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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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!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – the Loving Hearts Quilt

Loving Hearts
Loving Hearts

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and since it is February, you can see that my quilt finishing schedule is about four months behind.  I think I will have the Christmas quilts finished by April, but who is counting.

I want to share with you a special quilt that I made.

Love for Susan
Love for Susan

Some of you have seen a quilt on my website called Love for Susan. It was made for a dear friend when she was recovering from unexpected surgery about three years ago. I was able to get it done by the time she was sent home from the hospital and I was happy to wrap her in love and affection. She uses it all the time and has washed it many times. With the raw-edge appliques it is just soft and yummy.

I love you cup from Starbucks
I love you cup from Starbucks

The idea for the quilt came from a cup that was distributed by Starbucks. I loved the flowers which were created by hearts. It was an easy project to design and the way I made it allowed for my family help me assemble the top. For Susan’s quilt, my husband and one of my nephews glued the appliques for me and working as a team we got that sucker done in a day!

When I learned that a friend and colleague from my husband Steve and son Nathan’s work was mounting an epic battle against breast cancer, I immediately wanted to make her a quilt like Love for Susan. However, many things slowed the progress and it took me a long time to finish the project. I made all the appliques and Steve and Nathan worked with me to glue them in place. It was so nice to be able to do this together. This month we were finally able to give it to her.

She has endured three surgeries, rounds of chemotherapy and now radiation, but she is fighting a good fight and we were so glad to finally give her a token of our love, support and admiration.

I can share the ideas and designs of this quilt with you and give you instructions to make it, but because the design was distributed by Starbucks and is likely under copyright, none of us can make the pattern or the quilt to sell. But I am sure they won’t mind if we share the Loving Hearts Quilt with friends and family. It is so pretty and quick to make when you really want to support someone special.

Close up of Loving Hearts flower
Close up of Loving Hearts flower

Here’s how to make the Loving Hearts Quilt

Send me an email at maverickquilts at gmail dot com and I will email you templates for the hearts and leaves

Materials needed:

Background piece of fabric 55″ x 70″ (can be pieced if you can’t get wide yardage)

Scraps of pink fabrics

Scraps of green fabrics about 6″ x 10″

Large scraps of green fabrics (2) about 14″ x 18″

Freezer paper

UHU Glue stick or lightweight fusible web (see note below)

Sewing Directions:

1.  Make three heart sizes by folding a piece of paper in half and cutting it into three sizes (or use templates from my email – see note above). Begin with pieces of paper 6″, 5″ and 4″. Transfer the templates onto freezer paper.

2.  Rough cut chunks of pink fabrics in the three sizes. 15 of each size for a total of 45.

Note: At this point you can add fusible to the backs of each piece of fabric if you don’t like the raw-edge look and don’t want the edges to fray. Trace the heart pattern to the paper side of the fusible.

Step 3 - stack 5 pieces of fabric
Step 3 - stack 3 pieces of fabric, press to nestle the fibers

3.  Press 3 pieces of fabric in a stack

Step 4 - Pin
Step 4 - Pin

4.  Pin with flat head pins

Step 5 - Press freezer paper in place
Step 5 - Press freezer paper in place

5.  Iron the freezer paper template to the top of the stack, on top of the pins

Step 6 - cut
Step 6 - cut

6. Cut out the hearts.

Remove the freezer paper
Remove the freezer paper

create 15 of each size

7.  Use the same technique to create 22 small leaves and 2 large leaves.

8.  Create the flower stems by cutting a 1 1/2″ strip of fabric and dividing it about 2/3 of the way.

9.  Create the leaf stems by cutting a strip of fabric 3/4″ and subcut it into 22 stems 1 3/4″ long.

10.  Cut the background fabric to 55″ x 70,” or so. Put it on a large flat surface with sheets underneath (so you can iron on it) or on a design wall that you can iron on.

Step 11 - create flowers
Step 11 - create flowers

11.  begin creating the flowers by laying out 5 hearts for the middle, then add the next layer of (10) hearts to surround the center.

Step 12 - create all the flowers and add stem
Step 12 - create all the flowers and add stem

12.  Get all the flowers in place.

13.  Add the border leaves, leaf stems, flower stems and flower leaves.

14.  Fuss it all until it looks balanced and even.

Note: If you are using fusible,  press everything in place now.

Glueing instructions:

Get some help! I was able to make this quilt as a family project. My husband and my son each manned a glue stick (I prefer UHU brand) and I wielded the iron. I handed a heart to one of them and marked and removed the next one. They would glue the back side, and I would put the hearts back on the background and iron them in place. It felt good to all do something together for someone we care about.

a.  Mark each heart’s location on the background with a pin at the point and a pin at the ‘v’.

b.  Add glue to the entire back of heart, taking care not to stretch out the bias parts too much.

c.  Repeat the same system for the leaves and stems.

Leaf quilting detail
Leaf quilting detail

Quilting ideas:

If you can get it quilted on a long arm, then the whole project can be completed fairly fast.

The top edge on the longarm
The top edge on the longarm

I quilted it with lots of circles on the backgrounds, leaf veins in the leaves and hearts and circles in the hearts. By sewing about 1/4″ inside the edge of each applique, I was able to create a raw edge. This will fray nicely when you wash the quilt.

Hearts quilting detail
Hearts quilting detail

Our friend is a really girly girl, so I had to use Minkee on the back and a puffy wool batting inside. It looked so great on the back!

Then I washed it on gentle in my washing machine and dried it on medium heat in the dryer.

When it comes out of the laundry, the raw edges need a little haircut in places to make everything look clean and tidy.

Loving Hearts Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012
Loving Hearts Quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2012

Send me photos and messages when you finish your quilts. We can all get strength from sharing love with the brave people who are fighting cancer.