Around 1990, Mom made a quilt top for our son, Cory. I was very excited when I drove to Walmart and picked out black, purple, green, and yellow print fabric. Then I selected all these plain colored polyester fabrics for poor Mom to make a quilt. She didn't complain; thank goodness I selected the Rail Fence pattern, and she made Cory's quilt top.
Now it was time to hand-quilt it. Mom would come to my home in Bloomington, Wisconsin, to get me started and teach me how to hand quilt. Before we did this, Mom suffered a massive heart attack and we lost our wonderful mother just ten days later.
The quilt top sat in the closet for a few years until I saw a machine-finished quilt. I thought, now that is what I can do with Cory's quilt and it will get finished. I sent the quilt top out and had it quilted with polyester batting in the cloud pattern. I brought it home and put about 4-inch wide binding on the edge, all by machine. I think Cory still has the quilt.
Our daughter, Katrina, wanted a quilt. I was already wiser. Katrina and I headed to a local quilt shop and selected four blue 100% cotton fabrics. I made her quilt top, a Sunshine and Shadows quilt, all in blue. I sent it off to the machine quilter and it was quilted in a pantograph pattern. I was hooked on quilting.
I continued making quilt tops and sending them to a local machine quilter. She specialized in pantographs only and I was ready for more. It was time to purchase my own long-arm quilting machine. My husband was very skeptical as I threatened to put the machine in our living room unless we built a room onto our house. I talked about it for about a year and eventually, we built a two-story addition to our home for my new quilting studio.
Fast forward a few years to 2001 and I decided this quilting stuff was alright. I quit my full-time job for the USDA and Quilts by Barb became my full-time passion. It has been uphill ever since.
Quilts by Barb evolved to include Quilt Retreat Getaway Weekends and Hand Dyeing Workshops. We celebrated our 15th anniversary of fall retreats in 2017. I have taught over 300 Beginning Quilting 101 classes and a lot of other quilt classes at local quilt shops in the area and in my studio. In 2007, I taught at the Wisconsin Quilt Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, and taught for about ten years.
Around Christmas time in 2006, I decided to trade up my Gammill Classic with an IntelliStitch attachment for a Gammill Optimum with a Statler Stitcher. The Statler Stitcher is the top-of-the-line quilting system that helps me provide the highest quality for my quilting customers.
Many days, as I worked on a quilt for myself or a custom quilt for a customer I thought about how much my mother would have enjoyed helping me quilt. Unfortunately, I didn't start quilting until after I lost her. However, I am guessing she is watching me from above. She is really glad I know better than to head to Walmart for polyester fabric as I continue to add to my quilting stash.
Fast Forward to 2022: A lot has changed since I wrote my quilting story. I have added a new division to my business called Barbz.net. I started making bags and purses and the name Quilts by Barb just didn’t fit. Barbz.net was born.
Now I have started doing upcycling of many items. You never know what I might be working on. I love furniture, wood items, and whatever I find on any given day.
Fast Forward to 2023: I am now retired. Yes, it was time for me to do only what I want when I want. This includes making items to sell at Market on Blackhawk as well as other venues. I no longer do custom orders. Check out some of my creations at Market on Blackhawk in Prairie du Chein, Wisconsin, or on the web at www.Marketonblackhawk.com.