String-pieced Quilts – Report from the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show

First quilt block!
First quilt block!

Zippidy Do Da was one of the classes I taught up at the Quilter’s Affair teaching week as part of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt show week.

It was planned as a kids class, but we had lots of grown ups sign up, too! That turned out to be a great combination for me, as everyone’s work inspired each others’ and we had a lot of fun.

My youngest student, pictured here, made her first ever quilt block during the first session, and that provided me the BEST MOMENT of the entire week! She had made the block oversized and raggedy on the edges. Then she traced the 10″ template on the back for trimming. I took it and trimmed with a rotary cutter and then held it up to show her. Her face lit up so brightly and she actually jumped (practically out of her skin) for joy – it was a priceless moment and one I’ll always remember!

String-pieced cow quilt block
String-pieced cow quilt block

Everyone started with a center piece and added strips on either side.

Norman's Quilt - 6 completed blocks
Norman’s Quilt – 6 completed blocks

Some students planned the blocks to go together.

Lovely baby quilt blocks
Lovely baby quilt blocks

And other students created more improvisationally.

The busy classroom
The busy classroom

Everyone did a wonderful job…

19 of 81 completed!
19 of 81 completed!
Great improved blocks!
Great improv’d blocks!
Pretty Kaffe's in progress
Pretty Kaffe’s in progress
Susan and her amazing quilt top!
Susan and her amazing quilt top!
A whole quilt top finished in 6 hours!
A whole quilt top finished in 6 hours!

I was proud of F. for finishing her quilt top in only six hours. She was so creative to try the string piecing straight, on the diagonal and in the center triangles that we made a special foundation for. She particularly loved the Ninja fabric I had brought to share!

Sheila (AKA Baby Death Grip) and me!
Sheila (AKA Baby Death Grip) and me!

Sheila had a great large-scale cat print to inspire her quilt. We had a bit of a laugh when I was trying to figure out why her machine was making such tiny stitches. We determined that she was holding the fabric too tightly and the result was teeny stitches. She got a real kick out of my calling it the Baby Death Grip!

In all, I couldn’t have been more pleased with my ‘kids!’

V. and her fabulous quilt blocks!
V. and her fabulous quilt blocks!

Wish Upon a Card – Job Done!

Flower Bouquet Postcard, By Alethea Ballard
Flower Bouquet Postcard, By Alethea Ballard

The trip to Sister’s Outdoor Quilt Show was amazing, and I have so much to share!

I couldn’t have been happier with the beautiful framing job that HighDesert Frameworks! created for my quilted fabric postcard.

You will recall my earlier post, where I agonized about working in such a small scale, but it was all worth it because the postcard sold at the full donation price of, wait for it,… $400.00!!!

$400!
$400!

The bidding started at $50.00 and it got up to $150, before it was snatched up by someone very kind and generous (with great taste!)!

Alethea with Postcard
Alethea with Postcard

I was so very proud and happy!

Since 2007 this Community Partnership project has raised more than $60,000 for Wendy’s Wish/St. Charles Cancer Care Center.  Wendy’s Wish helps local cancer patients maintain their quality of life by assisting with non-medical expenses during treatment.

Wish Upon A Card – Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show Fundraiser

Well, I’m now gearing up for going to Sisters, Oregon, this July for the wonderful Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and The Quilter’s Affair, where wonderful classes go on all week.

One of the ways the quilt show gives back to the community is through a fund-raiser called Wish Upon a Card. The project collects money for cancer patients in the area.

Being a teacher at The Quilter’s Affair gives me the benefit of having my postcard framed and put into a silent auction during the teaching week at the high school. Last year my postcards were a bit clunky and awkward, but they looked so much better with the wonderful framing job that is provided by HighDesert Frameworks.

Making a quilted piece that is only 3″ x 5″ is a MAJOR challenge for me. This means that the pieces need to be TEENY WEENY. And I mean MINUTE!!!

My new work is all about making quilted appliques, and, with this in mind, I set out to make a little vase of flowers.

Azucar, fabric from Alexander Henry fabrics
Azucar, fabric from Alexander Henry fabrics

The only fabric that I liked for the project and which had flowers small enough for the postcard was this wonderful skull fabric – made by my boyfriend Alex, of course. I am in love with these colors right now and I loved the gold glitter on the motifs. I cut out the flowers from the eyes, chins, cheeks, foreheads, and background.

I glued little cut-out flowers on  to black batting and trimmed the edges to leave a shadow of the batting all around. I really like how this effect makes the flowers pop.

Flower placement on the postcard
Flower placement on the postcard

I created a wall and table on the 3″ x 5″ piece of fusible card and auditioned the placement of my bouquet.

Stitched borders and first stitched appliques
Stitched borders and first stitched appliques

Then I used some variegated threads and some fancy stitches and sewed around the table and the outer border. I wanted to give the piece some visual interest and texture before adding the bouquet.

The vase is made out of a fabric with cacti all over it. Some of the flowers, like the one in the above photo, were pieced from several parts of the skulls, including the eyelashes. I was working to get a balance of color and the different flowers in a variety of sizes.

Using the Ott Light magnifiying glass to see the beads
Using the Ott Light magnifying glass to see the beads

I stitched the appliques in place with gold thread on my regular sewing machine.

Then I felt compelled to add the WORLD’S SMALLEST BEADS! Look at them! They’re smaller than a really tiny thing! Can you imagine the pain I went though?!? Me who doesn’t do hand work!?! Poking myself with the needle every other minute! And I can’t even begin to talk about the size of the eye of the needle or I’ll need medication (more medication, that is!)!

Postcard finished!
Postcard finished!

I’m pretty happy with the results (after all that torture).

Fabric Bouquet postcard, by Alethea Ballard
Fabric Bouquet postcard, by Alethea Ballard 

I hope it raises loads of money, and I’m glad that I won’t have to make another one until next year!

Anyone can donate fabric postcards up to July 1 to be sold for the charity. Yes, that means you can be tortured, too!

Here’s what the website says:

Please consider donating one (or more!) fabric postcards for this worthy cause.

• Postcards should be 4” x 6”
• To be considered for Challenge prizes and silent auction, cards must be received by April 15
• We are happy to accept cards for sale up to July 1
st
• Please include your name and address and mail to:

SOQS/Wish
220 S. Ash St. #4
Sisters, OR 97759

Where’s Waldolethea? May, June & July, 2013

Busy Monster fabric bag

She’s a busy little monster!

Things are very busy for me, the Maverick Quilter, and you can catch up with me in several locations over the next couple of months!

Flocks & Frocks

First up on my calendar is a home sale down in the Carmel Highlands. Don’t you need a weekend getaway to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula?!? I think you do.

postcard

My Aunt Colleen is offering her CocoDot Designs little girl dresses and tutus. Talented artist Pamela Takigawa will be sharing her wonderful paintings. And I will have many quilts for sale, both crafty quilts and art quilts.

Pamela and Auntie Colleen are planning to make home-made goodies and lemonade, just like back in the day! Bring the kids to see the chickens and the fellas to eat the brownies. There will be something for everyone! It’s such a great place to visit that you’ll really want to come!

It's a Big World, Baby quilt made by Alethea Ballard, 2013
It’s a Big World, Baby quilt made by Alethea Ballard, 2013

I’ve got some cute baby quilts fresh off the sewing machine!

Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County
Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County

Next up I’m on my way to Santa Rosa to speak at the guild meeting at the Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County on Wednesday, May 15.

We will have a chair class workshop the following Saturday in Santa Rosa. If you’re up in that area, be sure to check in with the guild to see if you can attend the lecture or the class.

Guadalupe Chair - in progress, by Alethea Ballard, 2012
Guadalupe Chair – in progress, by Alethea Ballard, 2012
Guadalupe Chair, by Alethea Ballard, 2012
Guadalupe Chair, by Alethea Ballard, 2012
Following that I’m heading Northeast to Redding, California to teach a quilting class. Yes, It’s another chair class workshop, just especially for you folks up North!
Cyndi from The Sewing Room has scheduled a fun, free, trunk show for Friday night, June 21 and then the class for Saturday, June 22.  As of today, there are still spots available, so call the store if you want to join in the chair madness!
Crafters Mall – The Sewing Room
Address: 2665 Park Marina Dr, Redding, CA 96001
Phone:(530) 246-2056
Guadalupe Chair detail, by Alethea Ballard, 2012
Guadalupe Chair detail, by Alethea Ballard, 2012

In July I’ll be all busy teaching up in Sisters, Oregon, for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and the teaching week before it called A Quilter’s Affair. More on that soon.

As for locally, I’m still teaching the drop-in class on Wednesday nights at Wooden Gate Quilts in Danville and doing fun kids classes there, too.

Helper Kitty
Helper Kitty

Helper kitty and I say send me a note and stay in touch! We love to hear from you.

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!

Sis-ters Boom Ba; a trip to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show – Part 1

Nice Quilt wall
Nice Quilt wall at the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, Oregon

Here’s the question: is the Sister’s Outdoor Quilt Show and its week-long class extravaganza, tantalizingly named A Quilter’s Affair, worth all the hoopla and hype?

Well, put it this way: the seven-day event is like the Tour de France of quilting, the Ryder Cup of quilt teachers, and the Superbowl of quilts all in one place – just for the quilt lovers of the world to enjoy. Oh yeah, and it’s set in a stunningly beautiful setting with clean streets, good food and decent coffee. So I guess the answer is a resounding YES!

Let's go to Oregon on a small plane
Let’s go to Oregon on a small plane

The event is so big that I have to take it in bits, and I’ll walk you through it both from a teacher’s point of view and as a humble visitor.

The three sisters
The three sisters

To start with, Sisters, Oregon, is named after these three sister mountains, named Faith, Hope and Charity. They gaze down over the pretty little town and its surrounding valley.

Tree trunk
Tree trunk

It’s quite a captivating place, a little bit country…

Ponderosa Lodge Llama
Ponderosa Lodge Llama

And a lot country…

The town hosts an annual Rodeo, a yearly music festival and the quilt show. The place runs like a well-oiled machine and everyone is kind and accommodating to the hoards that descend upon this small town for these events. I can’t say that I have experienced such a positive atmosphere in a whole community before; it really is quite remarkable.

Stitchin' Post sign
Stitchin’ Post sign

The heart and soul of the quilting event is the Stitchin’ Post, which is an incredible quilt store created by Jean Wells-Keenan. She, along with her wonderful daughter Valori Wells and a fabulous staff, has been hosting the quilt show for more than 30 years.

Valori Wells' fabrics and patterns
Valori Wells’ fabrics and patterns

Valori’s talents are multifold, and they are not limited to what is on display at the store. She has designed beautiful fabrics, created many sewing patterns, and has published several successful books. Look at this lovely sight of some of her work that greets you at the door of the store!

This is just some of the yellows!
This is just some of the yellows!

A trip to the store would by itself be incentive enough to vacation in this town. The collections of fabrics are drool-erific!

More Kaffe Fasset & Co.
More Kaffe Fasset & Co.
Alexander Henry fabrics and lots of laminates
Alexander Henry fabrics and lots of laminates
Flannels!
Flannels!
White background!
White background!

For a white fabric freak like me, this aisle was enough to make me break out in hives. I can go to two or three stores and not find one fabric with a white background, and at the Stitchin’ Post there were whole ROWS of it. I was so overwhelmed I didn’t buy a thing; I couldn’t decide where to start!

My Books!
My Books!

Finding my books for sale in the store was such a pleasure, and I was doubly delighted to have Maverick Quilts and Dream Chair Quilts next to Emily Cier’s books. I had bought Scrap Republic for a dear friend as a special Christmas present!

Pretty flower arrangement
Pretty flower arrangement made by Valori’s daughter Olivia

The first night that I was there, the teachers were invited to a dinner hosted by Jean Wells-Keenan and her jovial husband John. The food was amazing and the quilted eye candy was superb!

Upholstered chair at Jean Wells' house
Upholstered chair at Jean Wells’ house

I had the pleasure of meeting many quilters that night, including Rosalie Dace, Barbara Shapel, June Jaeger, Rob Appell, Emily Cier and Scott Hansen. I’ll tell you more about these characters in future posts.

Chair upholstered with Jean Wells' quilt art
Chair upholstered with Jean Wells’ quilt art

To avoid standing around like a tourist at Disneyland taking photos of everything and anything, I only snapped a couple of pictures at Jean’s house (with permission), but I’ll just say that I wish my house looked a tiny bit like her’s.

Lego cell phone geek-wonderful
Lego cell phone geek-wonderful

To tell the truth, I felt like a fish out of water; I’ve never been great at parties. But, Valori and Jean were very kind and welcoming to me, which really helped. I was also lucky to meet Emily Cier that night and share a bit of her lego-zany-alien-phone-mojo-fun.

I was pretty tired and cranky by bedtime that night, but the adventure was just beginning!

Stay tuned…