Four Patch quilts and Snowball’s Chance – plus a new notion!!!

Jamie's Four Patch
Jamie’s Four Patch

Over the past three weeks I had the privilege of teaching a beginning quilting class at the Sewing Machine Shop in Walnut Creek. We covered the fundamentals of patchwork including rotary cutting, pressing, chain sewing and lacing.

Judy's Four Patch
Judy’s Four Patch

We created wonderful four patch quilts with two borders.

Debra's Four Patch
Debra’s Four Patch

This fun Halloween quilt has glow-in-the-dark spiderweb fabric for the outer border – so fun!

I really loved the class and I really enjoyed working with my sweet students. I was also very proud of their quilts.

Cindy's first Snowball's Chance block!
Cindy’s first Snowball’s Chance block!

Today was the first meeting for the Snowball’s Chance quilt class at In Between Stitches in Livermore, and we had a great time!

Everyone was cutting and sewing like mad.

The blocks are coming out very nicely and I’ll be able to share the quilt tops with you after we meet next month.

Snowball's Chance blocks in progress
Snowball’s Chance blocks in progress

I’m always interested to see how my students interpret each quilt differently! There is going to be an I-Spy version and an elegant brown and teal version (not pictured yet). Ann is making a great jungle version with tons of animal prints for her daughter’s classroom, and there are these other fun ones coming along!

We had a fun day, which included a bit of “shopping!” In our search we discovered a great new notion! Check it out…

Nifty notion!
Nifty notion!

Clover’s Wonder Clips are used for working with oilcloth and laminates, doing bias bindings, and holding quilt bindings in place for hand stitching. One of the members of class swears by them. They hold tightly and there are no more scratches from pins!

Clover's Wonder Clips!
Clover’s Wonder Clips!

There are ten in a package, which retails for $6.95. I bought two sets to give as gifts for by sewing friends. Which just means I’ll have to buy myself a set now. Dang! I should have thought of that!

And so versatile!
And so versatile!

It has a nifty legend on the back that shows all the ways it can be used for checking measurements and holding things. This ROCKS!

Late addition: check out this Pintrest photo of a great Snowball Quilt. It’s made by Valerie Page and it’s for sale!

Snowball’s Chance – a color love story

Purple and citrus yellow - yummy!
Purple and citrus yellow – yummy!

There are quilts I made “before” and quilts I made “after.”

Before and after what you ask? The explosion of colored fabric into my life.

Doll Quilt, by Alethea Ballard
Before: Doll Quilt, by Alethea Ballard

My earliest quilts are white, light blue and pink.

Bear Paw Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 1995
Before: Bear Paw Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 1995

Then there was a plain white with blue quilt!

Once fabric companies started making large-scale prints in quilting-weight fabrics my quilting really changed. It seemed as though I couldn’t get prints bright enough or large enough!

I love to play with COLOR! When I look at my body of work as a whole, I see bright, bold color. Lots of it!

Cut Flowers, by Stitchin' Post Staff, 2011
Cut Flowers, by Stitchin’ Post Staff, 2011

On my Sisters, Oregon trip this summer, I saw this snowball quilt on the wall at the Stitchin’ Post fabric store. (A Snowball block is a square with triangles on the corners.) The label states that it is the “Cut Flowers” quilt pattern from the Fall/Winter 2011 Quilt Sampler MagazineThis version was made by the Stitchin’ Post staff and was quilted by Terri. It looks like it’s made from 5″ or 6″ charm squares and each color-collection block has similar solid-color triangles surrounding it. It includes a bright raspberry-red shashing, green posts between the blocks, and a single fabric border. And it’s altogether quite smashing in person!

I was really drawn to the concentrated color use in the blocks.

It's sunny with a Chance of Snowballs in progress
It’s sunny with a Chance of Snowballs in progress

When I got home from the trip, my dear friend Ashley came to visit and we set out to make our own version of the quilt. We decided to skip the sashing and make the color intensity even brighter!

We absolutely had a ball pulling out every fabric I own so that each and every block (almost) is made from a different fabric. We chose to use medium or small scale prints on the corners.

Purple and citrus block
Purple and citrus block

We kept the colors as bright and clear as possible and matched up each hue with a contrasting or complementary color. We made piles for 11 of the blocks and chose the last color (coral) when all of the other blocks were assembled. That gave us the opportunity to add JUST the right color to finish off the palette. In the end we left out red. Hmmm…

Snowball's Chance, upper right corner, Lime & Teal
Snowball’s Chance, upper right corner, Lime & Teal

I created strips for the border that were the length of the blocks and squares for the corners, so I could just sew the quilt blocks once, border and all, and be done! I call it border-as-you-go. I really like when I can do this, as I HATE adding borders more than just about anything!

I used more large-scale florals and moved the color around the edges to complement the blocks.

One of these things is not like the other...
One of these things is not like the other…

As soon at the binding was on, I shlepped it down to the In Between Stitches preview party! It looked a little odd in a room full of fall-colored quilts. I do worry when my quilts don’t look like any one else’s.

I’m teaching the quilt as a class in LIvermore on September 30 & October 21! Contact In Between Stitches to sign up for this fun two-session class.

I am in LOVE with the  finished quilt!

Snowball's Chance, by Alethea Ballard; 2012
Snowball’s Chance, by Alethea Ballard; 2012

Aren’t you? Write and tell me about your color passion!

Superstars Quilts – Sis-ters Boom Ba; the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show – Part 2

Christmas Pixie Superstars detail
Christmas Pixie Superstars detail

Here’s the second installment in my series about the fabulous Sister’s Outdoor Quilt Show.

This time I’m speaking as a teacher, and I’m really excited and proud to show you some of the student’s work from the A Quilter’s Affair classes.

Maverick Quilts and Beyond was one of the two classes I taught. Each student came with a favorite large-scale print and over the two days they designed and created a quilt using one of the patterns in Maverick Quilts, Using Large-Scale Fabrics, Novelty Prints & Panels with Panache.

Diana Showing off Maverick Quilts!
Diana Showing off Maverick Quilts!
Cowboy Superstars, by Alethea Ballard; 2006
Cowboy Superstars, by Alethea Ballard; 2006

Several of the students worked on a Superstars quilt. It’s a great quilt to showcase a cherished collection of fabrics or a fussy cut six-inch image from a fabulous single fabric. Large, showy stars surround a modified nine-patch block, and the play of color and texture is really exciting.

Cowboy Superstars detail
Cowboy Superstars detail

My favorite part of the quilt is the secondary square, set on point, which surrounds the large center blocks. When I designed the quilt, I didn’t want to figure out the math of inserting the triangles into the side rectangles, so I just added in Prairie Points instead. These are triangles made out of folded squares which are simply sewn into the seam. Set against the rectangles like this they are a modification of a Flying Geese block, but the Prairie Points really add dimension and a three-dimensional effect, which I really like. They can be left flappy or stitched down with the quilting.

Cowgirl Superstars center blocks
Cowgirl Superstars center blocks

Each student created a totally different version of the quilt.

Cowgirls in progress
Cowgirls in progress

One of us, no names mentioned (Diana), made a bunch of the center blocks, even though she only needed two for the quilt. So, this led to her creating a whole new setting and layout for her quilt. We all got to laugh with her that she hadn’t read the directions at all. I actually love when this happens, and I am always energized by the surprises quilting can bring. Let’s hope to get a photo of her finished quilt soon!

Although there were many different quilt patterns being worked on at once everyone was really wonderful about encouraging each other. It was thoroughly delightful to experience the collaborative spirit that the students brought to the class.

Maverick Quilters at work!
Maverick Quilters at work!

Each quilt evolved in its own way and the everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves!

Carolyn's Superstars in progress
Carolyn’s Superstars in progress

Carolyn started out with a juvenile rocket ship fabric and made the star points to go with it. Then she decided that she wanted to make the quilt for herself and make it more elegant, so a quick trip to the Stitchin’ Post and she had a new focus fabric! It really worked out great.

Rosemary's Angel Superstars quilt
Rosemary’s Angel Superstars quilt

Rosemary’s angels were framed with lovely emerald-green triangles.

I was so inspired by this fun work that I’ve decided to offer the Superstars quilt as a class this fall! If you want to have a little bit of time with me and you’d love a great stars quilt, join me at In Between Stitches in November!

Christmas Pixie Superstars sample
Christmas Pixie Superstars sample

I just found this fun Christmas pixie fabric and have made a sample for my class. Hope to see you there.

I’m also scheduled to teach next year at Sisters (yeah!), so watch for the announcement and sign up EARLY! Classes sell out in a heartbeat!

If any of you A Quilter’s Affair students have some finished work from my classes to share, please send photos to me; I know we all really want to see how they all came out.

Stay tuned… more to come!