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!

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3 thoughts on “Must Have Fabric # 2.1

  1. you should be proud of this quilt..it is lovely!!! Better in person, I should add.

    I need you to email or call me with days/hours of the Danville Quilt Show….I need to bring my mom and also see that famous VW Bug Quilt– which is oh-so popular.

    Hugs, TP

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