Barbara Brackman is a quilt historian and author. She has written books on quilting during the Civil War including Facts and Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery and Quilts From the Civil War. Her Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns contains more than 4000 pieced quilt patterns, gathered from printed sources published between 1830 and 1970. (EQ’s BlockBase is based on Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.) She has many other books, including her newest, Emporia Rose: Applique Quilts.

Barbara also has a free block weekly on her blog along with historical information and stories.

  Barbara says, “I have been reading Jane Austen biographies for several years, trying to figure out what it was like to live in England about 1800. I realized how much Austen’s life and her family influenced her novels so I thought I’d do a block of the week in 2014 with a little history about the Austens and their times each week.

I use BlockBase for the pattern instructions (blocks on the Austen blog are 12″.) Some readers choose to do a different block size, so I give them the BlockBase number for each weekly block and they can print out instructions for 9″ blocks or 4″ blocks.

I have always been interested in quilt patterns, the wide variety and their history. For many years I did a regular feature for Quilters Newsletter Magazine about patterns. Back then I used my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns to find the blocks named for states or for brides, etc. Now I often do a block-of-the-month for my guild and my classes using BlockBase. With the blogosphere I can do a block of the week like the Austen Family Album and reach a world wide audience. 

For the Austen Family Album I pick a family member like Jane’s sister Cass or her niece Fanny and then do a word search in BlockBase for names like “sister” or “Fanny.” There are many perfect blocks (all named later than Jane’s era) like Queen Charlotte’s Crown and Village Square that keep with the theme. We are doing 36 blocks, which will end in December, but I will leave the posts up for several years so readers can join any time.

I love looking at our Flickr page every week to see what the Austen Family Album community is doing with the blocks. Amazing what they come up with. 

I am lucky enough to have several friends making up the blocks in various fabric themes.” 

One friend of Barbara’s, Becky Brown, is using one of Barbara’s Moda reproduction lines, Ladies’ Album for her blocks.


Barbara’s websites and books have so much great historical information and quilting history within them. I was browsing around myself and need to go back and read more. I’m hooked!