Afternoon-Morning Quilt

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On Tuesday afternoon I felt the stirrings of a fit of restlessness. Usually when this happens it means that I'm on the verge of a creative tantrum. Thus it was that I found myself going to JoAnn Fabrics at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Also known as almost rush hour. Andy was home with napping Mimi, texting me to "take your time out there, honey." Ha! I scanned the quilting cottons as I approached, like an alpine skier at Rosa Khutor before the Super-G. [Horn blows!] I hit the aisles: Into my cart they flew, bolt after bolt, peach, pink, navy, olive, coral, lilac, pale mustard, cream. Groovy flowers, tiny flowers, gingham, whales. Elephants! A couple of solids, a couple of Little House on the Prairies. A couple of really?!?s. Eighth yards of most, quarters of a couple. Home by dinner, done, and done!

Apparently now my only shopping speed is lightning fast. This from the formerly slowest person on earth. Who used to be able to saunter the aisles at Goodwill for hours straight looking for the right tea pot without getting even slightly bored. No more, people. The next morning (Andy's day off) I was at the sewing machine by eight, drinking a smoothie so I wouldn't have to sit down to breakfast.

Oh, silly, silly lady. :)

I decided not to rotary cut anything — I literally took the 1/8-yard-cut-at-the-store strips, cut a couple of them into chunks (with scissors), cut one lengthwise into two skinny strips (eyeballed that), and then just started sewing strips together randomly. If you look at the photos you can kind of see how I did it. Sometimes I'd take a piece of a few sewn-together strips and cut off a few inches of it and sew it to another strip. When I had a few pieces I hung them all up on the sliding-glass door to see what I had. I didn't measure anything; I just kept sewing pieces together and trimming them a bit, or adding strips to get "blocks" that would match in length along one edge. Eventually I could kind of see how I could fit pieces together to make a big rectangle that would fill most of the door. And then I was done with the top by lunchtime.

Aw, it was so much fun. You have these ideas and not a lot of time, so you don't overthink it. And that can be really  liberating. If you're intimidated by the idea of making a quilt you should try one this way! My quilts are always simple and done pretty randomly, without patterns. I've never been one to belabor my fabric choices, for sure. I've always been a pretty intuitive and impulsive color picker. And I've never had the stamina (or the room) to lay a quilt out beforehand to see if everything is going to balance or match (except maybe for the Spring Rain quilt that I made a couple of years ago from that pattern I did on the computer; if you click on the links in that post's text you can see how that came together). That said, I don't know that I've ever made a quilt that I didn't look at immediately after finishing and wish I had done something different, added something, not added something. But before I can worry too much, the poor thing is put into service. Our quilts are so hardworking here. They've been sat on and under thousands of times and washed dozens. They've covered babies and cushioned dogs and been picked on by cats. They've been in the trunk of the car, on the front lawn, and at the beach. They've had formula spilled on them, tears cried on them, diapers changed on them, and feet running across them. We love our quilts but we do not coddle them; they earn their keep, like draft horses.

Now for the backing. And the binding. And the quilting. I want this to feel like a flowery, groovy, puff. Maybe two layers of batting. And some hand quilting, with big running stitches.Worked on my lap at the end of the night, when the house is warm and quiet.


Yes! A new quilt for Spring. We've been having the snowiest winter here in Maryland. That is just what I need to get out of my February Funk. :)

I'm definitely a fan of your un-fussy quilt. In fact I love how quilts and knits are just THERE in all of your pictures, and seem so integrated into your life. The description of them as "workhorses earning their keep" resonates with me. It feels so much more approachable than planning out quilt blocks and setting out to make an heirloom!

The quilt is gorgeous, as I'd expect but... you tease us with that garland! What is it made out of?

As usual your photos are amazing! everuthing looks so nice and cozy :)
I hope you can visit my blog, I dont know if you ever visited it.
The baby is getting bigger and prettier every day, congratulations!!!!

Ah, your posts are my absolute favorite thing to read on the web. I feel like if we were to meet we would be such good instant friends. I love how fast you threw together this quilt, I did one like that in January and I love that it's done and I didn't mull over it too long. I have been using it every single day. I just wanted to post and say that your photography is always so beautiful. And that little lady couldn't get anymore precious, I have two daughters myself whom I adore. Thank you also for all the wonderful book recommendations in the last couple of posts. You are such a dear.

Oh I am LOVING your style! Mostly because I have a STASH of fabric and I've worried so about HOW the quilt will (should?) go together that I've paralyzed myself and never even begin! Why????? *eyes stash and grabs my scissors*

that's just as it should be imo. I was just thinking about that this week. I plundered into an attic over a barn/shed here at the farm...and there, in a dark corner not fit for plundering accept in the coldest months due to spiders and other possible creepies, I spied a trunk...a very old trunk...and inside not one but TWO quilt tops in old plasticky bags. never quilted and in excellent condition considering. I am over the moon. but what strikes me about both is they were literally made of leftovers in true patchwork form, though they are in patterns, not patchwork. but I think the background is an old sheet. there are pieces of dresses, flour sacks, pjs, aprons etc. divine. you are a tease with the precious garland and hanging beauty of a quilt...can't wait to see the muff wrapped in it! lovely lovely work you!

How do you make that lovely garland....are they paper stamps....can we get such crafting things in Geelong Australia I wonder?

Of course i love your quilt but the little garlands are so sweet too.

I'd love to make a quilt . . . think I probably need a bit more instruction though. I will say . . . you make it seem easy to do . . . Sweet spectator you have!

Yes-- tell us about the garland-- love it too!

Reminds me of the make-do kinds of quilts that people used to make with the pieces of leftover fabric from making clothes, or bits and pieces salvaged from clothes too worn to be usable anymore... my favorite kind of quilt! I try to save scraps of shirts (cotton, flannel) to add to my quilts here and there..when I see them, I am reminded of the person who wore the shirt. (Also use them for small stuffed hearts, etc...)

Annie Vennerbeck says: February 21, 2014 at 02:57 PM

You are amazing! (and I see it ~ the fabric choice named "really?")

Every year on your blog (been a few now!) I am surprised to see how early spring comes to you. We have a ton of snow - and weeks of waiting for a shoot of any kind. Please send more photos of your early buds!

xoxo Annie in New Hampshire

Love all the creations...Ha FAST...that been my mantra... cook, eat, sleep, clean, drive, shop, talk, create, make fast fast! The ironic things is i also teach yoga and tell people to slow down...what's the saying "those that cant do teach" Oh well..what's one to do but embrace what we are faced with! I love the silhouette of Amelia ...i have one of all my kids and cherish them.
Be well!

The colours you choose are always so 'you' and I really love that. And your garden! Are you getting ready to plant? Looking forward to seeing what you do with it this year :)

I love it! I think that quilts need to blend PERFECTLY....or not at all...(and perfect is way too much pressure)

Oh Miss Alicia! You have given me the inspiration to make a quilt! I confess I have boxes of pieced blocks that have been measured and squared , but oh! How scared I am to put them together in a quilt. Reading about your carefree quilt has given me the go to try it your way!
I love reading your posts and seeing your sweet girl growing up. Sweet husband of yours telling you to take your time, what a guy!

Love the quilt, love the garland, and love the baby! Please show/tell us how you put the 3D garland together!

mmmmm,my favorite part of the day...evening,quiet,quilting! You've inspired me to go with my instincts in creating my next quilt, your's is beautiful! Amelia is looking so grown up, how time passes so quickly. Enjoy your weekend!

Rosie, gorgeous quilt. And your little one is growing up so quickly. As I type, I have your Ollie Berry Ice Cream quilt top nearly finished!!!! It is beautiful and the colours will suit my Claudia so well. I'm making it for her to take away to boarding school with her (she's in year 5 now - so I've given myself plenty of time!!). I did want to ask you though how you put your little 'tassl'y' things in the corners of your squares? I've seen it on one of your quilts, but can't remember which one. Anyway, hope you can help. All the best, Amanda from Dirranbandi, Australia

You are so artistic, Alicia, that I can't wait to see what you come up with next! Love your quilt -- the random colors and squares -- and somehow it always seems to fit together and make you smile. I just crocheted a small granny square cover for the back of our couch to brighten things up a bit for spring. But, alas, the colors I used that made me happy don't match ANYTHING in the whole house -- in fact it clashes with everything! But for some reason I like it so I guess I'll just lay it on the back of our bed upstairs for our cat. Do you ever do that, or do yours always come out just the way you planned?

Oh boy, I can feel it coming on now here too. And it has to happen before spring starts and summer heat sets in. Must start (and finish) before winter creeps away. Oh, I'll miss her, so perhaps I must bid her farewell with a quilt. I simply must avail myself of that delight before she goes. Thank you for the inspiration - and invitation for good fun this weekend. A quilt. Such nice dreams I'll have tonight.

I love the results of your creative burst! So many cool fabrics all in one quilt.

I love your process! I took a class and that was just about the end of my quilting...1) I couldn't afford all their "gadgets", 2) it was too restrictive...rules, rules, rules and 3) I want my quilts to be loved and used, like yours, and not looked at like something out of a magazine unless it's a vintage magazine of old used quilts. Ahhh....I feel better now because "your look" is the one I was after all along....way before I took that class. It's lovely! I can't wait to see it sewn up. How do you quilt yours? Machine or by hand? That was the other thing....they said to have it machine quilted and WOW can I so not afford that!
Visiting your blog and your family almost makes me feel like you are next door. I live in "the glad house" and now I am choosing my creative, inspiring and friendly "blogging" neighbors! Thank you, neighbor!

oh you make it sound so fun.
My grandmother made so many quilts in her life that they made a book of her works in our town. I wish I had the gene but I have tried and tried and I can't handle the cutting and sewing for these, I get bored and my mind wanders about making something with yarn. But love how you describe this one and how you are doing it. It just might give me the strength to finish the one I have had hanging in my studio over the door for over a year now ;)

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at