Alma Allen and Barb Adams: Blackbird Designs

With a name like Blackbird Designs, it’s not surprising that Barb Adams and Alma Allen find inspiration in nature. That’s just where they found the source of their designs for Meadow, their newest line of fabric for Moda.“We’re both gardeners, and we like to bring the outdoors in,” says Alma.

In colors of “earth, sky, wildflowers, and grass,” Meadow reflects the hues and the creatures found outdoors—the plants, animals, and even insects whose presence in a meadow indicates its vitality.

Though they’re nature buffs, Barb and Alma first met indoors, in a Kansas City quilt shop, when Barb took a quilting class from Alma. “Alma had this way, she was so encouraging, fun, and provided a lot of inspiration,” says Barb. “I was hooked.”

And it was clear to Alma that Barb needed little instruction. “In a three-session class, Barb would finish her quilt by the second class,” Alma says. “And her color choices are so wonderfully dramatic.” In 1999, the women started designing quilts together.

“A business partnership is a little like a marriage,” says Alma. “You don’t know who you get until you go through stressful times, like tight deadlines. We have traveled the world together and get along really well.”

Not long after they joined forces, the pair started designing rug-hooking and cross-stitch patterns. “We enjoy the peacefulness of handwork,” says Barb. “It’s so versatile and easy to take with you.”

They especially enjoy bringing that love of handwork to others. “When you see someone else really love it, you know you’ve given them a hobby they can enjoy for the rest of their life,” says Barb. “That’s so satisfying.”

It’s not just working, traveling, and teaching together that bring satisfaction to the Blackbird Designs team. Their partnership with Moda has been a pleasure, too.

“There are a lot of people with ideas, but they don’t bring them to action,” says Barb. “Moda turns their ideas into actions within hours. They’re a very creative company.”

And speaking of turning ideas into actions, the crickets and bees that inspired Meadow fabric also inspired Alma to take action and try something new: beekeeping. She recently added two hives and 20,000 bees to her backyard.

“I’ve had shelters for solitary, feral bees in my backyard but I noticed you just don’t see bees like you used to, so I decided to give honeybees a try,” she says. “Now it seems I’m outside checking on them once an hour!”

For more about Blackbird Designs (and Alma’s bees) visit their blog One Stitch at a Time

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