All-American Flag Quilt

Star section detail from All-American Flag Quilt, by Alethea Ballard
Star section detail from All-American Flag Quilt, by Alethea Ballard

It’s true. I am very patriotic. I don’t have pictures of Uncle Sam all over my house or anything like that, but when it comes to the old red, white & blue, well, it definitely runs in my veins!

I do love to hang the Stars and Stripes at my house, especially on holidays!

All-American Flag Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 1998
All-American Flag Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 1998

Years ago I made a picnic quilt to use on the Fourth of July. I made a star section out of an old dark-blue pair of my husband’s Dickies work pants and some white cotton sheeting. I cut up a pair of husband’s jeans and some of my son’s jeans and made the “white” stripes. (Terrible, but true, one of the pairs was actual acid wash jeans – so that just dates the quilt right there!) There had been a sale on 60″ wide red denim at JoAnn’s and I had bought three yards, so I had the red stripes and the back covered! I stitched it all together and, voila, Sam’s your uncle!

Jeans and tying add interest to the All-American Flag Quilt, by Alethea Ballard
Jeans and tying add interest to the All-American Flag Quilt, by Alethea Ballard

We’ve used this quilt many times, on many picnics and holidays and it still looks great!

Detail of All-American Flag Quilt
Detail of All-American Flag Quilt

I’d really been wanting to make a pattern so that I could share this quilt with my students and y’all, so I decided to make a new version using all red, white and blue shirts. I didn’t have any of my own, so I crept into my husband’s closet and right then and there stole a shirt. Two minutes later I was cutting it into 6 1/2″ sections and the next thing I knew the quilt was on its way! I used the back yokes, the sleeves, pocket and even the button section.

I promptly headed to the thrift store and bought (not stole) some gently-worn shirts, and the rest is history!

All-American Flag Quilt - men's shirt version, by Alethea Ballard; 2013
All-American Flag Quilt – men’s shirt version, by Alethea Ballard; 2013

I sold this version to a wonderful lady from Carmel Valley, so this is the only photo I have – I wish I had taken some close-ups! All of the parts of the shirts really added visual interest to this quilt. Again, I had three yards of on-sale denim just lying around, this time a soft blue, and the back and border was a snap!

Now I’ve created a great downloadable pattern at my Etsy.com Pattern Store. It has loads of color photos and complete instructions for making the quilt. I even include information about stitching it and doing the tying!

But wait! Yes that’s right folks, you also get a YouTube video! Yes, you heard that right. I’ve made another dorky video (just like when I was a Home Ec teacher). This one shows how to make half-square triangles without having to cut triangles to make them! Yeah!

Alethea's YouTube video has a tutorial on how to turn humble squares into stars!
Alethea’s YouTube video has a tutorial on how to turn humble squares into stars!

I’m on track to make more dorky films, so be sure you sign up to follow the Maverick Quilts YouTube channel when you’re there for the nerdfest!

Stripes from red denim and jeans
Stripes from red denim and jeans
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Blogger’s Bar-Hop QuiltAlong – Maverick Style!

Me, me, me – It’s my turn!

Hello and if you’re new to my blog, WELCOME!

I am very happy to show you my blogger’s Bar Hop Quiltalong contribution: The Wyatt Block.

The Wyatt Block, by Alethea Ballard
The Wyatt Block, by Alethea Ballard

I’ve been on a mustache jag and have been making all kinds of things with mustaches!!!

My four + one
My four + one

For the blog hop we were each sent four fat quarters from the Clothworks  line, European TaupeVIII collection by Kinkame.

And the rules stated that we could add one fabric and we had to have a rectangle-shaped part to the block. I added the bright raspberry to bring out the flowers in the brown plaid and in the rose fabric. It’s very hard for me to work without a WHITE in there somewhere, but I persevered!

So when I went to design my block and saw that my fabrics included a brown – I JUST HAD TO make a mustache!

I designed the 12″ block to have a 6 x 12 panel in the middle to showcase the Wyatt. Then I thought the rest of the fabric would look nice with a piano key border. I drew it out nice, but then I sewed it wonky, of course!

Original idea
Original idea

When I drew up a brand new mustache for this block, my Thoroughly Modern Mavis Wednesday Night Drop in girls named it Wyatt! They also thought Samuel, Twain and Clemens were good names for this guy, so feel free to change the name – in fact name it after your uncle Spencer or your cousin Gilbert; it’s fine with me!

Design with new rows added
Design with new rows added

I was worried about the piano keys being too plain so I added a 1/2″ cross strip to break up the 3″ piano keys.

So strap on your spurs! Here’s how to make The Wyatt Block!

Copy mustache to paper side of fusible
Copy mustache to paper side of fusible

Copy the mustache to the paper side of the fusible.

Fuse to back of fabric, then cut out
Fuse to back of fabric, then cut out

Fuse the pattern to back of the fabric, then cut it out and fuse to a light background rectangle 6 1/2″ x 12 1/2″

Trace the name and embroider
Trace the name and embroider

I stitched around the mustache with a raspberry thread using a straight stitch. Then I traced the name from my pattern, using my trusty Frixion pen, and stitched it by hand using a back stitch. (For my loyal friends and readers who are in shock because you know that I NEVER do hand work, all I can say is needs must! And I’m a big girl now.)

Cut your strips
Cut your strips

I cut my strips randomly-ish as follows (pictured in order above) 2 1/4″, 2″, 1 3/4″, 1 1/2″, 1 1/2″, 1 1/4″, 1″ and 1″.

Sew strips together
Sew strips together

I sewed all the strips together randomly. Notice that I added in a tiny strip of the mustache fabric – very important visually.

Press all one direction
Press all one direction

Press seams in one direction or open them if you like (crispy-fried fingers).

Subcut the strips and add a 1" strip of the light fabric
Subcut the strips and add a 1″ strip of the light fabric

Subcut your strips as follows: 4 strips at 2″, 4 strips at 1 1/2″, 4 strips at 1″.

I add a bit when I sub cut
I add a bit when I sub cut

When I am working with small, complex strip sets I add a bit when I subcut and then trim down when I’ve assembled the whole thing. Then I can be sure to get the measurements correct. I usually sew my  just a little fat.

Lay out your 2" strips, removing a piece or two
Lay out your 2″ strips, removing a piece or two

Create randomly pieced strips by removing a bit here or there and sewing the bits together. Rip your pieces apart and sew them back together. Don’t use a seam ripper, be rough, pull, tear, go Maverick! The quilt police aren’t watching!

Create a 2″ strip longer than 12 1/2″

Lay out your 1 1/2" strips, removing a bit or two
Lay out your 1 1/2″ strips, removing a bit or two

Repeat the process with the 1 1/2″ strips. Create a 1 1/2″ strip longer than 12 1/2″

Add in your 1" strip
Add in your 1″ strip

Move the 1″ strip bits around and then add in little chunks of the light background fabric for some visual punch.

Create a 1″ strip longer than 12 1/2″

Trim strip sets to 3 1/2" wide
Trim strip sets to 3 1/2″ wide

Then sew the three strip sets together and trim down to 3 1/2″ wide and 12 1/2″ long.

Make a second strip set that is different
Make a second strip set that is different

Repeat the process for the bottom of the block. Have fun with this process! Don’t stress; make it wonky!

The Wyatt Block, by Alethea Ballard
The Wyatt Block, by Alethea Ballard

Add your strip sets to the top and bottom of your mustache bar and go get a drink!

Yee Ha, you did it!

Thanks y’all for stoppin’ by – stick around the old blog and see what else I’ve been up to – and you’re welcome to sign up to follow my blog if you like what you see!

I will email you the PDF of Wyatt’s mustache if you send me a message at maverickquilts (at) gmail.com!

Hippedy Hoppidy QuiltAlong Day 2

Lynn Harris' block - detail
Lynn Harris’ block – detail

OOOOH – wheeee!

Lynn Harris’ bogger’s Bar QuiltAlong block is up and posted on her blog – Its so yummy! She’s got directions to make one (or more) of your own on her blog – check it out!

Won’t you join us in our fun?

Feel free to join us and to post your blocks in the flickr group here! ?

Lynn Harris' blogger's Bar QuiltAlong square
Lynn Harris’ blogger’s Bar QuiltAlong square

Yee Ha and Hopalong Quiltedy!

Strap on Your Spurs, little darlin’s I’m doing a Quiltalong!

Amy Ellis' blogger's Bar QuiltAlong block
Amy Ellis’ blogger’s Bar QuiltAlong block

Here’s Amy Ellis block for October 1 – Very Nice.

That means you read the posts and make some brand spankin’ new blocks for a creative project!

The lovely Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Studios has invited me to join in on his Blogger’s Bar Hop Quilt Along… Won’t you join us in the fun?

Here is what Scott has to say about this little shin dig…

“This year, some bloggers and a bunch of new friends have returned for this autumn’s Blue Nickel Quiltalong.  This year we are focusing on using rectangles in our blocks and after much cleverness searching we came up with this title:  the blogger’s Bar Hop Quiltalong.

Now lest we offend some of you along the way with our reference to a Bar Hop, let us all remember that Bars come in all varieties.  Tavern/Pub bars, yes, but also: Candy Bars, Snack Bars, Breakfast Bars, Sand Bars, Tea Bars (okay, that would be a Tea House, I know…..) Ice Cream Bars, Behind Bars, etc.   So pick YOUR favorite Bar and Hop along with us!

The fabric we are featuring has been generously supplied by Clothworks from their European TaupeVIII collection by Kinkame.  Soft, subtle, and maybe just a little more “traditional” in tone.  We have fourteen bloggers with styles ranging from very modern to the somewhat more traditional side of the quilting street. We believe the “wall” that sometimes comes up between quilters on those lines should be torn down, so that is part of why the collection has been chosen. If you choose to make your blocks out totally modern or totally traditional, they will work just fine.  We love to see the variety of blocks that emerge from these quiltalongs!

Each designer was given four fat quarters from the collection and told they could add one solid and one print of their choice OR two solids and that was it. The other requirement was that they had to use at least one rectangle (bar) in the block  somewhere.  The blocks will all finish to a useful 12” x 12” size.  Feel free to post your blocks here as you hop along with us!

Here’s the line up!

October 1 Amy Ellis

October 2 Lynn Harris   

October 3   Heather Jones    

October 4   Jackie Kunkel    

October 5 Ashley Jones

October 6  Emily Cier 

October 7 Scott Hansen

October 8 Jan Peoples

October 9 April Rosenthal

October 10 Amy Lobsiger

October 11  Cara Quilts

October 12   Konda Luckau

October 13  Alethea Ballard – That’s me!

October 14 Charlie Scott

Hope to see you on the Hop!”

Well, there you have it! I like what Scott said about the softer color palette: “We believe the “wall” that sometimes comes up between quilters on those lines should be torn down.” I’m up for that – are you?

Stay tuned for updates and Join Me in the QuiltAlong!

Fiesta Beauties Quilt – grand debut

Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; center/right
Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; top right

The Fiesta Beauties quilt is finally finished! I am so pleased with the result.

Many if you know that I have been working on a series of quilts that have evolved from my Lovely Landscape quilt from the Maverick Quilts book.

Drum roll, please!

Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012
Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012
Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; lower right
Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; lower right
Fiesta Beauties Quilt back
Fiesta Beauties Quilt back
Close up of Fiesta Beauties quilt back
Close up of Fiesta Beauties quilt back

With how much work went into the front of the quilt, it seemed only fitting that I make a whole second quilt for the back side!

And of course, there is that dee-luxe quilt label. (see last post)

Las Senoritas, by Alexander Henry Fabric Collection
Las Senoritas, by Alexander Henry Fabric Collection

I created a series of pieces of the focus fabric, which is Las Senoritas, by Alexander Henry Fabrics (still my boyfriend, I might add!). I tried to focus the visual impact of each part by covering up images that I didn’t want.  Mostly that meant covering up partial faces and sometimes extra arms, elbows, hands or hats.

Auditioning a flower applique to cover a hat
Auditioning a flower applique to cover a hat

Then I created the circles for the edges of the focus pieces. All the focus blocks are in 6″ (finished) increments to go with the 6″ finished blocks.

Circles ready for machine applique step
Circles ready for machine applique step

Each circle was machine appliqued to the blocks.

Circles and focus fabric sections in progress
Circles and focus fabric sections in progress
Right side in progress - auditioning appliques
Right side in progress – auditioning appliques

I began to audition the border fabric and started cutting boat-loads of flower appliques.

Charras, by Alexander Henry Fabric Collection
Charras, by Alexander Henry Fabric Collection
Viva Frida, by Alexander Henry Fabric Collection
Viva Frida, by Alexander Henry Fabric Collection
Cacti, by Michael Miller
Cacti, by Michael Miller

After sewing the pieces together, I worked to integrate all the visuals in the piece by breaking the barriers of the focus sections and the surrounding blocks.

This is where the fun begins because there are so many ways to do this. Often I found myself “creating” new flowers by strategically splicing pieces of the fabric.

Estela needs a blue flower
Estela needs a blue flower

In this section I wanted to break the plane by bringing the flower out into the next block.

plain fabric ready with a blue flower
plain fabric ready with a blue flower

This flower proved especially challenging, as it didn’t have any whole petals to work with.  If I just removed the surrounding imagery, the flower would look chopped. I wanted a whole flower.

Flower with leaf
Flower with leaf

For the foundation, I made this cutout. By including the leaf, the applique will blend in better on the background.

Bring in an extra petal
Bring in an extra petal

Then I have to cut up a whole flower to get another petal to overlay.

Overlay the new petal
Overlay the new petal

Trim things up until it looks right.

Trim the petal if needed
Trim the petal if needed
Bring in the flower with the leaf
Bring in the flower with the leaf
Glue flower and leaf in place
Glue flower and leaf in place
Glue on the extra petal
Glue on the extra petal

I added appliques all over the place. All of the other appliques (except the really big cacti) came from other Alexander Henry fabrics I’ve collected over time (of course).

Here are some examples of the results.

Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; middle right
Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; middle right
Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; left middle
Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; left middle
First layer of quilting in - choose second layer thread colors
First layer of quilting in – choose second layer thread colors

When it came to quilting, I gave everything a once-over with a blue and green variegated rayon thread called Rainbows from Superior threads. In this pass I quilted the backgrounds and borders as well as the edges of all of the appliques.  Then I chose colors to go with all of the different parts of the quilt. Each flower, circle and applique was then quilted a second time with a thread of a matching color. I ended up using green, orange, pink, red and brown.

Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; upper center
Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; upper center

It’s getting packed up for its debut at Sisters next week.

I hope y’all like it!

Quilt Label – a very long 4-letter word!

Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012
Detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012

OK! Uncle!

I am making some labels for a few of my new quilts. But, only because I have to.

detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012
detail of Fiesta Beauties quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012

The Quilt Police have had a warrant out on me for years for section 420.67b, non-completion of quilt labels (along with section 316.28a, undocumented quilt gift-giving (no photo of quilt taken before given away); section 421.12c non-inclusion of hanging sleeves; and a few other misdemeanors to be named later).

However, I am showing some of my new work in the Teacher’s Tent at the Sister’s Outdoor Quilt show next week, and they require compliance with the practice of adding a label.  I get why a quilt should be labeled – I even agree that it’s a good thing.

One should label their quilts. (Should – another long 4-letter word.)

I don’t know if it is the rebel in me, the lazy in me, or the absolute aversion to hand sewing, but I NEVER make labels for my quilts. Except for now, when I am doing it for these five quilts (and a few other times).

So, could I just have made a nice simple label? A pretty square with the pertinent information? I COULD have.

But did I?

Why, no.

Quilt Label pre-view
Quilt Label pre-view

Of course not! I made a super-complex collage of at least 12 pieces.

Why so many bits, you might ask? Well, I made her a new skirt top with the pretty red points (the original has just one red point), and then I collaged the basilica, flowers, cacti, and leaves to make a balanced arrangement.

I am sure you’ve noticed by now that the piece is not a simple square either. Of course not! That would just be too easy!

Starting to pin the label edge to the quilt back
Starting to pin the label edge to the quilt back

I did give her a nice set of arm and shoulder tattoos while I was at it. And why not?

Then, I used a zig-zag stitch to attach the collage to a background piece. Not sure it’s the best look, but TOO LATE NOW!

Now we come to the yucky bit – all that hand sewing and turning under of edges, curves, inner corners, and other tools of torture to a hand-sew-a-phobe like me!

Trim the excess off the edges
Trim the excess off the edges

I trimmed the edge a bit and clipped the outer curves. Then I pinned with long, sharp pins (I chose long pins so that the thread could get caught in the pins with each and every stitch – seriously!)

the Maverick Voodoo pin technique
the Maverick Voodoo pin technique

Then I did sew it with little invisible stitches and green thread.

Stitches are looking invisible to me
Stitches are looking invisible to me

Not too bad for someone who avoids this kind of work like a plague of nose-picking pig farmers.

Clip into the inner corners (I think)
Clip into the inner corners (I think)

When I had to work on this (the most complex) section, I clipped into the corners.

Got it pretty-much under control
Got it pretty-much under control

So that’s about it – and it’s done.

(You’re probably wondering why there is that funny line on her chest. The reason is that I started with a piece that had her face, arm and body but had the left part of her chest cut off. Rather than starting with a whole lady, I just cut the chest off of another intact lady. What was I thinking? No Idea. Just sometimes one makes silly decisions.)

Here’s the finished look…

Fiesta Beauties quilt label all finished
Fiesta Beauties quilt label all finished
close-up of Fiesta Beauties quilt label all finished
close-up of Fiesta Beauties quilt label all finished

So only four more to go!

Quilt label for Barbed Wire Betsy quilt, by Alethea Ballard
Quilt label for Barbed Wire Betsy quilt, by Alethea Ballard

Well, I actually finished the label for Barbed Wire Betsy (see this post), and I kept this one more simple!!!

I gave her a barbed-wire font!
I gave her a barbed-wire font!

So three more to go – please hold.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – the Loving Hearts Quilt

Loving Hearts
Loving Hearts

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and since it is February, you can see that my quilt finishing schedule is about four months behind.  I think I will have the Christmas quilts finished by April, but who is counting.

I want to share with you a special quilt that I made.

Love for Susan
Love for Susan

Some of you have seen a quilt on my website called Love for Susan. It was made for a dear friend when she was recovering from unexpected surgery about three years ago. I was able to get it done by the time she was sent home from the hospital and I was happy to wrap her in love and affection. She uses it all the time and has washed it many times. With the raw-edge appliques it is just soft and yummy.

I love you cup from Starbucks
I love you cup from Starbucks

The idea for the quilt came from a cup that was distributed by Starbucks. I loved the flowers which were created by hearts. It was an easy project to design and the way I made it allowed for my family help me assemble the top. For Susan’s quilt, my husband and one of my nephews glued the appliques for me and working as a team we got that sucker done in a day!

When I learned that a friend and colleague from my husband Steve and son Nathan’s work was mounting an epic battle against breast cancer, I immediately wanted to make her a quilt like Love for Susan. However, many things slowed the progress and it took me a long time to finish the project. I made all the appliques and Steve and Nathan worked with me to glue them in place. It was so nice to be able to do this together. This month we were finally able to give it to her.

She has endured three surgeries, rounds of chemotherapy and now radiation, but she is fighting a good fight and we were so glad to finally give her a token of our love, support and admiration.

I can share the ideas and designs of this quilt with you and give you instructions to make it, but because the design was distributed by Starbucks and is likely under copyright, none of us can make the pattern or the quilt to sell. But I am sure they won’t mind if we share the Loving Hearts Quilt with friends and family. It is so pretty and quick to make when you really want to support someone special.

Close up of Loving Hearts flower
Close up of Loving Hearts flower

Here’s how to make the Loving Hearts Quilt

Send me an email at maverickquilts at gmail dot com and I will email you templates for the hearts and leaves

Materials needed:

Background piece of fabric 55″ x 70″ (can be pieced if you can’t get wide yardage)

Scraps of pink fabrics

Scraps of green fabrics about 6″ x 10″

Large scraps of green fabrics (2) about 14″ x 18″

Freezer paper

UHU Glue stick or lightweight fusible web (see note below)

Sewing Directions:

1.  Make three heart sizes by folding a piece of paper in half and cutting it into three sizes (or use templates from my email – see note above). Begin with pieces of paper 6″, 5″ and 4″. Transfer the templates onto freezer paper.

2.  Rough cut chunks of pink fabrics in the three sizes. 15 of each size for a total of 45.

Note: At this point you can add fusible to the backs of each piece of fabric if you don’t like the raw-edge look and don’t want the edges to fray. Trace the heart pattern to the paper side of the fusible.

Step 3 - stack 5 pieces of fabric
Step 3 - stack 3 pieces of fabric, press to nestle the fibers

3.  Press 3 pieces of fabric in a stack

Step 4 - Pin
Step 4 - Pin

4.  Pin with flat head pins

Step 5 - Press freezer paper in place
Step 5 - Press freezer paper in place

5.  Iron the freezer paper template to the top of the stack, on top of the pins

Step 6 - cut
Step 6 - cut

6. Cut out the hearts.

Remove the freezer paper
Remove the freezer paper

create 15 of each size

7.  Use the same technique to create 22 small leaves and 2 large leaves.

8.  Create the flower stems by cutting a 1 1/2″ strip of fabric and dividing it about 2/3 of the way.

9.  Create the leaf stems by cutting a strip of fabric 3/4″ and subcut it into 22 stems 1 3/4″ long.

10.  Cut the background fabric to 55″ x 70,” or so. Put it on a large flat surface with sheets underneath (so you can iron on it) or on a design wall that you can iron on.

Step 11 - create flowers
Step 11 - create flowers

11.  begin creating the flowers by laying out 5 hearts for the middle, then add the next layer of (10) hearts to surround the center.

Step 12 - create all the flowers and add stem
Step 12 - create all the flowers and add stem

12.  Get all the flowers in place.

13.  Add the border leaves, leaf stems, flower stems and flower leaves.

14.  Fuss it all until it looks balanced and even.

Note: If you are using fusible,  press everything in place now.

Glueing instructions:

Get some help! I was able to make this quilt as a family project. My husband and my son each manned a glue stick (I prefer UHU brand) and I wielded the iron. I handed a heart to one of them and marked and removed the next one. They would glue the back side, and I would put the hearts back on the background and iron them in place. It felt good to all do something together for someone we care about.

a.  Mark each heart’s location on the background with a pin at the point and a pin at the ‘v’.

b.  Add glue to the entire back of heart, taking care not to stretch out the bias parts too much.

c.  Repeat the same system for the leaves and stems.

Leaf quilting detail
Leaf quilting detail

Quilting ideas:

If you can get it quilted on a long arm, then the whole project can be completed fairly fast.

The top edge on the longarm
The top edge on the longarm

I quilted it with lots of circles on the backgrounds, leaf veins in the leaves and hearts and circles in the hearts. By sewing about 1/4″ inside the edge of each applique, I was able to create a raw edge. This will fray nicely when you wash the quilt.

Hearts quilting detail
Hearts quilting detail

Our friend is a really girly girl, so I had to use Minkee on the back and a puffy wool batting inside. It looked so great on the back!

Then I washed it on gentle in my washing machine and dried it on medium heat in the dryer.

When it comes out of the laundry, the raw edges need a little haircut in places to make everything look clean and tidy.

Loving Hearts Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012
Loving Hearts Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012

Send me photos and messages when you finish your quilts. We can all get strength from sharing love with the brave people who are fighting cancer.

Portable ironing board – make one today!

Portable Ironing Board Covers 
Portable Ironing Board Covers

A portable ironing board can be made from two empty fabric bolts, some batting, a piece of heat resistant material, and a little cotton fabric.

Laura Nownes is the Queen of Pressing, so I shared the instructions with her for her blog, See How We Sew.

You can ask your local fabric store for a couple of empty bolts and you’ll be able to make yourself a handy ironing surface for classes or to set next to your sewing machine for those stitch and flip projects.

I used the Insul-Bright heat-resistant mylar/poly batting on top of a scrap of Warm and Natural batting, but you can also sew an insert of ironing board cover material into the front and back of the cover, like one of my students did (below).

All of the directions and pictures can be found here at Laura’s blog, See How We Sew.

Ironing Board Cover with an insert of ironing board cover fabric
Ironing Board Cover with an insert of ironing board cover fabric

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

Scrap Quilt Redux

Maverick Quilts, Using Large-Scale Prints, Novelty Fabrics, & Panels With Panache will be released mid-June, and I am excited to begin sharing projects from my book.
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Free-cut curves make great quilt blocks
Free-cut curves make great quilt blocks

A couple of years ago I began to explore free cutting curves.  I took fat eighths and layered them good sides up and cut each one differently. This way you get a pair of curvy blocks in a mirror image.  As the pieces were sewn together the most amazing shapes emerged.  Using a monochomatic color scale, I made lots of cool green pieces.  I worked without a plan and let the quilt unfold as the curved pieces were made.

I used a wide variety of motifs on the fabrics including apples, zuchini, cactus, dandelion weeds, batiks, stripes, and dots.  I was looking for an ecclectic and interesting mix.

Green Goddess quilt
Green Goddess quilt

The Green Goddess quilt was the result of this work, and it was a wedding gift to my friends. (The photos in the book are much better- don’t worry!)

The second version that I made of the Goddess quilt was Goddess Flowers, and it is the focus of one of the chapters in the book.  I used bright, cheerful Nicey Jane fabrics and combined them with a large-scale Amy Butler print for the border.

Goddess Flowers Quilt
Goddess Flowers Quilt

I want to share with you, dear readers, the process I used to create a scrap quilt from the left over pieces of the Goddess Flowers Quilt.  I heave created a photo gallery of the steps.  (the colors change throughout the photos – it is a mystery to solve!)

I needed to make a girl baby quilt, and I came across the fabric pile from the Goddess Flowers Quilt when I was cleaning up my sewing room.  I found some left over strips of fabric used in the border and the blocks, and there were little scraps of the goddess curves pieces left over from the trimming stage of the blocks.  I also had a bunch of 4″ strips of a gorgeous Heather Bailey fabric that I had auditioned for the border but ultimately didn’t use.

I began to sew the little scraps together and cut the extra strips and incorporate them into the process.  I would make squares and long ladder-like pieces and place them around the wall so that each section had a little of everything.  Then I began to arrange them on the design wall with some of the left over pink flowers and some ends from the border of the original quilt.

To make it easier for you to follow the process, I made a grid with some yarn. This way you can see how I developed the patchwork in sections that ultimately went together to make the quilt.  You can double click on the first image and then click on the next image button at the bottom of each photo to view the sequence in a larger format.  When you are done, come back to this page and see the second scrap quilt made from the same fabrics!

Borders and large chunks first
Borders and large chunks first
Add in medium-size pieces and pieced sections next
Add in medium-size pieces and pieced sections next
The top section is done and is sewn together
The top section is done and is sewn together
Add in bits that are varied in color and size in each section
Add in bits that are varied in color and size in each section
Down to three sections. Measure and trim to make them fit together
Down to three sections. Measure and trim to make them fit together
Sew scraps together to get long enough pieces for the inner border
Sew scraps together to get long enough pieces for the inner border
Inner and outer border on - ready to quilt
Inner and outer border on - ready to quilt
Throw in a little creature...
Throw in a little creature...
... or a few fish!
... or a few fish!
All quilted and ready to gift
All quilted and ready to gift
Detail of quilting
Detail of quilting - don't be afraid to use bright thread
Perfect for wrapping up a sweet little one!
A little minkee inside and it's perfect for wrapping up a sweet little one!

There were enough scraps to make a second scrap quilt.  In this one I made a bunch of scrap sections all the same length and combined them with strips and more of the unused border pieces.

Stripey scrap quilt
Stripey scrap quilt
Detail of horizontal scrappy section
Detail of horizontal scrappy section
Detail of vertical scrappy section
Detail of vertical scrappy section

This technique would also work to make placemats or pot holders from left over quilt bits and fabrics.  I hope this inspires you to make some little scrap projects.  It is really fun and satisfying

Gorgeous flowers in a border - how can you go wrong?
Gorgeous flowers in a border - how can you go wrong?