Streak of Lightning Quilt – Make one today!

Rainbow Streak of Lightning
Rainbow Streak of Lightning

If you’re looking for a super quick, classic, quilt pattern with endless variety, then hop over and pick up my Streak of Lightning pattern at PatternSpot.com today! They are having a 20% off sale until August 23, 2105. Use the code KIDS2015  Here’s the link.

Pretty Eyelet
Pretty Eyelet
Open-weave eyelet with backing
Open-weave eyelet with backing

I’ve made this quick quilt as a wonderful rainbow quilt for a teen or tween. It was really fun at use all eyelet for the whites…

Auditioning the rainbow!
Auditioning the rainbow!

…and pull together bits of every color. (Actually, you might notice that I’ve totally skipped the red and added in turquoise, but other than that…)

Red Streak detail
Red Streak detail

The Streak of Lightning pattern is actually an old traditional pattern, usually completed in two colors, like this red and white version.  I had seen a vintage one when I was working on the last museum show and it inspired me to make some kid versions.

Streak of Lightning Birdies
Streak of Lightning Birdies

I first made a small version with bird fabrics and textured cottons from Andover.

Bee Streak was made with half-size blocks
Bee Streak was made with half-size blocks

Bee Streak detailThen I made the Bee Streak with some dotted swiss and Heather Ross fabrics – super cute and soft!

Zombie Streak of Lightning
Zombie Streak of Lightning

Making the Zombie Streak of Lightning was my favorite because I got to use all of my skulls, skeletons, mustaches, music notes, zombies, flames and so much more to make a great graduation gift for a friend!

Little Robot in border
Little Robot in border

I scrappied up the border something good!

Zombie Streak quilting detail
Zombie Streak quilting detail

And quilted it in a neon green!  Boo YA!

What are you inspired to make today?

 

 

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Cantankerous Kitty and the Birthday Quilts

Scott Hastings pretending to be a cutie
Scott Hastings pretending to be a cutie

Let me introduce you to our cat Scott Hastings, who passed away last month.

Now, don’t be swayed by the photos – he was not exactly a little cutie!

He was a remarkable guy who blew through his nine lives in about two years and lived the next 16 years on borrowed time. He almost died from a million things including being shot by a BB gun many times, broken spine bone, crazy bacterial infection, multiple face surgeries after cat fights, lacerated tongue with plenty of stitches, just to name a few.

Scott Hatings in a rare moment of repose
Scott Hastings in a rare moment of repose

We named him Scott Hastings after the ballroom dancer from the movie “Strictly Ballroom,” and he went by many nicknames, Grumpy Dude being the favorite one towards the end there.

Scott was the LOUDEST, most vocal cat I’ve ever seen, and as he went deaf in the last few years, he took to howling in the bathtub – charming.

He was really my son’s cat. He picked my son out at the pet store by snagging his shirt with a claw when we walked by. He was a bit older than the age of a kitten we wanted, but it was clear from the start that he was going to be Nathan’s cat.

Cowboy Trip Around the World, by Alethea Ballard; 1993
Cowboy Trip Around the World, by Alethea Ballard; 1993

I have made a quilt for my son about every 10 years. When he was 8, I made this Trip Around the World, which was on his bed or his wall for ever. It was made of all cowboy fabrics and a great starry border fabric from Robert Kaufmann fabrics.

Fly By Blue, by Alethea Ballard; 2003
Fly By Blue, by Alethea Ballard; 2003

Then, at 18, I made a very manly quilt for Nathan, which ended up in my book Maverick Quilts. It’s all from 1/4 yard pieces of blue batik with great green “butterflies.”

Bit O'Blarney Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2013
Bit O’Blarney Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2013

Now that he’s 28, I figured it was about time for a new quilt. I made him an Irish flag quilt with his favorite lucky charm, shamrocks, on it.  I absolutely love it and I think he does, too!

Sharing the birthday quilt, mother & son
Sharing the birthday quilt, mother & son

Most of the fabrics in the quilt are of something that has meaning to us and I was able to use many of my conversation prints – always a good thing. From the State of California to golf to football to barbecuing, all of Nathan’s interests are there.

Of course, I had to include Grumpy Dude, right?

I started with a fabric that had an orange cat. But it was too light, and didn’t have Scott’s white bib, his deep orange parts, or the right face shape.

So I got out the fabric paints, added fabric medium, and went to town.

cat image on fabric - no paint
Cat image on fabric – no paint
Adding white to fabric
Adding white to fabric
Finished portrait of Scott on fabric
Finished portrait of Scott on fabric

Not too bad, right?

Scott and Priscilla the Silver Purse
Scott and Priscilla the Silver Purse
Detail of Bit O'Blarney Quilt, by Alethea Ballard
Detail of Bit O’Blarney Quilt, by Alethea Ballard

I’ll finish the binding on the quilt any minute now and give it to my son to keep!

Post script: Scott passed away at home after being able to say goodbye to Nathan. He’s buried under the redwood tree he used to climb.

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

Mavis Quinn – Bleat, Clay, Blubber

Mavis Quinn, Bleat, Clay, Blubber
Mavis Quinn, Bleat, Clay, Blubber

This is a Special Report by intenerate (illiterate, Ed.) cub reporter, Mavis Quinn…

Hello Dreary Readers,

I am happy to say that I am back, out of jail, on parole, and ready for my next assignment for my great magazine Where Cuckoo Women Create.com.org.biz.

As you may know my Editor-Who-Is-Large sent me on a year-long assignment called Bleat, Clay, Blubber, based upon a best-selling book by that name.

You see, Marvin had decided to “spend some time apart” from me so he could “delve more deeply into his analog radio repair business.” Where have I heard that before?

I was shattered to say the lease, so Editor thought it would be best for me to go abroad. She asked me to cover the wool industry in New Zealand, the pottery industry in China, and the whale bone jewelry of the peoples of southern Argentina. These places all seemed really, really far away, but what Editor wants Editor gets!

In the end what I really found was my inner fleece and the meaning of strife.

Read on…

Faithful companion, Tanya
Faithful companion, Tanya

For the first leg of the journey I spent three months in the wilds of New Zealand, living with a flock of sheep and a dog called Tanya.

Canned or fresh - there really is nothing like opossum for dinner!
Canned or fresh – there really is nothing like opossum for dinner!

I lived on opposum meat and kiwi fruit.

My flock of sheep - the little one was my favorite - Mitsy
My flock of sheep – the little one was my favorite – Mitsy

Not too much happened, but I am happy to report to you all that yes, sheep do indeed bleat. And often. AND LOUDLY! And they do have a lot of wool.

My ship - the Turpentine nosebleed, or something like that
My ship – the Turpentine Nosebleed, or something like that

The first mission accomplished and it wasn’t a day before I was shipped, and I mean on a ship – for seven weeks – to Mongolia to live in a yurt and explore where the best clay comes from. Who knew Mongolia had clay? I thought it was all dust storms and beef.

My Mongolian host family
My Mongolian host family

The first thing I realized is that there would be no yummy Mongolian Beef dinner like the stuff I get at my local Mongolian restaurant, The Dusty Yurt.

This might have been one of my sheep
This might have been one of my sheep

To “welcome” me to the village, my host family made me a special dinner – roasted whole lamb. It looked just like my favorite lamb Mitsy, and I burst into tears and ran out of the yurt!

After that I took to my grubby yurt bed and didn’t come out for a week.

When I did emerge, I set about the task my editor sent me on – finding good clay.

My Mongolian yurt and the "hills"
My Mongolian yurt and the “hills”

The locals were very kind and shared their clay with me by slathering it on my face each day, before sending me to “watch” for storms at the top of the highest hill.

KYRT Radio
KYRT Radio

It was not a happy time for me, as these people listen to the carpet radio all day and it just made me miss Marvin all the more. I begged Editor to send me elsewhere and she happily obliged.

The Kon Tiki - not as big as the Turpentine Nosebleed
The Kon Tiki – not as big as the Turpentine Nosebleed

Traveling alternately by ox cart, camel, rickshaw, the shoulders of a Yeti, the Kon Tiki, and a canoe carved out of an endangered Lupo tree, I arrived at the final leg of my journey, a stay with the native population of the Southern Argentinian coast.

My host family in Tierra del Fuego
My host family in Terra del Fuego

Meeting my host family was nice, but I really felt overdressed for the occasion.

They did have jewelry, but not so much whale bones. More feathers, actually.

Tierra del Fuego - My home for 37 days
Terra del Fuego – My home for 37 days

They had a lot more birds, and a few seals.

My host family in Tierra del Fuego in their Sunday best
My host family in Tierra del Fuego in their Sunday best

I didn’t understand a word they said, and I was very cold all of the time. Everyone got dressed up (in feathers) on Sundays (or Thursdays – I couldn’t be sure) and we all ate bird meat and seal meat and there was quite a bit of belching.

I couldn’t find much of that whale bone jewelry baloney and frankly I was tired of traveling around and stuff. So, I gathered up a pile of bones I found in an old building (The National Museum, Ed), and after my toes had completely frozen off, I packed my bags and headed home.

My trusty plane
My (t)rusty plane

This time I got to take a plane.

That’s where the trouble started. You see, I was on the plane with my pile of whale bones and someone got it into their head that I was a voodoo priceless or something (Priestess, Ed.)

The guys who arrested me
The guys who arrested me

So, when I got off the plane some police people took me in a little room and took all my whale bones away from me.

Apparently these are not whale bones
Apparently these are not whale bones

Then they arrested me and put me in a jail cell with a woman called Simone.

Apparently my bones were not those of a whale. How was I supposed to know that they were some national treasure of a dinosaur? Do I look like a Palintologist? (Paleontologist, Ed.)

Simone - my cellmate
Simone – my cellmate

Now Simone was a very interesting person who kept claiming that she was being falsely imprismed. (imprisoned – Ed.) But I know that I was the one who was not a criminal and that led to a fight where we slapped each other a very much lot and then my nose got broken and I had to go to the hospital and then Editor had to come and get me and she was mad. And when I say mad I mean really angry.

So next up she wants me to look into this computer thing called Pinetreerest. I think it’s about some green trees.

(The views expressed here are entirely those of Mavis Quinn and not our magazine. Any animals harmed in the making of this post are not our responsibility. Editor)

P.S. I miss Mitsy.

Must Have… fabrics for January 2013

Amy Butler Alchemy fabric
Amy Butler Alchemy fabric

It all starts with fabric.

And it all ends with fabric.

And it’s all fabric in between!

Now, I’ve been to four different fabric stores in the past week and NOWHERE did I see this fabric!

Since I got some fabric store time in this year, I felt it was time to “behave”, so I finally tackled my (285) unread emails, and I am glad I DID!

I came across this post from a great website called True Up (for the fabric obsessed). If you’re not a fan yet, you can subscribe and she’ll send you wonderful emails all about fabric.

Kim wrote about the new Amy Butler Alchemy fabrics and they actually stopped my tiny, cold heart.

As you know I can’t get enough of large-scale prints, so I’m really hoping that in person these prints are LARGE!

Over at Amy’s website you can view the whole she-bang and what a great line it is!

Even though I haven’t seen it on the shelves yet, but i did spy some online at Fabricworm and other places, so I’m going to stomp my tiny cold feet until I get some!!!

Amy Butler sketchbook roses laminated
Amy Butler sketchbook roses laminated

Look at this color! and it comes in laminated fabric – great for bags!

Amy Butler sketchbook roses cream organic
Amy Butler sketchbook roses cream organic

And it comes in organic!

Amy Butler victoriana:port
Amy Butler victoriana:port

And there are some great other designs in the line!

I wish I could just do all fabric all day long!!! Cut, sew, touch, buy, design, cuddle!

And the winners are…

Well, I decided since you were all so sweet (and I really didn’t want to do three different drawings) that I would pick three winners for the free Art of the Quilt Calendar Birthday Giveaway, as the publisher had sent me three free copies to give away. And then the lucky winners could all receive them before Christmas (just in case they MIGHT be giving it as a gift)!

I felt a lot of pressure about picking the numbers, so I consulted my friend Gigi Google and she picked for me.

Screen shot 2012-12-15 at 11.56.50 AM
Screen shot 2012-12-15 at 11.56.50 AM

If you have your microscope out you’ll see that numbers 11, 6 & 9 won the drawing!

My detectiving indicates that means that Hilda (featured in this blog), Cyndy and Cassandra are the WINNERS!, Congratulations ladies! I will mail them to you on Monday!

But WAIT! There’s a bit of a mystery!

When Joanie asked me where she could get the calendars, I went and asked Gigi Google and she showed me this photo:

The Art of the Quilt Calendar Mystery cover
The Art of the Quilt Calendar Mystery cover

Well, that’s not the calendar I have with that title. But I checked out the photos on the back and lo and behold…

The Art of the Quilt Calendar new back cover
The Art of the Quilt Calendar new back cover

My three quilts are in this calendar, as well. And it’s printed by the same company.

Something very fishy is goin on here… How did some quilts get removed and replaced with others? Oh, I wish I knew the story behind this!

Please hold as I detective this case!

Oh, and by the way, the calendar can be found at Wooden Gate Quilts, Barnes & Noble and at my friend Gigi’s home.

Happy Birthday to me (and you!)

Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me

This weekend I celebrated my 21st birthday, so I’m legal to drink. Add to that I also celebrated my 18th birthday, so I can vote. Plus, it was my sixteenth birthday, so I can legally speed down the freeway.  Oh, yeah, plus my terrible two birthday because I can be a brat. And one to grow on.

I hope all of that was confusing enough to obscure the large number of birthday’s I was celebrating this year!

My beautiful birthday roses!
My beautiful birthday roses!

I do love my birthday. It’s the one day I don’t have to feel guilty about doing anything I want! This year I did pretty much nothing for the “actual” day and did partying things for the other (not actual) days! Perfecto!

Love the stitches on this card!
Love the stitches on this card!

I did recieve this card from my three-year-old twin grand niece and nephew.

Alethea's birthday portrait, by D
Alethea’s birthday portrait, by D

It came with some portraits included. This is me (a great likeness, if I do say so).

The twins & Uncle Steve, by O
The twins & Uncle Steve, by O

The twins on the bottom. And my darling husband is the green scribble – practically a photographic likeness!

The Art of the Quilt Calendar 2012 - Starring Alethea Ballard!
The Art of the Quilt Calendar 2013 – Starring Alethea Ballard!

For my birthday I am giving out a present!

back view of The Art of the Quilt Calendar 2012 - Starring Alethea Ballard!
back view of The Art of the Quilt Calendar 2013 – Starring Alethea Ballard!

Orange Circle Studio, who has put out a calendar with THREE of my quilts, sent me some 2013 calendars as a gift to share with you, my dear readers!

It’s very cool, because there is a pouch in the back with the full instructions for each of the thirteen quilts in this calendar! Wow! That’s such a great addition!

I would like to send the first calendar out on Friday to one lucky blog reader.

All you have to do is comment that you’d like one for yourself or some dear friend and I’ll pick a winner. If you don’t win this time, stay tuned for another give-away next week!

I’m not crazy…

detail of Quilt for the Latest Sexagenarian, by Mike McNamara
detail of Quilt for the Latest Sexagenarian, by Mike McNamara

I’m not crazy. Really!

But there were some really crazy (in an awesome way) quilts at Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara this weekend.

I was excited to see so many dynamic and interesting quilts this year.

Three of the more compelling works were part of an exhibit titled I’m Not Crazy, compiled by the Studio Art Quilters Association, or SAQA.

Insane Asylum, by Silvia M. Weir
Insane Asylum, by Silvia M. Weir
detail of Insane Asylum, by Silvia M. Weir
detail of Insane Asylum, by Silvia M. Weir

Held Together by a Thread, by Susan Lenz
Held Together by a Thread, by Susan Lenz
detail of Held Together by a Thread, by Susan Lenz
detail of Held Together by a Thread, by Susan Lenz

Another Panic Attack, by Jane P. Broaddus
Another Panic Attack, by Jane P. Broaddus
detail of Another Panic Attack, by Jane P. Broaddus
detail of Another Panic Attack, by Jane P. Broaddus

As many of you know, I have a real inability to sit through the creation and execution of any hand work at all. With that being the case, I am ever impressed and amazed at other’s ABILITY to do so. At PIQF there were so many quilts with an incredible amount of work completed by hand.

detail of Red Sunflower, by Susan Bianchi
detail of Red Sunflower, by Susan Bianchi

Working on THIS would make me crazy! But I love it!

It won the ribbon for Best of Embellishment!

Red Sunflower, by Susan Bianchi
Red Sunflower, by Susan Bianchi

Red Sunflower, by Susan Bianchi
Red Sunflower, by Susan Bianchi

detail of Glorious Autumn, by Frieda Oxenham
detail of Glorious Autumn, by Frieda Oxenham

So picture this. A bead at each corner and in between every half-inch wide quilt piece. Each block is made of four squares so that’s a lot of beads!

detail of Glorious Autumn, by Frieda Oxenham
detail of Glorious Autumn, by Frieda Oxenham

Multiply that by ten blocks wide…