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!

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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!

Scrap Quilt Redux

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

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

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

Green Goddess quilt
Green Goddess quilt

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

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

Goddess Flowers Quilt
Goddess Flowers Quilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dream Chair Corral – Volkswagen!?!

Volkswagen Bug Quilt- by Chris Leach
Volkswagen Bug Quilt - by Chris Leach

OK, so it’s not a chair, but the is quilt was made using the same style as the chairs, so that counts!

My teacher’s pet, Chris Leach, (now Karla, calm down) has sent me photos of her cool Volkswagen Bug Quilt, and I just had to share it with my dear readers!

Chris used steam a seam and fused the raw edge applique, just like we do with the chairs!  Then she took the time to made the black stitching, which really serves to define the shapes.  I know it was a pain to do, Chris, but it was totally worth it!

Volkswagen Bug Quilt - Super close up
Volkswagen Bug Quilt - Super close up

I absolutely love the background map fabric and the peace sign border.

But, I think my two favorite parts are the flowered fabric on the hood and the polka dot interior!  Oh, and the black dot bumper and the way the wheels are turned.

Volkswagen Bug Quilt - Close up
Volkswagen Bug Quilt - Close up

Chris has also made some very cool chairs.  Love them!

Chris's Tree Chair Quilt
Chris's Tree Chair Quilt