Alethea’s January quilt – more inspirations

Serape stripes from Pintrest
Serape stripes from Pintrest

I’ve been looking for quilty love in all the right places, I’ll tell you that.

I need to create a background foundation for the January Obsession quilt before I go any farther with the appliqued flowers, and I have been looking to the imagery of the Mexican and South American serape blankets for a starting point.

With the linear nature of these textiles and the gradating stripes, the little chunks of colors in some, and the white triangles in others, I’m on track for a colorful background for the quilt. I spy black stripes, graduating monochromatic sections and bold, clear colors.

Serape blanket with white triangles in diamond shape
Serape blanket with white triangles in diamond shape

Be sure to see more of the beautiful serapes I’ve added to the Obsession Pintrest page.

My next stop for inspiration was the big quilt expo, called Road to California, which was held last weekend in Ontario, California.

Great colors and great quilting!
Great colors and great quilting!
Wonderful colors at the Loc Bloc booth
Wonderful colors at the Loc Bloc booth

I found a few quilts whose colors spoke to me!

Bad Hair Day, by Martha A. Nordstrand
Bad Hair Day, by Martha A. Nordstrand

Martha A. Nordstrand’s Bad hair day was really delightful to see with its great appliques and embroidery.

Description of Bad Hair Day, by Martha A Nordstrand
Description of Bad Hair Day, by Martha A Nordstrand

It had dimensional flowers and a tree and birds – just like my quilt will!

Detail of Bad Hair Day, by Martha A Nordstrand
Detail of Bad Hair Day, by Martha A Nordstrand

I love the jubilant nature of the design and the playful motifs.

Appliqued ribbons
Appliqued ribbons

These large spools of “appliqued ribbons” were from Vietnam, and they reminded me of the applique work I have seen from the Hmong people.

So, all this brings me to my quilt.

Bali pops
Bali pops
Bali pops side view
Bali pops side view

My original idea for the background was to sew these pre-cut strips  up into a gradating field.

Bali pops separated into 2 groups
Bali pops separated into 2 groups

When I opened up the package, I removed the strips that had brown or more dull tones. This will help keep the background more in the clear-colors that appear in the serapes that I liked the most.

More fabrics for the background
More fabrics for the background

Next, I rifled through my batik boxes (, and when I say ‘rifled through’ I do mean made a big mess,) and picked out some candidates to go with the pre-cut 2 1/2″ strips.

Colorful batik
Colorful batik

And that’s when I found this little 1 1/2 yard beauty! Mmm Humm.

It’s a crazy bit of batik I picked up at the I-can’t-be-expected-to-remember-exactly-where-I-purchased-each-and-every-fabric-I-have-in-my-stash store.

So I decided to use this piece as a foundation. It’s not as clean nor as linear as the serapes, but I think I can work with it to make an exuberant wall for my quilted flowers.

Auditioning fabrics for stripe inserts
Auditioning fabrics for stripe inserts

I began to pull together some fabrics to make a set of stripes to insert into the sunset background piece. This will serve to make the background wider and to add visual interest

There's something screwy with this sewing!
There’s something screwy with this sewing!

As I sewed the pieces together, I drove in and out to vary the stitch width and make the seams wonky.

Wonky sewing from the back
Wonky sewing from the back

It’s a bit silly to sew all funky on these pieces because I’m going to sub-cut them so small that none of the wonk will even show.

Wonky sewing from the front
Wonky sewing from the front

But it makes me happy – and I feel free and a bit naughty when I’m doing it – and that, my friends, is priceless!

Auditioning new strips in the sunset background
Auditioning new strips in the sunset background

So, I’m going to subcut my strip sets up and insert them into the background with pairs of another color above and below.

One insert row sewn together
One insert row sewn together

I only had an hour to work today, so this is as far as I got.

Stay tuned…

Oh, and by the way…

I picked up a little parting gift on my trip to L.A….

Alethea Ballard goes HQ 18!
Alethea Ballard goes HQ 18!

Yep. I did that.

Let the Quirk Begin…

Koi Pond Chairs, by Alethea Ballard (detail)
Koi Pond Chairs, by Alethea Ballard (detail)

(Read all the way to grumpy cat and the P.S. to be eligible to win a prize. Really.)

There is a very special quilt event beginning on Thursday. The San Ramon Valley Museum in Danville, California, is opening a month-long quilt exhibit.

It is called the Quirkology of Quilts – Warmth to Whimsy.

Margaret Linderman and I were asked to co-curate the biennial quilt show for the museum, which is housed in the historic railroad building at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Prospect.

We have collected an eclectic mix of new quilt work, mostly created by local quilters. Margaret and I both have some of our newest quilts included. In addition, Margaret has selected some of her wearable art clothing to display, and I have some of my small chairs on display.

One of the wonderful things about creating a show like this is that during the selection process you can create a body of work that tells a story, as the quilts relate to each other in interesting ways.

As part of this conversation we have also created displays of old and new sewing tools, pincushions, and a few hand-made monsters. There is an interesting photo collection depicting some of the influences on today’s more quirky quilts. The museum has several fascinating antique quilts that we were able to include, along with a very unusual “Maverick” quilt from the 1960’s.

I invite all of you to visit the show, which will run until September 25. For more information and hours, please visit the museum’s website. http://www.museumsrv.org

Official Quirkology of Quilts flyer
Official Quirkology of Quilts flyer

But wait, you also get…

There are two quilts that you can win for your very own selfiepoo.  There is a raffle quilt; the tickets will be on sale at the museum. (photo coming soon)

Shibori Bouquet, by Margaret Linderman
Shibori Bouquet, by Margaret Linderman

The above quilt, made my Margaret Linderman, will be the prize for the Quilt Treasure Hunt. To win this beautiful quilt, you can pick up a postcard that lists the location of seven quilts, each of which are hanging in a Danville business within walking distance of the museum. Fill out the postcard when you have discovered all of the quilts’ locations and turn it in to the museum to be eligible for a drawing of this lovely wall hanging. Eat, shop, win a quilt – awesome!

But Wait You Also, Also Get a BIG Hello!

I would like to extend a special welcome to those of you who are visiting my blog for the first time! You might be visiting me after reading Laura Nownes’ blog, See How We Sew. It is a delight to be interviewed by Laura for her blog. I hope you like the free project that I shared, which shows the steps to make a portable ironing board using empty fabric bolts.

I invite you to scroll through my blog posts. I write about my current work, things that inspire me, quilts I like, and about my greatest passion – fabric!

Mavis Quinn (again)
Mavis Quinn (again)

A strange person called Mavis Quinn sometimes uses my site to post her ramblings written for Where Cuckoo Women Create Magazine .com.org.biz. Take what she says with a grain (or pound) of salt!

To get you exploring the site, I would like to offer you an opportunity to win a special prize – I will make a wonderful tote bag and put an image from my newest painted quilt, Koi Pond Chairs, on it just for you!

To win the cool tote bag, send me a comment below and tell me your favorite image from the blogs, I will put your name in my cool, red Disneyland hat and randomly pick a winner on Friday night at 9:00 P.M. PST. With the help of grumpy cat, Scott Hastings.

Scott Hastings
Scott Hastings

Enjoy!

P.S. Of course all of you faithful blog subscribers are welcome to enter the drawing – as you know I have never offered a free prize before!!! So stingy!

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

Don’t tell my husband about my boyfriend, please!

I have been hanging out with my boyfriend Alexander Henry again.  Don’t tell my husband!

Matisse Arm Chair detail
Matisse Arm Chair detail

OK, so Alexander Henry is not an actual person, but for the sake of one’s fabric obsessions, let’s just pretend he is.

For us fabric fanatics, we can create deep bonds with our fabric and get very attached.  How many times have I heard someone say, “I just CAN’T cut it up!”  It is that idea that if you cut it into pieces, that you’ll never see it again – how silly is that?  When you make a quilt that’s exactly what you do – you get to see it over and over again – right in the quilt.

The trick is to use that fabric in a quilt for you!  The other trick is to us a large enough piece that you don’t feel like you’ve wrecked it.  That is one of the best parts of the using your favorite fabric in a dream chair.

It’s been a while since I made a chair quilt (OK, only about six weeks, but that is an eternity in the dream chair world).

So I went into the fabric closet (OK, ONE of the fabric closets) and pulled out some pieces that would make super cool chairs.

I had recently bought a fabric with images of Matisse ladies, that included images of the artist’s painted chairs and his quintessential leaf cut outs.  That was a fo sho choice.  I love the idea of chair fabrics on chair quilts.  The quilt was a real joy to make – I just popped this baby right out!

Matisse Arm Chair
Matisse Arm Chair by Alethea Ballard

When I am creating and things are going well there is this wave of positive energy that I get – it is like some great Seratonin rush – you know like eating good chocolate or something.  How can I create with this amazing fabric and not fall in love with my boyfriend along the way?

Matisse Arm Chair detail
Matisse Arm Chair detail
Matisse Arm Chair detail
Matisse Arm Chair detail

Then, I was thinking, how about a cowboy quilt?  I brought out my pile of cowboy fabrics, and then I found Rodeo Girl and a bunch of other cool cowboys and bandanna and stuff – kickin’!  Check out the Dream Chair Corral – chair of the week – she deserves her own post!!!

Humph.  How funny that all of these fabrics were made by my paramour?

I never paid attention to fabric manufacturers until I started to write Maverick Quilts, but now as I pull fabrics out of my pile(s), I find that so many of them are Alexander Henry’s.

Here are the things I love about AH fabrics:  1. The colors     2. The large-scale motifs     3. The images

Do you think there is something wrong with me?  Please say no.

I am happy to say that my dates with Alex (I call him Alex) have been going well.

By the way, one of  my students told me that she had been hanging out with Alex, too.  Do you think he’s two-timing me?