A Family of Quilts

Finally this project has reached the artist’s completion.  Once these quilts are in the hands of their owners, then I can say it is truly finished.

But for today, oh my goodness, I have reached the sewing end, and what an end it was.  Amid road trips and sporting events, familial milestones and the warmest Silicon Valley summer not only in my brief memory but for those with much deeper roots, five comforters have come forth, tied together by fabrics and manners of quilting.  Not sure I’ll ever again embark on such a vast endeavor, but after I wrote the Alvin’s Farm series, I said, “No more mega-tomes!”  And then last fall I started The Hawk, and look where that’s gotten me…

Ahem, anyways, let me explain these quilts, just a bit.  I ask for your indulgence, because like Alvin’s Farm and The Hawk, initially the idea was small; I wanted to make a toddler quilt for a lad named Ritchie.  And then I learned Ritchie had two older sisters.  And then I thought about mom-daughter quilts, and what about Ritchie and his pop?  And then…

And then I had five quilts in the queue, sort of like how I wrote Alvin’s Farm, then ended up with five more books in the kitty.

Maybe other novelists plan out a series.  I certainly didn’t; it sort of hit me like a sledgehammer, until I wrote the last sentence of The Timeless Nature of Patience.  At times I needed that sort of nature to muscle my way through these quilts, and I occasionally feel that way about The Hawk.  Because sometimes a project, be it a blanket or a book, screams to be acknowledged, even if time feels constrained and outside events conspire to squeeze out what little a person has to run on.  But the proper fuel always finds its way into the tank; these quilts are bound by more than cotton (and some poly) threads.  They are the culmination of a little bit of my brain (and a lot of my heart and soul), and I will never forget how they came to be.

Alvin and his clan were from a poor night’s sleep, dawdling on the computer.  The Hawk emerged from a dream.  These five quilts are all about giving.  And I guess an argument can be made for the stories too.  But a quilt is more personal, no one else will ever use it but the one for whom it was made.  In that manner, books and quilts are very different.  But today, let’s focus on the fabrics.

Ritchie’s quilt was born of a good-sized scrap leftover from my daughter’s whale comforter.  I added the solids, some tone on tone, and just adore how one print stands out against the vibrant hues.  I hope this blanket assists in teaching Ritchie his colours.  If nothing else, it will aid in nap times, backed with snuggly microfleece also from my daughter’s whale blanket.

The big sisters quilts were planned with some matching fabrics, also coordinated with some in the mom-quilt.  For Ritchie’s four-year-old sister, I concentrated on light blues, and I especially like the bird print, near the bottom.

I backed it with an adorable frog flannel, pieced with coral at the bottom.  I went with strips for these quilts, easier to put together, plus I wanted to try this method.  I think it worked pretty well.

For the nine-year-old sister, I used fewer juvenile fabrics, although the feel is still youthful.  It’s a little longer than the other two, but is backed with a cute cloud flannel print, reminding that childhood is a precious moment, not to be given away too soon.

Both sister quilts are bound with fabrics from each other’s quilts, and some from Mom’s quilt.

As for Mom, she has a patchwork, to tie in with Ritchie.  I went a little colour-crazy with this quilt; I wanted it to be full of hope and excitement.  It’s backed with a light purple cotton, and was stitched in the ditch, like the sister quilts.

Mom's quilt is on the right, Ritchie's on the left, with a placemat between them, buffered by the Big Sister quilt top on the far left...

Mom’s quilt is on the right, Ritchie’s on the left, with a placemat between them, buffered by the Big Sister quilt top on the far left…

The binding is scrappy, like the girls’ blankets, and I even threw in some of the butterfly material from my curtain-making days.  No fabric goes to waste in this grotto!


And speaking of such, for the dad I went back to the brother-in-law stash, adding some solids used from Ritchie’s quilt.  I backed this quilt in a dark royal blue that looks purple at times, then bound it with a lighter blue.

It was the last of the group to be completed, and I actually finished it on Wednesday night, watching a documentary about Harry Nilsson.  I washed it yesterday morning, then threw into the washer the nine-year-old’s quilt.  And once that blanket was dry, the project was done.

No revising, no last edits.  Once a quilt comes out of the laundry, there’s no more to be done than to present it to whom it belongs.

That will happen next week, no real hurry, as it’s still plenty warm here in the South Bay.  But autumn is batting its long eyelashes, as the days grow shorter, leaves falling from trees.  One of these days we’ll get a chilly night, but by then these quilts will be in the proper hands, providing comfort.  And that’s all I wanted to do.

At the end of the day, or the beginning of the morning, I just want to spread a little love.  Be it through fabrics or novels, here you go, enjoy!

2 thoughts on “A Family of Quilts

  1. laura bruno lilly

    Absolutely amazing! Your first photo says it all…truly a Family of Quilts.

    The tie-in (pun intended) with both mega projects (Quilt Family & Alvin’s Farm) presents a satisfying foray into the creative process. I love the ‘backstory’ and how easily you relay it in this piece.

    “No revising, no last edits. Once a quilt comes out of the laundry, there’s no more to be done than to present it to whom it belongs.”

    I wish I could be a fly on the wall and see the expressions on the faces of those receiving your ‘quiltgifts’ this next week…what an honor for them!

    Yes, you are ‘spreading a little love’ through both fabrics and novels.


    1. Anna Scott Graham Post author

      I will let you know how the reception goes. Can’t wait to give them away!

      This project definitely has corollaries with Alvin’s Farm; funny how something can grab hold of us, and not let go.



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