Guest Post–Alaska Quilt

Hi readers,


We’ve all got them. Our first attempt to make something and no matter how ugly it is, sometimes it’s just hard to throw it away. I made my first quilt in 1976 while I watched the Olympics every evening. It was a quilt as you go where I stitched 4 squares together to make a pocket, stuffed it with some cheap polyester batting, then flattened it and quilted it by hand. All these quilted squares were then hand sewn together with a whip stitch and wallah, there you have it– a completed quilt. No binding required. I think my son has the quilt now—we used it to cover furniture the last time he moved.

It’s hard to say which of the many quilts I’ve finished are my favorites. Each one has a special meaning for me. I almost always use a pattern, but never follow it exactly. I’m especially fond of the quilt I made for my son, Patrick, when he graduated from college (see photo below). He spent a summer semester kayaking through southeast Alaska. The photos were incredible and inspired me to make this quilt. It’s my own overall design, machine appliquéd and machine quilted. I used wonder under to draw the patterns from different books and his photos and cut out the pieces and fused to a background. I didn’t do any fancying stitching, just a small straight stitch around the edges. There are a lot of batik fabrics in this quilt. What’s cool about them is the pattern and color go all the way through so you don’t have white edges. That’s a good thing if you aren’t turning under the edges.

My advice — practice and make samples before you attempt the real thing, no matter what that is. Only three things can happen:

  • You hate it, hate the process, pitch it and vow never to do it again. Since it was a sample who cares—hopefully you didn’t invest much time or cash.
  • It’s not quite right and darn it you’re going to keep trying until it is and transfer all you learned to the big real project and it will be fantastic!
  • You got it right the first time (overachiever?) and you make more than one cuz it’s sooo good.