Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ABC's of Quilting (Alphabet Quilts)

Alphabet quilts have a timeless appeal for children of all ages (and adults, too).   Some truly fabulous new fabrics and patterns inspired us to write an entire post about alphabet quilts ! 

This wonderful Alphabet Quilt, circa 1930-1950, is in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (accession #2000-004-002).  The colors are still vibrant after more than 60 years.   The quilt was made with feed sacks and other reclaimed fabrics, making it a vanguard of the modern trend towards the use of reclaimed clothing in quilts. In fact, this quilt was featured in a 2009 exhibit called Recycling and Resourcefulness: Quilts of the 1930's. To read about this and other outstanding alphabet quilts from history, visit the Quilt Study Search Collections page; simply type "alphabet" in the Keyword Search box (we love this search feature... if you try it, you'll be hooked too!)

Alphabet Soup, 76 x 54, by Kellie Wulfsohn, at Don't Look Now

This cheery quilt is a(nother) very clever design by Kellie Wulfsohn.  Large and small, upper- and lower-case letters mix with ampersands, making a true Alphabet Soup.  The quilt uses simple, raw edge applique,  and just look at the trapunto ... Kellie's easy method of trapunto makes the letters really stand up! The quilt can be customized to your own size requirements, and fabrics. The Alphabet Soup pattern is available at Kellie's site: Don't Look Now! (I mean, that's the name of her website! DO look now, at all of her sumptuous patterns!)  Patterns are available online and many other places.

H is for Hannah, approx. 42 x 55, from the My Name Collection, by Lisa Davis at Creative Quilts

When we came across the My Name Collection by Lisa Davis, we were soooo excited. The collection is a series of 26 quilts - a different one for each letter of the alphabet, beautifully designed  among a collection of pictures with the same initial.  Thus in "H is for Hannah", above, you'll find a horse, hearts, hen, holly, hummingbird, hat, horn, house, and hibiscus ! The name shown on the picture will not be printed on the pattern: the pattern will be blank in this area, ready for you to add your desired name from the full size lowercase alphabet provided.

Illuminated Alphabet, by Zena Thorpe, at Zena's Quilts

Zena Thorpe is an award-winning artist whose achievements include membership in the Master Quilters Guild established by the National Quilting Association.  Zena Thorpe is also the author of  Beautiful Alphabet Applique, a 64-page book published by AQS, which contains the full-color illustrations and elaborate appliques for all 26 letters of the English alphabet,  plus the L,O,V, E letters shown above, and the applique in the sashing and borders. Each letter is a miniature work of art !

Alfabeto Italiano Collezione, at Michael Miller Fabrics

The new Alfabeto Italiano Collezione at Michael Miller Fabrics is so.... grande.  Look at the adorable "Grande Alfabeto" quilt, below, designed by Marinda Stewart.  The quilt measures 39 x 45, and each of the delightfully illustrated letters in the fabric panel is about 3 inches tall.

To view the entire fabric collection, visit Michael Miller Fabrics. Two different quilts have been designed for the collection: the "Grande Alfabeto" pattern by Marinda Stewart, above, and an "Alfabeto Italiano" quilt by Heidi Pridemore.  Both free patterns can be downloaded from the Michael Miller patterns page (note that the large files may take a few minutes to load).

Alphabet Quilt, 82 x 90, by American Jane Patterns

The oh-so-cute Alphabet Quilt by American Jane features nine applique blocks filled with classic toys such as trains, teddy bears, sailboats, drums, toy soldiers, and stuffed animals. Each individual pattern can also be made into a pillow or wall hanging, as shown below.

And here is something brand new from American Jane: the ABC quilt shown below (38 x 48), which is made from the totally charming Punctuation fabric line and panel by American Jane for Moda (it's in stores now !)

Alphabet Quilt Blocks, at Block Crazy

The pieced alphabet blocks shown above are very similar to those in the 1930's alphabet quilt shown at the very beginning of this post. Hmmm... imagine the possibilities. Depending on your choice of fabric, these pieced letters could be made to look either vintage or modern. And here's the good news: the entire set of A-Z block patterns is available at Block Crazy. How crazy is that ?!

More ABC fabrics and patterns: Check out Jen Duncan's ABC's quilt at the Moda Bakeshop; and Jen's pre-cut fabric ABC's - available in five colors - on Etsy. You might also want to see Animal Alphabet Games by J. Wecker Frisch for Quilting Treasures; Wee Woodland Alphabet ABC by Keiki for Moda; Now I Know My ABCs by Kate Honarvar for Timeless Treasures; the Child's Play flannel collection by Sherry Berry for Northcott (the related "Nate and Kate" patterns are at Quilt Woman); and the adorable Aldo to Zippy fabric line by Jenn Ski for P&B Textiles (sold out in most places, but we found a few kits at Pipers Girls).   For fanciful alphabet appliques with dragons, gryphons and other beasts,  see Creative Medieval Designs for Applique by Eileen Campbell.

Image credits:  Images are shown with the generous permission of the artists.


  1. Fantastic quilts, I love them all, such a lot of work has gone into them.

  2. Having made an alphabet quilt for each grandchild, I am always looking for new ideas.


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