Volkswagen Bug Quilt Update – Cool Applique Patterns Alert!

Barbie's Bug - pattern by BJ Designs
Barbie's Bug - pattern by BJ Designs

You asked for it… you got it.

I have been getting requests for information about my teacher’s pet’s Volkswagen Bug quilt. In fact, I get about a query a day about it on the blog. IN FACT, her quilt gets so many views that I am beginning to suspect that people like Chris MORE THAN they like ME! I hung it in the Quirkology of Quilts exhibit – so go there and see it, why don’t you!?!

OK, enough already!  I will tell you right here and right now!

Actually I had to do a little detective work to find the pattern. (I would have sooo been a detective if my career as a fashion model/teacher my hadn’t worked out). It turns out that it is from BJ Designs and Patterns out of West Des Moines, Iowa.

Morely J Moose III - Pattern from BJ Designs
Morely J Moose III - Pattern from BJ Designs

My friend and student Chris purchased the bug pattern and the moose pattern (left) at Ladybug’s Quilts, in Manteca California. You can visit them on the web at http://www.ladybugsquilts.com/.  Their website is really nice with cool links to quilting resources and a big list of charity opportunities! For those of you wondering how and or where to give time/fabric/quilts to charity, this site is a wonderful resource.

I haven’t had a chance to get by the store yet, but I am adding it to my list of quilting destinations.

I talked to Sherry at Ladybug’s Quilts and she welcomes you to come by or to contact her about the BJ Designs patterns that she carries.

For those of you who love the Dream Chairs, I think you are going to love Barbara Jones’s work from BJ Designs. I detectived out her website which is, “Your place to go for original fabric art and patterns.”

Boot Scootin' - pattern by BJ Designs
Boot Scootin' - pattern by BJ Designs

I was so excited to go to her website and to see the great applique quilts she has designed. Her quilts have wonderful fabrics and great colors. Her borders are right up my alley, mismatched, curvy, or quirky. I especially love her bold designs and her fun and creative approach. Just the right amount of whimsy for me!

I followed up the website visit with a chat with Barbara. It was lovely, and we got to talk shop about being in the “business.”

As she says on her website, “Her desire is to create patterns for fabric art that can be easily read and implemented by an intermediate-level quilter.”

For a look at all of her different patterns, you can visit her at http://bjdesignsandpatterns.com/index.html.  She has animal patterns and “other” patterns.  Her business is wholesale, so she only sells to fabric stores, but she has a list of stores that carry her work organized by state. (Click here BJ Designs by State) If you don’t have a store near you, I bet you could get your local store to order you up a passel of cool BJ Designs patterns.

Happy sewing!

Gotta' Love my Bus - pattern from BJ Designs
Gotta' Love my Bus - pattern from BJ Designs

 I love this bus quilt!

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And the tote bag goes to…

grumpy cat
grumpy cat

England!

Congratulations to Wanda, who posted from the UK.

I put two-sided tape on the entries and the first one grumpy cat stood on was the winner!

Watch the award-winning film of the big event! (Hair and makeup forgot to come to the shoot and no CGI was available.  Sorry!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCV0SfxvQvk

Thanks to all (6) of you who participated in this big event!

Wanda will be getting her special bag super soon!

Let the Quirk Begin…

Koi Pond Chairs, by Alethea Ballard (detail)
Koi Pond Chairs, by Alethea Ballard (detail)

(Read all the way to grumpy cat and the P.S. to be eligible to win a prize. Really.)

There is a very special quilt event beginning on Thursday. The San Ramon Valley Museum in Danville, California, is opening a month-long quilt exhibit.

It is called the Quirkology of Quilts – Warmth to Whimsy.

Margaret Linderman and I were asked to co-curate the biennial quilt show for the museum, which is housed in the historic railroad building at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Prospect.

We have collected an eclectic mix of new quilt work, mostly created by local quilters. Margaret and I both have some of our newest quilts included. In addition, Margaret has selected some of her wearable art clothing to display, and I have some of my small chairs on display.

One of the wonderful things about creating a show like this is that during the selection process you can create a body of work that tells a story, as the quilts relate to each other in interesting ways.

As part of this conversation we have also created displays of old and new sewing tools, pincushions, and a few hand-made monsters. There is an interesting photo collection depicting some of the influences on today’s more quirky quilts. The museum has several fascinating antique quilts that we were able to include, along with a very unusual “Maverick” quilt from the 1960’s.

I invite all of you to visit the show, which will run until September 25. For more information and hours, please visit the museum’s website. http://www.museumsrv.org

Official Quirkology of Quilts flyer
Official Quirkology of Quilts flyer

But wait, you also get…

There are two quilts that you can win for your very own selfiepoo.  There is a raffle quilt; the tickets will be on sale at the museum. (photo coming soon)

Shibori Bouquet, by Margaret Linderman
Shibori Bouquet, by Margaret Linderman

The above quilt, made my Margaret Linderman, will be the prize for the Quilt Treasure Hunt. To win this beautiful quilt, you can pick up a postcard that lists the location of seven quilts, each of which are hanging in a Danville business within walking distance of the museum. Fill out the postcard when you have discovered all of the quilts’ locations and turn it in to the museum to be eligible for a drawing of this lovely wall hanging. Eat, shop, win a quilt – awesome!

But Wait You Also, Also Get a BIG Hello!

I would like to extend a special welcome to those of you who are visiting my blog for the first time! You might be visiting me after reading Laura Nownes’ blog, See How We Sew. It is a delight to be interviewed by Laura for her blog. I hope you like the free project that I shared, which shows the steps to make a portable ironing board using empty fabric bolts.

I invite you to scroll through my blog posts. I write about my current work, things that inspire me, quilts I like, and about my greatest passion – fabric!

Mavis Quinn (again)
Mavis Quinn (again)

A strange person called Mavis Quinn sometimes uses my site to post her ramblings written for Where Cuckoo Women Create Magazine .com.org.biz. Take what she says with a grain (or pound) of salt!

To get you exploring the site, I would like to offer you an opportunity to win a special prize – I will make a wonderful tote bag and put an image from my newest painted quilt, Koi Pond Chairs, on it just for you!

To win the cool tote bag, send me a comment below and tell me your favorite image from the blogs, I will put your name in my cool, red Disneyland hat and randomly pick a winner on Friday night at 9:00 P.M. PST. With the help of grumpy cat, Scott Hastings.

Scott Hastings
Scott Hastings

Enjoy!

P.S. Of course all of you faithful blog subscribers are welcome to enter the drawing – as you know I have never offered a free prize before!!! So stingy!

Must Have Fabric # 2.1

 Pernilla on her journey
Pernilla on her journey

Wanna see why this is a must-have fabric?  I made a wonderful quilt using the roaming elephant print from Tina Givens’ Pernilla’s Journey.

As I showed you before, I pulled out half a million strips from my strips bin and went about making blocks. (See Must Have Fabric # 2, click on link to the right)

I used a pattern from my book called the California Housetop. (So you can make one of these quilts, too!) In the quilt below I was using my boyfriend Alex’s Camaro fabric. Of course.

California Cars Housetop, by Alethea Ballard; 2010
California Cars Housetop, by Alethea Ballard; 2010

This quilt pattern was directly inspired by a quilt I saw in The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, from Tinwood Books; 2002. It was made circa 1935 by Rachel Carey George. It uses flour sacking as the white background and has stripes of reds, plaids, and gray.

Housetop, by Rachel Carey George; c. 1935
Housetop, by Rachel Carey George; c. 1935

The housetop block is a common motif in the quilter’s of Gee’s Bend’s work. It is a modified log cabin block that builds out on two sides from a corner square.

detail of Housetop, by Rachel Carey George; c. 1935
detail of Housetop, by Rachel Carey George; c. 1935

In Rachel’s quilt there are fifteen housetop blocks and one anomalous stripey block. I think it is interesting to note that the quiltmaker used the red only as stripes and not as any of the centers.

This quilt called out to me and said, use that large-scale fabric. Use those bright and bold colors. Go nuts.

And I did!

Pernilla's Journey Across the Housetops Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2011
Pernilla's Journey Across the Housetops Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2011

So, for this quilt, I made twelve housetop blocks and sewed them together with large sections of the elephants.

I cut the large-scale fabric to let the elephants galumph horizontally across the face. Each subsequent row is taller than the one above so that the image is reveled more in each row.  I used the green balloons as the columns in between the blocks.

Detail of right side
Detail of right side

With the twelve blocks in place, the quilt was a little tall and thin for me, so I set about making funky square-in-a-square blocks for side borders. I pieced the light fabrics in between and then added the marching elephants up and down the sides.

The Tula Pink fabric, Prince Charming
The Tula Pink fabric, Prince Charming

The Tula Pink Prince Charming fabric was a great color match with the Pernilla fabric, and I was able to use the frog in the center of one of the blocks. I made sure to add in fabrics of colors that didn’t match to create some zingers, like the pink and yellow floral above.

One of the tricks to making one of these quilts is to use a transition color at the outer edge of each block, one that works well as a bridge between the colored stripes and the large-scale sashing. It should be the color of the background in the sashes. In this case, each housetop block has a green and white fabric on the outer edge.

I quilted it using a zebra-stripe Superior Rainbows thread that went through shades of gray to charcoal.  I really loved giving all the little people funny curls on their hats.

I loved doing the stitching on the hats and flags
I loved doing the stitching on the hats and flags

I am exceedingly proud of this quilt!

When Pigs Fly they have chickens…

Not a real chicken
Not a real chicken

So I was at my friend’s house sewing away, and she said, “We’re going to look at chickens.”  Now, where I live is pretty urban and chickens are things you buy at the grocery store in a plastic bag.  But this was going to be different.

I don’t think I have gone on a spontaneous mystery trip in about a million years, but a search for real live chickens was all right with me. We drove along and picked up more intrepid chicken viewers and arrived at a wonderful, out-of-the-way gate which was faithfully guarded by a big dog.

At this point I should mention that the person who we were visiting didn’t know that there would be five strangers descending upon her uninvited, but she greeted us with smiles and calm. It was quite a while before we saw any chickens because, to my great surprise, we had stumbled upon a rare thing, an urban farm retirement paradise complete with resident artist.

Sun gate
Sun gate

The kind lady at the gate, Sue Horn, is a mosaic artist and we got to see some of her wonderful work.

Mosaic brick #1
Mosaic brick #1

Walk through the farm with me and I’ll show you all we saw…

Mosaic brick #2
Mosaic brick #2

We tripped down the lovely mosaic bricks and into her patio where Sue is working on her opus.  She is transforming a gray cinderblock wall into a delightful free-form garden of mosaic flowers.  She says it won’t be done for a long while, but the beginnings are wonderful.

Mosaic Wall - Oyster shells and beads
Mosaic Wall - Oyster shells and beads

Sue is using shells, beads, tiles, glass and even dishes to create her interesting flowers. We all stood in awe of what she has created so far and it was really fun to look closely at all the little details.

Daffodil with glass lampshade center & delphiniums
Daffodil with glass lampshade center & delphiniums

Work can be done in the afternoons when the sun passes over and the wall is shaded. The grouting will come later, but for now Sue has a wonderful playground on this wall.

Not a real truck
Not a real truck

Whimsical works like this green truck peek out all around the farm.

All of the supplies for Sue’s work are in a wonderfully cool and well-organized studio at the back of the house.

Mosaic tiles at the ready
Mosaic tiles at the ready

Being a color-hungry freak, I absolutely loved this wall with all of my favorite colors on it.

More mosaic tiles at the ready
More mosaic tiles at the ready

These tiles were made of glass and just begged to be played with.

Sue in her studio
Sue in her studio

By this point we were all pressuring Sue to teach us how to play with the mosaics. She smiled and took it all in stride!

The barn roof
The barn roof

When the crew could wrench me away from the studio, we finally made it towards the garage and the barn. The farm is called the Flying Pig Ranch, which I think is a reference to Sue and her husband Bill’s delight that they get to retire and live on this lovely farm.

Sue and Bill with the ford truck
Sue and Bill with the Ford truck

They have this amazing green truck. I loved the shiny green paint!

Cool truck!
Cool truck!
Ford truck hood
Ford truck hood

There was a goat and a tortoise running around. I got to feed the tortoise an apple. I felt just like Fanny Farmer. (No jokes from you Brits, please!)

There was even a tortoise
There was even a tortoise

After the garage we made our way past the Guinea fowl. There were about a dozen loud, strange birds, but Sue said that they were of a nervous disposition. Out of respect for their nerves (and a lack of nerves on my part) I did not go over to photograph them.

We finally made it to the chicken coop and saw the chickens. My favorite was this little rooster. His feathers looked lust like the fur of a teddy bear I once had. I only took 200 photos of him to try to get one of him standing still. This was the best I got!

Teddy bear-fur chicken - who knew?
Teddy bear-fur chicken - who knew?

The good news is that we have talked Sue into teaching us how to do mosaics!  Stay tuned for more adventures…

Beyond the Lovely Landscape quilt

Fred Flintstone fooling around in my Modern Home Landscape quilt
Fred Flintstone fooling around in my Modern Home Landscape quilt

I think it is time I shared some of my recent work with you all, dear readers.

The Lovely Landscape quilt in Maverick Quilts uses a focus fabric or panel-style fabric in the center. A row of circles attached to squares surrounds the central motif and then a border is added. The construction is simple and the results are wonderful. You can make a landscape quilt using the directions from my book.

I have been enjoying making quilts from my book lately – I know I should be developing new stuff, and I am, but the quilts in the book go together so quickly and they are so satisfying to make. (You may recall the Kapow Quilt that Alethea G and I were making for my niece. See https://maverickquilts.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/boyfriend-update-dont-tell-my-brother/ )

Recently I was commissioned to make a quilt for a friend’s brother’s wedding. What a delight it was when the friend loved the Harajuku Ladies from Alexander Henry as much as I did! I collected all of the fabric and was off in a flash.

Collecting fabrics for the Pagoda and Peonies Quilt
Collecting fabrics for the Pagoda and Peonies Quilt

Each fabric in the circles and squares was at least one individual color from the center fabric. I auditioned the placement of the circles, moving them many times until it felt just right.

Pagoda and Peonies Quilt - circle detail
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt – circle detail

To create the circles, I did the stitch and flip method using fusible lightweight pellon, and I stitched around each of the circles with a variegated orangy thread.

Here is a brief tutorial that goes with the directions in the book.

Trace a CD to the bumpy side of the pellon interfacing
Trace a CD to the bumpy side of the pellon interfacing
Pin and sew all the way around the circle
Pin and sew all the way around the circle
Trim off the excess fabric and cut a slit in the center
Trim off the excess fabric and cut a slit in the center
Turn it right sides out and use your fingers to smooth the curves
Turn it right sides out and use your fingers to smooth the curves

Then you press it flat attaching the bumpy, fusible side to the back side of the circle.

Pagoda and Peonies quilt before the appliques
Pagoda and Peonies quilt before the appliques

After all of the circles were sewn and their locations were just right, I added borders and then began the process of adding appliques of the flowers from the panel fabric. I used up a lot of yardage to get all the flowers, but it was WORTH IT! I made sure to place the appliques across the surfaces to blur the edges and create unity in the piece.

Pagoda and Peonies Quilt - lower right corner detail
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt – lower left corner detail
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt - middle right detail
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt – middle right detail

I did some painting in a few places to add to the painterly quality of the work.

Pagoda and Peonies Quilt - middle left detail
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt – middle left detail

See how I painted the pink square (above) to mirror the black dashes in the panel?

I must say that I was more than delighted to see the finished quilt!
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt by Alethea Ballard
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt by Alethea Ballard

I especially love the bottom right corner with the pagoda.

Pagoda and Peonies Quilt - lower right corner detail
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt – lower right corner detail
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt - lower right corner detail 2
Pagoda and Peonies Quilt – lower right corner detail 2

It seems that the happy couple was delighted with their gift and it now hangs in their home in Chicago.

I have created another version of the landscape quilt, which I welcome you to go see at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley show beginning August 25, 2011. More information to follow, but here is the poster.

Quirkology of Quilts Flyer
Quirkology of Quilts Flyer

Marvelous Margaret strikes again!

Marvelous Margaret Linderman
Marvelous Margaret Linderman

I am supposed to be cleaning my sewing room, so I will blog instead!  It is much more fun…

Yesterday I went to a really fun class held at Woodengate Quilts with inspiring teacher and friend Margaret Linderman.

We made napkins in two different styles.  Of course, being the nutball I am, I had to pre-cut all my fabrics and then proceed to make two thousand and two napkins.  They look great!

There were square napkins with mitered corners…

Square napkins
Square napkins
Darling contrast fabrics
Darling contrast fabrics
Picnic, anyone?
Picnic, anyone?

I might have gone a little overboard!

How cute are these?
How cute are these?

The mitered corners are really easy to do and the project is really fabric-friendly.  A half yard of the inside fabric and 5/8 yard of the outside makes two napkins.  The directions can be found in several sources, but I know that another wonderful teacher, Laura Nownes, has pictorial directions on her blog. You can find them at: http://seehowwesew.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/ahh-sweet-spring/

Of course, Margaret had a special project up her sleeve.  She showed us how to make these cool, sort-of-half-circle-two-sided napkins…

Half circle napkin
Half circle napkin
Pretty contrast fabric and darling stitching
Pretty contrast fabric and darling stitching

You stitch and flip and topstitch and then…

Folds up into little trees!
Folds up into little trees!

They fold all cleverly up into little trees. I just love them. I made four napkins using this Art Gallery fabric to give as a gift to a special friend. They also look good in Christmas fabrics – just like little Christmas trees.

Between you and me, I don’t actually need to take a class, but the beauty of doing so is that you actually get your work done. You also see friends, get out of the house, and you always learn new things from your fellow students. One of the other students showed us how to use a threaded needle to pull out the corners; it works really well.

Besides all that, any chance to spend time with an amazing teacher like Margaret is just golden. Get out there and take a class! It’s fun!

Being a person who has to make absolutely everything out of fabric, I try to make gifts out of fabric for my friends and family.  Often I get a project organized but then get too busy to make them and end up not having gifts for anyone. Oops! Now I have the gift for this year organized, I will be making them for everyone I know… if they are lucky!

Special note for you blog subscribers: What do you think of my photos from the new “photo booth,” my bathtub?  Better color, eh?  No yellow wall in there!

Must Have Fabric # 2

Hello Smiley Guy!
Hello Smiley Guy!

Elephant Parade, a new fabric by Tina Givens, is a delicious new fabric I found at Woodengate Quilts in Danville, California.

I just HAD to have it so much that I bought seven yards.  Plus three  yards in another colorway.

It is part of Tina Given’s line called Pernilla’s Journey from Westminster Fibers / Freespirit Fabric brands. This colorway is called Licorice Cloud.

You can see a wonderful booklet of the whole line of fabric in three different wonderful colorways if you go to: https://www.tinagivens.com/Fabrics.html. Click on the Pernilla booklet thing and you can turn pages and everything!

Elephant Parade, fabric by Tina Givens
Elephant Parade, fabric by Tina Givens

Of course this inspired a whole new quilt.  I bought some grays and then pulled out a million and two scraps from the scrap bin.

Scraps galore
Scraps galore

The I pulled out my copy of Maverick Quilts and went to town making a new California Housetop quilt.  Here is the audition photo.

Auditioning housetop blocks
Auditioning housetop blocks

These are 10″ blocks to give you a sense of the size and scale of the fabric. I am loving making a quilt out of my very own book. I keep having to check out the sizes and stuff to be sure I am doing it right. How funny is that? And I love making a quilt using some of my scraps! Just a reminder that the trick to making the California Housetop quilt is ti use a transitional color as the last strip in each block. (one that blends well into the background color)

Detail of Elephant Parade, fabric by Tina Givens
Detail of Elephant Parade, fabric by Tina Givens

Please hold for the finished quilt – It’s looking great!