Tag Archives: alexander henry fabrics

Margaret’s Muse – The Frida Quilt

 

Margaret's Muse Quilt Center. Frida Kahlo

Margaret’s Muse Quilt Center. Frida Kahlo

It was a dark and stormy night…

And we decided to make a birthday quilt for our friend, mentor and teacher Margaret Linderman.

And we decided to make it a surprise!

And we wanted all of her peeps to be able to create a part of the quilt.

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I thought of the French Roses quilt, created by Heather French.  It is a versatile, layered, fabric flower that Margaret and her students have made many times for many people.

I drew up a layout with the blocks on point that would have 50 flowers – enough to include many friends!

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Then I added in a center that could have an image of Margaret’s muse, Frida Kahlo, in a flaming corazon.

Margaret’s daughter Janis Stob and I sent out packets of background fabric, a black shadow for each flower (to add a visual punch) and inspiration appliques. It will surprise none of you that I have quite a collection of Alexander Henry fabrics from which to draw folklorico inspiration!

When the blocks came in we gathered at Wooden Gate Quilts, in Danville, and worked on a layout.

The crew working on the layout

The crew working on the layout

 

Jamie in the center

Jamie in the center

Janis sewed the blocks all together, making many extra where we needed more, leaving the hole in the middle for Frida.

Quilt center in progress

Quilt center in progress

I created a heart from dupioni silk and cut flames out of bright batiks. Margaret’s favorite image of Frida Kahlo was printed on to fabric to adorn the center.

Raw-edge appliqes with black batting

Raw-edge appliqes with black batting

To make an exciting edge to the heart I glued lots of small flower appliques to a layer of black batting which would add dimension, color and texture. I stitched them all on the longarm and cut them out with the black shadows visible.

Center in Progress. Adding appliques and a frame

Center in Progress. Adding appliques and a frame

The appliques surrounded the corazon and then I created a frame for the photo of Frida.

Border corazon

Border corazon

The outer “border” was composed of more corazons, most made by Janis Stob and Kathy August.
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The quilt began to take shape!

Of course, even though we started MONTHS in advance, the quilt didn’t get on to the longarm until the DAY BEFORE THE PARTY.  And we still had to add bling and bind it!IMG_6486

I had a marathon 6 hours on the longarm to get it all quilted!

Late night bling crew!

Late night bling crew!

That night we had a bling and binding party! You won’t believe how fast Pat DeForce got that binding on for us!

Frida Flower

Frida Flower

We added crystals, beads, do-dads, bobbles, milagros and anything else we got our hands on to make the quilt more “Margaret!”

Margaret's Muse quilt center

Margaret’s Muse quilt center

The next day we threw her a surprise party!

Please hold for Part 2, wherein we give Margaret the quilt!

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Look for our quilt at Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California, this weekend!


January is Make YOURSELF a Quilt Month – I have spoken

Alexander Henry fabric - amazona

Alexander Henry fabric – amazona

January is Make YOURSELF a Quilt Month – I have spoken and therefore it shall be…

What’s the deal, you ask?

The holidays are over – as I mentioned in the last post – and it’s time to move on. As creative people we are often compelled to make quilts for people as gifts – in fact, many of us make ALL of our quilts as gifts.

This can be both positive and negative.

The positives include: You feel good giving a special gift. People like getting hand-made things. You made it super special. You actually finished a project.

Here are some negatives: It’s an expensive way to give a gift. You worked outside your palette or comfort zone and didn’t enjoy it. It came out “ugly.” It took a long time. The person doesn’t always understand or appreciate what you put into to making the quilt. It gets put into a closet. You rarely see the quilt (if ever) again. It gets used as a dog bed. It ends up as a doormat. And so on.

I know we all feel like a quilt is the “perfect” gift, especially when someone has a baby. So make a baby quilt for yourself, your sibling, or your grandchild. Good plan. But, you don’t have to make a quilt for your aunt’s cousin’s hairdresser’s dog walker’s step-daughter. Draw the line, people. Just because an egg has been fertilized somewhere in the continuous United States DOESN’T MEAN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO MAKE IT A QUILT! Buy a onsie or a stuffed giraffe once in a while, for Pete’s sake!

I think and fret a lot if I am making a quilt for someone else, whether it is a commission or a gift. I worry about the theme, tone, fabrics, colors, size, pattern, quality of workmanship and everything else there is to perseverate over. And that, my friends, is just NO FUN!

When I’m making myself a quilt I take risks, I make mistakes, I work very fast and spontaneously, and I really enjoy it. Except when it tortures me and looks ugly. But even that’s OK with me!

The real reason that I want you to make a quilt for yourself is that you make such interesting choices when you create for yourself. You don’t have to worry if the recipient will like it, if it will “go” with their stuff, if it will be appreciated. Often you’re bolder, braver, and, I hope, happier when you’re working with a beloved palette, with fabric you love, on a quilt you’re excited to make. If you have to make adjustments you’ll feel less stressed. And you’ll most likely enjoy the process more and care less about the product!

So it’s make yourself a quilt month and that means me, too.

I have to do some quilt work for other people this month, but at least twice a week I am going to work on a quilt just for me. I would like to share my process with all of you. Even if it ends up a big hot mess (as my friend Kris says.) I hope you’ll join me on my journey!

I have only a vague idea of what I am going to make. It’s going to have huge quilted applique flowers and leaves. It will have vibrant colors.

I am going to make it up as I go.

Fabric Bouquet postcard, by Alethea Ballard

Fabric Bouquet postcard, by Alethea Ballard

I want to take the feel of this tiny postcard with the quilted appliques and bow it up HUGE!

Inspiration for this project comes from my love of certain colors and imagery that I often find in Mexican art and tiles. I have been pinning on a Pintrest board I’ve titled Obsession – see it here.

Alexander Henry fabric - flores de coyocan

Alexander Henry fabric – flores de coyocan

 This new fabric from Alexander Henry is a good starting point.
Skulls and Hearts - quilted and painted - more fabric from Alexander Henry

Skulls and Hearts – quilted and painted – more fabric from Alexander Henry

I’ve been quilting and painting on these fabrics…

Tree of life from Pintrest

Tree of life from Pintrest

And this is really where I get the most excited!!!

I started a flower today!

I cut shapes out of batik and cotton prints.

flower 1 - view 1

flower 1 – view 1

flower 1 - view 2

flower 1 – view 2

flower 1 - view 3

flower 1 – view 3

flower 1 - view 4

flower 1 – view 4

flower 1 - view 5

flower 1 – view 5

flower 1 - view 6

flower 1 – view 6

Ultimately the flower needed seven petals.

The next step was to turn the flower parts into appliques – quilted on to batting.

I chose black batting because I really want the appliques to have a very definite edges and a sharp, coloring book look.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 7

Quilted petal parts – flower view 7

Here the petals get layered on to the black batting on the long arm.

I quilted the inner parts of the petals using both a variegated orange Superior Rainbows thread and a solid lime green polyester in the needle and a darker pink variegated thread in the bobbin.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 8

Quilted petal parts – flower view 8

The quilting is really scribbly and I don’t like how it came out. I didn’t glue the pieces down and the edges got all puckery.  The batting was all stretchy and it moved a lot under the needle. At this point I’m thinking I’ve wrecked it all.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 8

Quilted petal parts – flower view 8

I cut the parts of the petals out, leaving about a quarter of an inch of the batting showing.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 9

Quilted petal parts – flower view 9

I quilted the inner ring of petals separately because I thought it needed the punch of the black edges.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 10

Quilted petal parts – flower view 10

I’m going to need to quilt the center, but maybe it’s not totally terrible after all.

Stay tuned…


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


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.


Must Have Fabric 3 – If Looks Could Kill!

Ghastlie Dollie

Ghastlie Dollie

Alexander Henry Fabrics has sent another visual valentine to us fabric lovers.

It is a Must Have Fabric! I have spoken and it shall be so!

With last year’s Ghastlies series, we reveled in wonderful fabric that featured images from the strangest dinner party ever, and this year we can join this oddball group in A Ghastlies Family Reunion.

Ghastlie Family Reunion from Alexander Henry Fabrics

Ghastlie Family Reunion from Alexander Henry Fabrics

It comes in several colors, including mauve, grey and green. (I suspect it comes in a white background, too, but I haven’t seen it yet.)

Clad in costumes from the Roaring 20’s, these upper-class socialites seem to be frozen in tableaux whose meanings we can only guess at.

A Ghastlie Family Reunion fabric from Alexander Henry Fabrics

A Ghastlie Family Reunion fabric from Alexander Henry Fabrics

Family portrait?

Family portrait?

Last year’s fabric featured a beribboned girl holding a hammer.  My friends and I refer to the dress-wearing tomboy as “little Alethea.” She really reminded me of myself, the dress, the tool, and the perpetual pout!

Little Alethea

Little Alethea

There is a new (old) member of staff, the butler Cobblestone.

Cobblestone the butler

Cobblestone the butler

We also have some new family members.

Baby

Baby Bertram

Cousin Georgie

Cousin Georgie joins Frederick and the cat

Carlotta and her dollie

Cousin Carlotta and her dollie

Cousin Zelda (peeking out from Aunt Georgetta's skirt)

Cousin Zelda (peeking out from Aunt Georgetta's skirt)

If looks could kill...

If looks could kill...

One wonders what is going on between these two ladies. There must be more than meets the eye. Could it have something to do with the expecting mother and her wayward husband?

Happy couple?

Happy couple?

So now the question remains… what to make with this fabric?

I can see some great bags, placemats, and pillows on the horizon.

As for quilts, well, let’s see. Laura Nownes Shoji Screen Quilt pattern would be nice.

Shoji Screen Quilt, pattern from Laura Nownes

Shoji Screen Quilt, pattern from Laura Nownes

Think of the fun fabrics and images you could put inside the frames. Alexander Henry has some fun companion fabrics that will read solid for the frame fabric.

One of my friends from Wooden Gate Quilts is already making a 9-Patch Pizzazz from Judy Sisnero’s fabulous book. (Which I wish I had written!)

9-Patch Pizzazz, by Judy Sisneros

9-Patch Pizzazz, by Judy Sisneros

I can’t wait to see how it develops!

Large-scale prints like this are also great for quilts from my book Maverick Quilts. Try it in Superstars, California Housetop, in the off blocks in Bella Boxes, or as the central panel in Lovely Landscape. Any of these would be great!

Or, how about the Show Off pattern in the book?

Show Off Summer Quilt, by Alethea Ballard, 2010. 65" x 76.5"

Show Off Summer Quilt, by Alethea Ballard, 2010. 65" x 76.5"

Show Off Jewels Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2010. 65" x 76.5"

Show Off Jewels Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2010. 65" x 76.5"

As always, sorry for the photo quality! (The publisher sent me a CD with all of the nice photos from the book, but I can’t figure out how to open them, silly me!)

For my Ghastlies quilt, I chose the Show Off pattern.

Show Off Ghastlies Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2011

Show Off Ghastlies Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2011

This quilt is made from the fabric which came out last year, and I used both the green and grey background versions for the block centers. The frames are made in black, grey, green, pink and then I threw in some purple just for fun.

I used the white version in the border

I used the white version in the border

Poor wee Frederick

Poor wee Frederick

Unlike the Show Off Quilt in the book, I included sashing between each horizontal set and added a wide band a single fabric. On the band I created a funny portrait gallery with images from the fabric.

Upper Chambermaid Dorset

Upper Chambermaid Dorset

I made frames for each portrait by fussy cutting fabric and fusing it wown. You should have heard me cackling as I finished each one!

Aunt Agnes

Aunt Agnes

Love the hair!

Ghastlie Family portrait gallery

Ghastlie Family portrait gallery

Do you see the cat’s ears on the top of Father’s portrait and the four cat feet on the bottom? I will stitch everything down with the quilting.

Ringing for the maid - a Ghastlie dinner! Look at miserable little Frederick!

Ringing for the maid - a Ghastlie dinner! Look at miserable little Frederick!

Please send me photos of what you make from this MUST HAVE FABRIC! I always love to see your work!

Happy quilting!


Maverick Quilts – Goddess

Rivoli Goddesses

Rivoli Goddesses

The blog has been quiet but the sewing machine loud!  I have been working on quilts like a madwoman and have lots of new work to show y’all.

I have just made a new version of the Goddess quilt in the super-hip Alexander Henry Rivoli Girl fabric. These modern, slightly-coy girls just called out to me to be featured in a quilt. Boy, do I love fabric with people on it.

I know you can get some of this fabric at the delightful Wooden Gate Quilts store in Danville, California right now. I have also spied this fabric in other colors at Fabric.com, and I just Might have to get me some in anther colorway – just MIGHT! Rivoli Girl fabric from Fabric.com.

I love making these curved blocks. I use half of a quarter yard (a fat eighth) and free-cut the curves. Each pairing of fabric makes two curvy blocks and then I have some fun long strips to play with and put into the blocks.

Goddess block in progress

Goddess block in progress

I audition all the curve strips on the wall and play with possible sashing ideas.

In progress on the design wall

In progress on the design wall

I am teaching this quilt as a class in Danville at Wooden Gate Quilts. You can contact them for information about the class. Wooden Gate Quilts If you are nervous about trying this on your own, sign up; I would love to teach you how to make these fun curves.

For the Rivoli Goddesses, I made the blocks 17″ and used a 2″ sashing with posts. I used the left over fabrics for a fun scrappy outer border. Yes, please!

Rivoli Goddesses, by Alethea Ballard; 2011

Rivoli Goddesses, by Alethea Ballard; 2011

For those of you who are making the Goddess quilt out of the book, and for those of you who are making the curvy border for the Jalousie quilt in Maverick Quilts, the following images might help you get into the rhythm of the cutting and pinning. This is meant simply to give further information if you’re working out of the book; it is not the whole set of instructions.

First – you must make sure that you stack your two pieces of fabric so the right sides both face up – do not make them pretty sides in!!!

Rotary cut the curves

Rotary cut the curves

Then use your rotary cutter to create a gentle curve down the middle of the block.

trim a scant 1/4"

trim a scant 1/4"

Clip the inner part of the curves a scant quarter inch and about 1/4″ apart.

Again I want to remind you that the image in the book for the curves cutting is wrong!

Bad left image! Good right image

Bad left image! Good right image

Clip the concave part of the curve only – the image on the left of this image is very naughty – it’s wrong. Just cross it out so you remember that the image on the right is the correct one! Thanks!

use ruler to mark opposite seams

use ruler to mark opposite seams

Put the pairs pretty sides in and mark opposite sides of the seams to create markers for the pin placement.

all ready for the pins

all ready for the pins

Mark the apex of each curve and its opposite side. Then you will pin only where you marked.

The rest is just sewing, pressing and trimming. Easy-ish!

I really hope you try this technique out! I really love it.

Here is a close up of Goddess flowers, which is in the book.

Pretty, Pretty quilting

Pretty, Pretty quilting


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!


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


Fabric Designers – the nicest people on earth – Part 2 the Royal Family

How darling is this cupcake?

How darling is this cupcake?

The Royalty of Fabricland!

Here is the post you all have been waiting for.  It seems difficult to believe that there really are more fabulous fabric designers out there in the world, but, believe me, THERE ARE!

As I noted in Part 1, the fabric designers bring JOY to us humble quilters.  We delight in the elation that each new fabric creates in our teeny tiny hearts. We live for that feeling we have when we see a new color or pattern that makes us excited, hopeful and fulfilled all at the same time.  The next step, of course, is to then OWN a piece of each of these coveted fabrics!  But that’s a blog for a later day.

The King and Queen of Fabricland!

I cannot write about the Royal fabric designers without mentioning the creative team from Alexander Henry Fabrics.  Strangely enough, I did not take any pictures of the Alexander Henry booth nor of the designers!  I was so busy trying to be cool when I talked to the King and Queen of fabric, Phillip and Nicole de Leon, the brother-sister part of the creative team, that I didn’t even snap one photo.

I was able to show Phillip the pages from Maverick Quilts that featured his fabric!  True to my super-uncool self I only talk-spit on him a little when I gushed admiration, and I barely avoided fainting dead away when Nicole showed me her darling cats on chairs fabric!  But, other than that, things went well.  They let me ferret about and look at all the fabric samples and didn’t even call security once.

Incandescent Indigos from Alexander Henry's Larkspur fabric line

Incandescent Indigos from Alexander Henry's Larkspur fabric line

I will tell you, however, that the booth was all decked out in an Indigo theme and everything was a rich feast of Asian blue and linen colors.  Delicious.  And while I claim that fabric designers are the nicest people in the world, the truth is that the Alexander Henry team is absolutely the most stylish team.  Each of the people in the booth are dressed L.A. Chic, impeccably tailored in their gorgeous clothes, and so fashion forward.  My friend Ashley and I had seen a tall, slender man dressed just so in a restaurant in the morning.  Great belt, vest, shoes – not over the top – just too cool for the quilted vest, elastic waist quilting scene.  Of course, he turned up working in the Alexander Henry booth later in the day – I rest my case!

Tula Pink with Ashley and me

Tula Pink with Ashley and me

The Princess!

The Princess of Fabricland has to be Tula Pink.  The Converse All-Star-high-top-wearing maven of the creative fabrics!  She greets you like a friend even if you’re a troll, and she is kind and friendly and willing to pose with anyone (see Ashley and me above and Elliot below).

Tula and Elliot

Tula and Elliot

Even the traveling Ken doll known as Elliot got his own photos shoot with her!  I would love to know the story about Elliot, but suffice to say Tula was a sport about posing with him.  (She ignored Mavis Quinn’s request to take a photo if Elliot nestled in between Tula’s “girls”, but I think that just shows that Tula is a sensible girl and Mavis is a weirdo.  But I digress.)

Her new fabrics from the Prince Charming line are fabulous and the colors are sublime!  There is just something about Tula that makes you want to be near her and you hope that some of her amazing creativity will rub off on you.

Well folks, this brings me to the end of the story.  “But wait,” you say, like a little child on granny’s lap. ” Is that all?  Can’t you tell me another story?”  Oh, yes, little ones.  There is just one more member of the royal court of Fabricland, the great High Empress, Amy Butler!

The Empress of all Fabricland!

She is the fairest in the land, and I know if there were a small pea under her pile of mattresses (made from her lovely fabrics) she would toss and turn and not sleep a wink!

Amy and me at the Fall market in Houston

Amy and me at the Fall market in Houston

I met Amy at fall market in Houston and she was so nice to me and kind and pretty and TALL that I was just floored.  I showed her how her fabric was on the cover of my fist book Dream Chair Quilts and she was so happy for me and she said the nicest things!  She even bent down when we had our photo taken together so I wouldn’t look so much like the short little troll that I am!

The Incomprable Amy Butler

The incomparable Amy Butler

This year Amy was there with her new fabrics which come in several weights like laminates, organics, and decorator weights, and voile.  (Whatever that is.  As it is NOT for quilting and therefore is non-fabric for most of us, I have no idea.)  There she was, just standing there beaming like the Most Wonderful Royal Highness that she is.  We got to talk and take pictures and everything!

Amy with Ashley and me at Spring Market

Amy with Ashley and me at Spring Market

The Court Jester!

Someday, when I get my own fabric line, I plan to be grumpy and recalcitrant, and I will not be nice to anyone.  KIDDING!

But, I do know that I will never be Fabricland Royalty.  And that is fine with me.  It’s too much of a burden anyway and I imagine one’s head gets tired of wearing those big, heavy crowns!


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