCounty Quilt Barn Trail on Facebook.  Facebook

My web page is here

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Quilt Barn Trail

The amazing Ginny Schaum has started implementing a Quilt Barn Trail in Schoharie County, NY.  The Quilt Barn Trail is a national movement, started a few years ago, to paint quilt blocks onto 8' x 8' sheets of wood and install them onto barns.  Many states have these trails and you can google Quilt Barn Trail to see the hundreds of wonderful projects.  The idea is to drive the trail and see the quilt blocks and the barns.  This brings an appreciation for rural life to those who drive the trail.

I live in the hamlet of Huntersland, in Schoharie County.  Last August, the area was devastated by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.  Ginny thought starting a trail here would help heal the community.  I agree!  So, the first quilt block in Schoharie County will be installed at my place.
Ginny's husband, Bill, has done a tremendous amount of work in assembling the sign-grade plywood and framing it and priming it, so I could start painting. 

Naturally, I wanted a crazy quilt block.  Had to be!!  I used an antique block design that I had in my collection of Victorian ephemera.  Many years ago, I embroidered (by hand, of course) this quilt block.  See the images above.  I decided this would be a lovely, if somewhat complex, design to paint for the Quilt Barn Trail.  I just finished applying the base coats of paint.  This coming week I will add the floral motifs and seam stitchery in paint.

If you would like to donate to this worthy cause...the wood, paint, framing, etc costs a few hundred dollars per block!  Go to  and message Sharon or Ginny there.  You could also order a mailbox cover to show your support!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Rose - Herb of the Year

Some of this year's rose bounty from my garden: dried rose petals, rose syrup, rose jelly and rose conserve. (Rose glycerine, rose tincture, rose honey and other goodies are also in the making.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The center portion of my crazy quilt, "Crazy Diamonds".

Crazy Quilt and Roses

This is my award-winning crazy quilt, "Crazy Diamonds" in my garden.  That's an Apothecary Rose to the left.  Apothecary roses date back to at least the 14th century and are one of the variety of roses I use in some of my herbal products.  It has a deep fragrance.  The crazy quilt I stitched completely by hand.  All the piecing, embroidery, painting and embellishments (even the sashing) was done by hand. 

Monday, June 11, 2012


Sure, I lost several roses due to flooding from stupid Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.  But, there are many which survived.  Here are some of the roses that are currently blooming in my garden.

Constance Spry, Alchymyst, Paul's Himalayan Musk
Rugosas:  Theres Bugnet, Rubra, Alba
Konigen Von Danemark, Eglantine (leaves smell like green apples!), Mary
Willliam Baffin, unknown, Salet

The apothecary rose hasn't opened yet and there are a few others who will bloom within a few days/weeks.  I do so love roses!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quilt Barn Trail Comes to Schoharie County

 A quilt barn trail is a series of barns showcasing quilt blocks.  The quilt blocks are painted on 8' x 8' wood and attached to a barn.  The idea is to pay homage to both barns and quilts.  Ginny Schaum, quilter supreme, decided it was high time Schoharie County became involved in this movement.  She enlisted me, Betty Pillsbury, and Sharon Aitchison to help out.

It was decided that I would make the first quilt block.  Of course, I chose to do a crazy quilt block!  I have a nice collection of Victorian era booklets which have line drawings of crazy quilt blocks.  In fact, I have put them together into a booklet that I sell.  Here's one below.

Many years ago, I stitched this block.  And this is how it turned out:

This is the design I will be using for my barn quilt.  I will prime the wood and block off the patches.  Members of the Schoharie Valley Quilt Guild (of which I am a member) will come up and paint.  Then, I'll go back and add the seam treatments and floral motifs.  I hope it translates to wood and paint as well as it has to fabric and thread!  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Faux Pearls pattern can now be found on   Look under the embroidery patterns category.  It is 33 pages of photos and instructions for pearl seam work and motifs that add an elegant touch to crazy quilting or other embroidery projects!!  You can also buy this from Maureen Greeson at   You can also buy the pearls from Maureen! 

Best Stitches,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Starting Wednesday, June 13, I'll be teaching another on-line class, Three Antique Motifs.  Go to to sign up.  You will learn to make goldenrod with silk chenille thread, fashion a pansy out of silk dupioni and create a velvet painter's palette with a wired ribbon flower. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

I am honored that Di van Niekerk, embroiderer extraordinaire, author and businesswoman, has featured my needlework on her blog today!  Di does such breathtaking work.  If you have not perused her website, now is the time.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fairies, Full Moon and Lily of the Valley

"Pink choral bells upon a slender stalk
Lilies-of-the-valley line my garden walk
Oh, don't you wish that you could hear them ring?
That will happen only when the fairies sing!"
  Under last night's full moon, I heard the fairy chorus and wee bells ringing!
Here's a piece I did for a friend's baby, Lily.  I used lucite beads for the lily of the valley, with a crystal in the center.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crazy Quilt Classes by Betty Pillsbury

I've got a new on-line class starting June 13!  Three Antique Motifs.  These are motifs from antique crazy quilts that I have used in my multi-award winning quilt, "Crazy Diamonds". 

You will learn to work with silk chenille embroidery thread, fashion a pansy from fabric, stitch a perfect blanket stitch (including corners and curves) and make a wired ribbon flower.  All work is by hand.  These motifs make a stunning addition to your crazy quilt or embroidery portfolio!  You will learn one motif a week.  Go to to register. Click on classes.

Don't forget my "take it anytime" class - Faux Pearls.  Also available at Maureen's.
Hope to see you soon!

Friday, March 30, 2012

CQJP 2012 Crazy Quilt Journal Project

I am participating in the CQJP 2012 project (Crazy Quilt Journal Project). Each month, participants are to make a crazy quilt block. I decided to do paisleys instead of blocks. And, I embroidered a valance from which the paisleys will hang. Here are the January, February and March paisleys. I will probably bead between the paisleys to get them to hang from the valance.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

You Tube Videos

My brother, Chip, came over and helped me record three quick videos on embroidery tips. Click the link above to go to You Tube and see them. One is on getting floss out of a skein without knots and a big mess. The second is stripping floss (getting a single strand out from the six strands). The third is how I end off embroidery threads on the back of my work: tension, knot, tension.

I'll be recording more in the near future!

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Classes!

Faux Pearls - For Sure! Maureen Greeson, of Maureen's Vintage Acquisitions, has just added another of my classes, but this one has a twist. It's a Take It Anytime Class. This means, you purchase the PDF (which has tons of photos) and learn how to do it! You can email me with questions. Click here to purchase the class and get started immediately! Learn several elegant motifs and seam treatments made entirely of faux pearls to beautify your crazy quilt work.

On March 27, a 4-week on-line class will be starting at Maureen's Vintage Acquisitions. This is Peacock in Paisley. Go here to register!!!

By special request, three of my quilts will be traveling to Beaujolais, France for the Quilt Expo there. Go here for more information.

On April 3, I will be teaching at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY. Grow Your Own Culinary Herbs will be starting at 10 am. Go here for more information.

July 16-20 will find me teaching at Quilting By The Lake in Syracuse, NY. Join me for a 2-day class on hand embroidery for quilts crazy or sane! And a 3-day class on creating fantasy landscapes using crazy quilting techniques. Or come for the entire week and have lots of fun while learning a beautiful art form. Go here for more information.

In November, I will lecturing and presenting a class in crazy quilting for the Brownstone Quilters in Paramus, NJ.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February CQJP

Here is my February CQJP (Crazy Quilt Journal Project). I'm making a series of paisleys. I love the paisley shape and love crazy quilting! When the year is done and I have 12 paisleys, they will hang from the valance I made to showcase this series. I embossed the burgundy velvet with an Indian wooden print block. I used a fine gold metallic thread to embroider around the shape and added metal and glass beads. The seam treatment along the blue patch is embroidery and beads with the hummingbird charm added. Silk floss was used for the embroidered seam at the bottom. Of course, a fairy charm had to be added! Also, a heart for Valentine's Day.

I'll probably end up beading in between the individual paisleys to anchor them together, so they are fixed. I don't want them twirling around individually as they will end up getting tangled. We'll see what other ideas I come up with as the year progresses!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My artwork on the cover of The Essential Herbal magazine.

Tina, editor/owner of The Essential Herbal magazine, asked if I would lend some of my textile artwork for the cover for the Roses issue. Having much from which to choose, she decided on this piece. Actually, this is the center section of a larger piece. The roses I fashioned from wired taffeta ribbon. All the embroidery and beadwork is by hand.

I've also written a short article on roses for this issue. I have written a few articles for The Essential Herbal before. It really is the best grass roots herbal magazine out there. Always something interesting to learn!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Crazy Quilts are Quilts Too Blog Party

Thearica, over on Pigtales is hosting a blog party, "Crazy Quilts are Quilts Too!" They certainly are! I've been creating crazy quilts since around 1990. I've won many, many awards. I've researched, collected and written about vintage crazy quilts too. I teach about crazy quilting and all the myriad techniques of hand work that goes into them. I absolutely love crazy quilts. If you scroll down through my blog, you can see tons of photos and comments about them. (okay, yes, I also am into herbs)

My website, has more photos and information about crazy quilts too. I am starting an on-line class in March. See blog post below. And, is the place to go for our hand-made herbal products.

On-line class starting March 27

I'll be teaching Paisley Peacock in an on-line class starting March 27. It will run for 4 weeks. You can sign up at

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valentine Challenge

In January, my quilt guild issued a challenge. Make a small quilted piece with the red heart provided and the theme of "My Funny Valentine". I stitched the cupid in stem stitch (a la redwork), added the heart and beads around, and quilted the words, "Fat, Naked, Dangerous". Yeah.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bye bye apple trees. Stupid beaver!

The four feet of flood waters that raged across our entire property as a result of Hurricane Irene was devastating. See previous posts. We lost lots of plants and weren't sure what would survive the winter in their weakened states. The trees, though, seemed to be holding up well. Guess the beaver thought so too. Here's all that is left of two of our apple trees.

Sentimental Journey Postcard

May Arts Ribbons issued a challenge. Use these four ribbons in a project with the theme, "Sentimental Journey". I came up with this fabric postcard (4' x 6"). I layered the white crinkle ribbon with the pink ruffled ribbon. I added the lace trim to the sides. I embroidered fly stitch with a fine gold metallic thread. Then, added the Celtic knot beads and glass hearts. To the right, I embroidered roses with the taupe silk ribbon. The bottom of the heart is chain stitch with ecru #12 pearl cotton.This is the back of the postcard, ready for a message, address and a stamp. Where would your sentimental journey lead?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alliance for American Quilts

The Alliance for American Quilts is having their annual fundraiser. Usually, they ask artists to create a 12 x 12 inch square, quilted in any way. This year, they have asked it be a house-shaped 15 x 19 image. All art is donated to the Alliance and are sold on eBay. So, I made a fairy house in a tree. I'll take another pic to show how dimensional the bark of the tree is. Behind the door...

This is "Rose Song", which I made for the Alliance a few years ago.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

CQJP 2012

Here is my "block" for January for the CQJP (Crazy Quilt Journal Project). Each month I will do a paisley. They will then be hung from my Ease "valance" as posted below. I crazy quilted the front, used Timtex in the middle and a plain fabric for the backing. I beaded the edge. The Timtex gives the paisley a sturdy base, so it doesn't flop.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

CQJP 2012

I am participating in the Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2012. This project is to bring heightened awareness to the art of crazy quilting. The idea is to make a small crazy quilt piece each month. Someone discussed having a word to represent what you desire in 2012. I chose the word, "Ease".

1. freedom from labor, pain, or physical annoyance; tranquil rest; comfort: to enjoy one's ease.

2. freedom from concern, anxiety, or solicitude; a quiet state of mind: to be at ease about one's health.

3. freedom from difficulty or great effort; facility: It can be done with ease.

4. freedom from financial need; plenty: a life of ease on a moderate income.

I decided to make a header, or valance of sorts, to begin the project. I embroidered the word ease and then added florals and fairies around. From this, my monthly crazy quilted pieces will hang. You'll have to stay tuned to see how this comes about!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Crazy Quilt Sneakers and iPhone case!

Yes, I am easily amused! Just got my custom printed Keds today. I created them with photos of one of my crazy quilts. I am impressed at how they turned out.

A few weeks ago, I ordered a case for my iPhone and used one of my crazy quilt blocks for the graphic. It turned out fabulously! Now, what else can I get my crazy quilts printed on?...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Herb of the Year - Rose

2012 Herb of the Year – Rose
Betty Pillsbury

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
Abraham Lincoln

Rose 'Alchymyst' growing in my garden

Think for a moment of standing in the garden on a warm June day. The sky is a stunning blue, the sun is warming your back, bees drone lazily in the background and roses are blooming with wild abandon. You approach the rose bush, first taken in by the beauty of the flowers. Just standing next to a rose, you catch the delightful aroma of its gorgeous blossoms. Leaning in to take full advantage of this olfactory delight, you inhale deeply. Immediately, a sense of peace and comfort envelops you. That is the magic and medicine of rose.

Roses are necessary in a garden for no other reasons than their beauty and that emotional response of comfort. There is healing in the witness of beauty. It’s a balm to the psyche. The momentary pleasure of the sight and scent of roses really isn’t momentary. If you allow, you can recall that moment in the sun later when you need a sense of calm. “God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December”. – J.M. Barrie

In herbal medicine, roses are considered to be cool and dry by some and slightly warm and moist by others. Sounds confusing, doesn’t it? Roses have a gentle, but powerful action. I find roses to be physically slightly cooling while simultaneously warming the “cockles of the heart”. Rose petal infusion makes a lovely, soothing anti-inflammatory for irritated skin.

My embroidery for an herbal thesis quilt.

Roses are most definitely antidepressant. Recall inhaling a fragrant rose and the sensation of calm and contentment that envelops you. The effect is also achieved by ingesting tea, tincture, acetum or glycerite of roses. Or, perhaps by enjoying rose petal jelly on your morning toast. Rose petal honey is lovely, as are candied rose petals. The uplifting sensation is welcome to me especially in the winter when fresh roses in the garden are a memory of last season.

My granddaughter, Salena, helping me harvest rose petals in my garden.

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”