Alexander’s Quilt

May 23, 2012 at 9:56 am 2 comments

Ronan and Alexander

“So, I see we both like quilts!”

My sister Sian had her third son, Alexander Jackson Bailey, on September 26, 2011. As they live in Massachusetts, I didn’t get to meet him until they came down for Ronan’s birthday party in November, but I sent him a set of little fleece pajamas with pumpkins on them and a pumpkin hat with matching booties. She sent me these wonderfully styled photos of him wearing them:

Alexander Pumpkin

(By the way, both of the pretty pretty quilts in the above pictures were made by my mom.)

I had made wallhangings for each of Sian’s older sons when they were baptized, incorporating photos of them as infants.  Here’s Bruce’s, from 2004:

Bruce's Quilt

And Luke’s, from 2009:

Luke's Quilt

As the youngest of three boys, I imagine Alexander will have quite a few hand-me-downs of clothes, books, and toys. I wanted to make sure that, even though my life circumstances have changed quite a bit since his older brothers were born, he still had a quilt from me that was made just for him and was at least the equal of the ones I’d made for his brothers.

Alexander's Quilt, 38" x 38"

Alexander’s Quilt, 38″ x 38″

It’s nice to have a reason to make a little quilt from time to time. My projects tend to suffer from gigantism, as regular readers well know; if I hadn’t wanted to conform to the same general size range as the other two wallhangings, who knows what this might have grown into? Especially because the block technique I had wanted to try anyway, Anita Grossman Solomon’s Unbiased Block from the April/May 2012 issue of Quilters Newsletter, turned out to be so addicting that I might have just kept going. She has you use strips of fusible interfacing on two identical squares of striped fabric to create this handy-dandy hourglass/pinwheel block that does not distort, despite the bias edges on the outside. It’s way too much fun. If you, like I, have a big collection of striped fabric, this technique is an excellent excuse to spend an afternoon playing. One pleasant surprise was that the wiggly, uneven, painterly stripes created more successful blocks to my eye than the traditional, regular stripes.

Corner detail, Alexander's Quilt

Corner detail, Alexander’s Quilt

This was entirely a stash quilt. The only purchase I made was the batting, and only because I didn’t want to cut up a queen-sized piece. Inspired by the fall colors in the photo, I pulled all the autumnal stripes from my collection and decided to make nine blocks from five different fabrics. I did have one nonstarter; while I loved this corn fabric (and it really is functionally a stripe):

Corn fabric

No. Just no.

it was WAY too busy when I put it up on the design wall with the others. In a bed-size quilt I might have gotten away with it, but not in a small quilt like this. I wanted to use the gold fossil fern fabric for the sashing, but I didn’t have enough of it, so I used it for cornerstones and chose the orangey stone-veined fabric to pad it out. As with virtually any other instance in my quilting career where I’ve made a decision to include more fabric in a project, I think it is an improvement over my original idea. I will make it a point to use low-contrast cornerstones in future projects where I might otherwise have just used straight sashing.

Center detail, Alexander's Quilt

Center detail, Alexander’s Quilt

Once everything was pieced, I fused the transferred photo and some simple leaf shapes and appliqued them down with a machine buttonhole stitch in a variegated heavy thread. (I’m purposely skipping over the step where I obsessed over leaf placement for multiple evenings in a row, consulting Dan to the point of exhaustion, then accidentally let the fan blow half of them off onto the floor.) I quilted an overall design of leaves and tendrils over the entire top, ignoring seam lines but tying in the appliqued leaves as if they were part of the edge-to-edge quilting design. This was the first time I’d ever done anything like this, especially freehand, and it was a fun puzzle challenge to decide on the fly what I should quilt where. It was also the first time I’d quilted details into my appliques, rather than just quilting around them or going over them with a filler pattern, and I was very pleased with the faux-trapunto result. The photo also looked much more defined with some simple outlining quilted in.

I’ve been handstitching more of my bindings lately, but this quilt got a Sew Precise, Sew Fast machine binding out of the fabric I used for the center square, and with a sleeve and label attached, it’s done in plenty of time for his June 10 baptism:

Label detail, Alexander's Quilt

Label detail, Alexander’s Quilt

I’m still plugging away on the shop hop sampler quilt, but barring major upheaval or disaster in either the quilt or my life, it should be done for the show without necessitating any sleepless nights. I’ve also been tapped to demonstrate freehand feather quilting at the guild quilt show, so I need to gather my samples and my thoughts to prepare for that. And the guild challenge is impatiently tugging at a corner of my subconscious, asking for attention to be paid to it. The beat goes on…


Entry filed under: New Projects. Tags: , .

Finished! Spumoni Spring Cats and Quilts, Again

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Janet Chinault  |  May 26, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Great post. I especially enjoyed seeing the label, which I didn’t get to see when you showed the piece at guild. They are lucky little boys to have such a talented aunt to make quilts for them.

  • 2. Still Here, Still Quilting! | Sarah Loves Fabric  |  June 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    […] Cutting Revolution. She’s the visionary who developed the Unbiased Block that I used in Alexander’s quilt last year. I caught up on a bunch of The Quilt Show episodes while up in the middle of the night […]


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