Top Ten Reasons to Attend Our Donation Quilt Showcase – Fundraiser & Tea

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Dear all,

It has taken us a little less than one year, working approximately 1,756 hours, but we have completed our PNC Neighborhood Wishlist Challenge of making ten bed quilts to donate to Woodlawn’s YWCA shelter. Tomorrow, we will showcase these ten quilts, along side an opportunity quilt we are affectionately calling ‘Big Baby’. Because top ten lists were once a thing, we humbly offer you the top ten reasons to attend this amazing Showcase, Fundraiser & Tea:

Number 10: You’ll get to see the completed Bib & Tucker Sew-Op Banner. A labor of love that started with a to-scale rendering by Celeste Pfau. Members agreed on a color palette and then we divvied up the letters. Each letter is pieced from scraps and the different styles of piecing reflect the different personalities that make up this incredible group.


Number 9: Reason #9: Stop by to see our ten donation quilts, but stay for some of Mama Glo’s delightful hospitality, heavily supplemented by treats from all the savory and sweet food groups.

Number 8: You’ll be able to get up close and personal with our quilts! See which ones have the fanciest quilting and which ones were possibly bound by ten different people (four binding one quilt in this photo! And everyone of them with their mouths open!)


Number 7: Don’t take our word for it. Trust, which included the Showcase in it’s write up about the 12 holiday shows worth attending this season.


Number 6: Everyone who attends this incredible party will take home a party favor coaster made by members of the Sew-Op. We’ve made 200 – plenty to go around!


Number 5: It’s not just a quilt show, folks. Tres Taylor is having an open house as well. Available art for sale with a percentage of the proceeds going to the Sew-Op!


Number 4: Just in time (and only four years in the making…) – you won’t have to climb all those stairs, you can RIDE in style in the newly-fixed stair chair! (Plan for a bottle neck – this puppy may be working, but we’re talking basic functionality…meaning…slow…)


Number 3: Meet our opportunity quilt, ‘Big Baby’. Purchase chances (1 chance = $1) on this quilt at the Showcase. We will draw a name just before Mother’s Day weekend. This quilt is made up of remaining blocks from several of our other quilts, which means most of our members had a hand in making it. (Want to know why we call it ‘Big Baby’? You’ll have to ask Darlena on Sunday!)

Photo: Major Colbert


Number 2: Our first 25 visitors will receive a complimentary catalog of the show with photos of our quilts and thoughts from our members.


And the Number 1 reason to attend our Donation Quilt Showcase, Fundraiser & Tea: Our members. Join us so that you can meet the incredible, inspiring, strong women that make up this community-driven sewing co-op. We have accomplished so much in the past year and this is only the beginning. We are made up of artists, students, mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, daughters, teachers, gardeners, cooks, poets, and more. We have varying politics and faiths, but we all share a great love of community and a desire to see the art of sewing reincarnated from the status of ‘lost skill’. Spend your afternoon with us. We will not disappoint.

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Bib & Tucker Sew-Op Donation Quilt Showcase

In October 2013, the members of Bib & Tucker pledged to make ten bed quilts to donate to the Woodlawn YWCA’s Interfaith Hospitality House, which provides emergency housing for families in need. We’ve completed the challenge and want to share these quilts with the community before donating them.

Please join us for an afternoon tea and showcase! We will have small favors for all ticket holders. This is a fundraiser for the Sew-Op, so we have an additional treat for those who make a donation of $25 or more. Tickets will also be available for purchase on the day of the event.

Special thanks to Trés Taylor and the Odd Fellows Studios for hosting this event. The studio is located on the 2nd floor of the brick building across from Post Office Pies in Avondale.

Purchase tickets through Eventbrite.

Sew-Op members working on one of the donation quilts for the YWCA.
Sew-Op members working on one of the donation quilts for the YWCA.

Early summer re-cap

Dear Bib & Tucker enthusiasts:

We’ve been busy here at the Sew-Op, but that’s no excuse for keeping our fans in the dark! We re-commit (again and again) to keeping the website updated and in good faith, we issue this early summer re-cap:

At the end of June, Sew-Op co-founder, Lillis Taylor, was asked to speak as part of Common Threads, a six part symposium on quilting traditions in Alabama created by the Alabama Folklife Association and funded – in part – by an NEA grant. Taylor was joined by Gail Andrews, Birmingham Museum of Art director and Joyce Cauthen, folklorist and author of a beautiful book about the life of Bettye Kimbrell – a 2008 National Heritage Fellow. Several Sew-Op members came out to support Taylor and even got to see themselves in the slideshow Taylor presented during the talk. The following morning, Mrs. Kimbrell’s daughter led a Cherokee leaf-pounding workshop at Ruffner Mountain and several Sew-Op members attended this free event as well.

Lillis Taylor giving a talk about quilting and community-making in the 21st century. Talk was held at the Birmingham Museum of Art on June 27th.
Lillis Taylor giving a talk about quilting and community-making in the 21st century. Talk was held at the Birmingham Museum of Art on June 27th.

During the first full week in July, the Sew-Op participated in two incredible community projects. Sew-Op members plan to continue involvement in both, and there will be opportunities for the community to join us as we deepen these new relationships. First, on July 8th, Bib & Tucker members welcomed Carrie Bloomston and Rhonda Greenberg (former Birmingham residents) of the Happy Flag Project – “a celebration of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Birmingham, AL through handmade prayer flags from around the world”. Sew-Op members found kindred spirits in Bloomston and Greenberg and plan on extending the duo’s work in several flag-making community sessions during August.

Carrie Bloomston (left) and Rhonda Greenberg (right) hold up a quilt made from fabrics designed by Bloomston during a Happy Flag Project workshop with Bib & Tucker Sew-Op.
Carrie Bloomston (left) and Rhonda Greenberg (right) hold up a quilt made from fabrics designed by Bloomston during a Happy Flag Project workshop with Bib & Tucker Sew-Op.

Also during the first full week in July, soft-sculpture installation artist and new friend Amanda Browder returned to Birmingham for her second community sewing residency, in preparation for her large-scale commission for the Alys Stephens Center and the new Abroms-Engel Institute of Visual Arts. Magic Chromacity will be on display August 29th-Sept. 5th, with an opening reception on August 29th. Several Bib & Tucker members have grown quite close to Browder during the two sewing residencies and we all heartily agree that community-building should be part of art-making in the 21st century – if possible.

Sew-Op member Darlena does a dance of delight during the final day of Amanda Browder's sewing residency in July. As you can see, Darlena has found a color she likes!
Sew-Op member Darlena does a dance of delight during the final day of Amanda Browder’s sewing residency in July. As you can see, Darlena has found a color she likes!

What’s next for the Sew-Op? We will work with Desert Island Supply Co.’s “Exploring Woodlawn” camp on July 22nd and will continue the search for a home of our own, now that we’ve reached a point in membership that merits a committed space for all that’s going on. As always, we encourage visits. For more information about the work we do and how you can be a part, please send an email to If you’d like to be a part of our newsletter (more frequent and up-to-date than the website at this point) send us a message letting us know! Happy sewing!

Sew-Op members Michelle Reynolds (left) and Shirley Hamilton (right) pin a segment of Magic Chromacity.
Sew-Op members Michelle Reynolds (left) and Shirley Hamilton (right) pin a segment of Magic Chromacity.

Slow and steady wins the race…

…the old parable goes, but wowee, technology sure does seem to blow that idea out of the water! We started working on our ten donation quilts for the YWCA’s women’s shelter here in Woodlawn (thanks to the PNC neighborhood challenge) back in October, and here it is April and we are six quilts away from completing our goal.

Back in February, when we were a little more inclined to spend some time around the quilting frame, Mrs. Annie, Gloria and members old and new (young and old), gathered themselves around Gloria’s frame and talked shop while putting stitches into our first quilt. The frame was made for Gloria’s mother by Gloria’s grandfather and is a simple set of notched saw-horses and some long 1″x2″ slats. Finish it off with some C-clamps and you have yourself the first long-arm quilting “machine”. Because our members’ hand-sewing skills vary from “first time I’ve ever held a needle – now where does the thread go?” to “I can thread that needle with my eyes closed (and with these eyes, might as well close them)”: we have had our share of ups and downs with the hand work on this first quilt. It was realized about half way into the process that perhaps I should have done a tutorial on hand quilting before we got a half-dozen women around the thing in the first place. We’ve taken stitches out having not noticed that the underside was bunched to high heaven and we’ve taken stitches out because they never made it through all three layers of the quilt sandwich, thus managing not to “quilt” the quilt!

Clockwise from far left: Mrs. Annie, Adriane, Jeraldine, Celeste, Carol and June
Clockwise from far left: Mrs. Annie, Adriane, Jeraldine, Celeste, Carol and June

The hand-quilting and the use of the frame have been wonderful for fostering the burgeoning community that is Bib & Tucker and several new members have had the chance to get their feet wet slowly, but surely, and with lots of laughter and help from veteran quilters. Of course, Bib & Tucker is a celebration of the past & the present so while we were pulling out the trusting quilting frame each week, once we had another quilt sandwich ready to go, you know that bad boy got stitched up fast on the long-arm sewing machine. “Wonderful! You finally used the long-arm”, you say? Well, yes and no. We used the Pfaff machine that came with the long-arm apparatus and stand, but just as a regular sewing machine, sitting on a wooden tabletop and assisted by several women who held and guided the rolled up quilt sandwich like a giant burrito as one member manned (or should it be wo-manned?) the machine.

Dear Mrs. Annie threading her needle and getting teased by me!
Dear Mrs. Annie threading her needle and getting teased by me!

The quilt sandwich is a fascinating thing. You can iron the backing fabric and the quilt top until not a wrinkle is in sight, but if even one scrap of fabric in that quilt top is cut on the bias, or made of a cotton-poly blend, or heaven forbid – fully synthetic – you will have puckers and buckles and hiccups to account for when you get to quilting. This, of course, is why hand-quilting is preferred by many quilters. I have found hand-quilting to be ever forgiving, whereas the minute you put a sandwich through a machine, one wrong look, one slip of the wrist, and you’ve got a mile of stitches to take out or a little fold in the quilt to stare at for the length of your days. Take the below sandwich, for example. The very large pinwheel blocks were made of fabric cut on the bias and even though the thing was sprayed (using basting spray – worth its weight in GOLD, I tell you!) within an inch of its life, it bucked and rolled all through the quilting process. Lesson learned? When creating 20″ pinwheels, pay closer attention to the initial cut of the fabric!

A carefully sprayed and laid sandwich!
A carefully sprayed and laid sandwich!

Thanks to our incredible veteran members, Sew-Op  newbies have learned all kinds of tricks in the making of these quilts. By the time we reach number ten, we will have worked out all the kinks and will practically have to purposefully throw some wrenches in the process. Of course, no quilt is ever perfect or even supposed to be perfect. One of my favorite quilting myths is generally ascribed to the Amish and states that quilters used to misplace a piece or use an unusual fabric choice in order to create “humility blocks” so that their imperfect quilts would not be prideful before God. Of course the Amish themselves counter this argument with the belief that such an idea of artificial imperfection is prideful in itself. The unusual placement of small pieces of fabric or slightly “off” shapes is a delightful mystery regardless of its origins and is a helpful reminder for any beginner.

We love our Pfaff! Yes we do! We love our Pfaff, how 'bout you?
We love our Pfaff! Yes we do! We love our Pfaff, how ’bout you?

Ah, good old technology. It may be loud, lonesome and bad for your back (unless you have a burrito-wrangler or two on your team), but it certainly helps to get the job done. Here I am wrestling the last few quilting lines of the pinwheel quilt and what’s that smile on my face? It’s the satisfaction of creating and quilting a sandwich in one session? Who had more fun? Why the ladies around the quilting frame, of course. But they still have work to do!


Inspiration Friday: January 2014

Welcome to Bib & Tucker Sew-Op’s brand new monthly homage to all things inspirational in the sewing and quilting creative, connective web. In the hopes of becoming more active (and informative) on our blog, we’ve come up with this monthly post (others to follow!). This month’s inspiration comes from a mysterious source. While perusing Pinterest for future projects for the Sew-Op, a member came across this image, which is pinned to a board called Quilts/Fibers.


Hoping to find the original creator/poster of this gorgeous quilt, the member clicked on the image, which was originally posted on Flickr, but the link was dead. So, this quilt is out in the universe and is unattributed! Such a shame because it inspired our members a great deal. While it is beautiful in its organic chaos, it is actually an easy quilt to piece and it would utilize scraps, making it ecologically savvy to boot!

The B&T member was so excited to find this beautiful quilt that she made some sample quilt blocks in Photoshop and mocked up a sample quilt with her Photoshop scrappy blocks. Photoshop, other computer software and even graph paper, allow a quilter to play with the design of a scrappy quilt before launching off into making dozens of blocks.

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I hope that in months to come, I will be able to post a member’s quilt – inspired by this, our first Inspiration Friday post. The problem with inspirations is that there are sometimes too many, making choosing the next project sew impossible! (Couldn’t resist)


The Sew-Op’s first partnership: Molly Green Boutique!

Brittany Hartwell, owner of Molly Green Boutique and honorary member of the Sew-Op (those of you who’ve seen our Kickstarter video may have spied Miss Britt), arrived this past Tuesday to a veritable playground of plaid. Having requested some garments from a few members the week before, she was delighted to find three members working like Santa’s elves on her samples. I thought she was going to shout for joy when she saw our newest member Wani working away on an up-cycled flannel shirt. 


The ladies worked on their samples and Brittany offered suggestions and feedback. Aside from this bit of business, the Sew-Op entertained a large number of new visitors and friends. It was a lively day and we’re looking forward to growing the relationship with Molly Green Boutique. And who could contain themselves when the client looks this cute in a first draft? (Wani managed to whip the shirt into shape in the last half of the afternoon!)


Stay tuned for more details on the items that will be for sale at Molly Green!


Bib & Tucker in WELD


Bib & Tucker Sew-Op, along with co-founder Lillis Taylor, was written up in WELD for Birmingham, a weekly publication. The word is getting out about the Sew-Op and our members continue their great work. Sooner than you know it, we’ll have our very own cottage industry here in Woodlawn. 

DISCO recently welcomed Red Mountain Makers to the neighborhood. RMMakers is a group of technology and gadgetry enthusiasts who mix crafting with high-end circuitry to create all sorts of enticing projects for children and adults alike. It’s nice having makers next door – they seem a very likely addition to the neighborhood.

For the full text of the WELD story, visit:

Kindred Spirits

Lillis and Marilyn Henrion, sporting a Tré Lilli scarf and standing in front of one of her wall hangings, which is made from digitally printed silk Marilyn runs through her printer after manipulating photos she has taken of buildings in her native NYC or in cities she has visited. Each wall hanging is then hand-quilted with tiny, even stitches.

It’s summer in Alabama, which means it’s hot. It’s so hot that people’s brains melt and their energy drops to low. It’s all you can do to get from point A to point B without falling out from the heat and the humidity. And it’s times like these that folks keep real still. So still you’d think we were all dead or asleep and most of us are dead asleep. We’ll be this way until the months start taking on a “-ber” or a Brrrrrrrr, if you like.

Needless to say, the Sew-Op is quite still this month. We worked so hard to get ready for QuiltFest and were so successful that folks are very happy to sit around and just talk each Tuesday. There are a few die-hards who arrive each week with sewing machine and quilt project in hand, but overall we are definitely taking a break. It is a time for contemplation of the next big project. With this in mind, I sought out a kindred spirit up in NYC on a recent jaunt up to the city from Birmingham.

Bless the Internet! One of our donors from Kickstarter introduced me to Marilyn Henrion and her totally awesome Kickstarter campaign from last year, “Send Grandma to Poland!” From the music she plays in the video to the connection with Poland to her literary interests and her prolific nature, I immediately fell in love with Mrs. Henrion. I noticed she was from New York and wrote to her immediately on the off chance that A. she was in the city and B. would be willing to meet a nut from Alabama. She wrote back just before I headed out of town and told me she’d be in the city for a day, which happened to be the same day I, myself, planned on being in New York! Kismet! Already!

On the appointed day, I tucked a Tré Lilli scarf in my dyed-grass basket and made my way through the village, in search of Mrs. Henrion’s high-rise. I found it easily and scooted up to her door, where I was embraced and taken into an apartment full of Mr. and Mrs. Henrion’s artwork. Prolific she is, and modest too! I only found out upon returning to Birmingham and watching a DVD Mrs. Henrion gave me, that she and her husband were friends with Joseph Cornell, who was my all-time favorite artist in high school.

Mrs. Henrion listened to me gushing about Bib & Tucker and told me that in the 70’s or 80’s, she started a similar group at a women’s homeless shelter near her home in Greenwich Village. The women made quilts for their beds and when people came into the shelter and saw the rows of beds, they were covered in colorful, glorious hand-made quilts. She introduced me to the controversy of Eli Leon and to the unconventional “textile” creations of El Anatsui. Hopefully, oh hopefully, my conversation with Mrs. Henrion has just begun.