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Dear Ann,

I was determined to start my Alabama Chanin Flag Quilt kit on July 4th.

July 4, 2016. Or was it 2015?

I’ve been cherishing this kit for a long while. Seeing it all packed up in two jumbo zip-lock bags on the closet shelf has brought me joy all by itself. But every Memorial Day and July 4th, I’m sad that I haven’t got the finished quilt. This quilt  is the ultimate in Americana, a visual representation of independence, grit and the strength of button craft thread. When I do get it finished, it will be the most heirloom-eligible thing I have ever made.

So this year, I mean it. I’m starting this sewing project.

Yes, it will cut into my knitting time. It’s a lot of handsewing, but of the simple, pleasant type. Running stitch for days (literally).  This handy journal post from Alabama Chanin (from 2010!) gives all the details (including the stencil and stitch technique for each strip) and makes it seem like a snap.  (If I had another Flag Quilt in me, I’d be collecting red, white and blue t-shirts with lettering on them, for a text-y version. But let’s get this one in the can first. My crafty reach so often exceeds my grasp. SIGH.)

(white dots mark the center for placement of each star applique.)

Laying out the pieces for the field of stars took me almost an hour. It was a jigsaw puzzle. There was a slight discrepancy between the hand-drawn chart and the cut pieces (I’m looking at you, block number 9), which took me to the limit of my spatial reasoning skills, but it worked out perfectly.

The stripes are easy-peasy, each row of strips labeled in order and tied in a neat bow.

(Of course I’m already thinking: what can I make with all those red and cream pulls? Patriotic pom poms?)

(I like the bug on this stencil, which is called Clematis.)

I think I will really enjoy how quickly each small piece can be finished. Maybe I’ll finally start thinking of my Alabama Chanin projects as portable. My key to knitting productivity has always been the trick of taking my knitting with me everywhere, sneaking rows in without having to find dedicated knitting time. Maybe that approach would work for sewing!  If I can keep my needle, thread and scissors handy, and there’s sufficient light, I should be able to get in the groove.

(Photo: Alabama Chanin.)

Here’s to having my own flag quilt fluttering on the clothesline for Memorial Day 2017. For now I’m enjoying looking at it laid out on the table.

Happy Fourth of July to everyone, and a happy Independence Day to all our fellow Americans.



P.S. Here’s a handy link to the Declaration of Independence. We read it every year after the baked beans, potato salad, and Grilled Items have been consumed.


  • That’s a lovely project. I’ll look forward to see it finished. This was a nice way to start my morning.

  • Thank you for this…

  • My initial reaction to your first picture was “this project could be the big flower coat in quilt form.” Then I clicked your Alabama Chanin blog link to see pictures of the quilt, and the first line mentioned KF’s new (2010) book. So I clicked that link and read about the Nashville flood. Last week I re-listened to Ann’s novel, Bowling Avenue, in which the Nashville flood is a main character. I feel like I am now floating in time and space, possibly accompanied by your quilt kit.

  • Happy 4th Kay! I have a zip top pouch in which I keep needles, thread, scissors (thread and clip out fabric types), a small baggies of quilt safety pins and a rolled up piece of AC handwork. It’s smaller than my knitting bag. If I’m not adding beads, it is definitely portable. Have fun in the Flag quilt – that looks like a future heirloom project!

  • If I was going to have a tombstone, “My crafty reach so often exceeds my grasp” would make an excellent epitaph. I have a dedicated AC bag for porting pieces-in-progress, and you can too! XXO

  • Coveting.
    (Happy 4th.)

  • Thanks for the handy Declaration of Independence. The 3 and 5 year old granddaughters are a bit young but may absorb a first round sense of the spirit.

  • Ah, that crafty reach!! I bought a stationery set a while back… for the cute and perfectly sized tin it came in! It’s big enough to carry needles, 2-3 scissors, a few spools of thread, a small box of pins… small enough to tuck into a project bag with whatever piece I am working on. I am so happy to see you starting this project!!

  • The last line of the Declaration of Independence…oh that those in government would adhere to these words. We have fought, struggled to earn this independence to that I am so grateful for our forefathers. We have such a rich history, sorry the youth of today barely understand or appreciate it.

  • I love this. If you get bored, send me some stripes and I will sew them together for you. Happy fourth!

  • Insanely jealous that you got the quilt before they discontinued the kits! It’s going to be fabulous!

  • I have just recently gotten bit by the Alabama Chanin bug myself. While her kits aren’t in my budgeting range, I have checked out a book from the library and ordered a used one off of Amazon. With those and Pinterest I will be creating my own projects. I found a small purse on Pinterest that will be my first project. It’s coming along. I did run into a speed bump with fabric paint. The one that I chose, from Joann Fabrics, is far too stiff so that will take some experimenting. I made my own stencil with a made-up flower. We’ll see how it turns out, I can’t wait to see your finished quilt what a fabulous idea!

    • Me too! I found one of the books with patterns in a local bookstore on Saturday and became obsessed. Sunday we made a trip up the (Maine) coast to a lovely fabric store for cotton jersey. Monday I had corset pattern printed at staples (a bargain at $2.50), bought the right thread and some beads, and this afternoon I a putting the binding on my first AC corset, for my daughter. None of the lovely reverse appliqué, but some beading. A good beginning with many more projects planned. Just the thing for a long weekend.

    • Fabulous! I’m sure they are beyond my budget too, so I didn’t look because I like the idea so much. But last night I accidentally (truly! Hee hee) found a July 4th sale for sea silk, with free shioing. Thanks to all those colorwash scarves ai’m finally making sometithing with the ine prescious skein if sea silk ive had for years. And now know it’s the yarn I need for a truly needed 1sk shawlette project (to making a tank dress slightly more modest for this old lady). So once I can choose a color I’m getting one skein. Since it’s so much cheaoer than am all inclusive quilt kit, I’m saving money by getting it! Even though I do hate choosing gorgeous yarn online its never the same as in person. But, I’ll still bevdreaming about making my own colorwash scarf. I’m truly smitten with the Wild Fibers book but am determined not to get ahead of myself with patterns and yarn. Any more ahead, anyway…..

  • Kay you are a bad enabler! Or a good one. Whatecer. I do wish I never knew those kits were so all-inclusive. I’d talked myself out of the quilting bug because I’d need to buy too much parphenelia. Forunarely, or not, I don’t have a vacation home where the flag quilt would work. It really really would feel too weird in my apt. But I am resisting looking at their other kits until my knitting wips/UFO and stash is under control! Yeah, I’ll be dead by then.

    Happy happy fourth!

    P.S. I’m actually thrilled to know about those all-inclusive kits. Maybe I really will make a quilt one day…..

  • Hurray for your quilt! I’m still, amongst lots of other quicker knitting projects, plugging away on the AC jacket that goes with her Craftsy class (2 1/2 years now…..). I, too, was long afraid to take it portable. But I recently figured out that with a pair of tiny stork scissors and a good needle keeper, it’s completely portable in a zip top bag. Have fun with all those fabulous stenciled pieces (drool….).

  • I think you mean Memorial day 2018…at the end of your post…I think that is what you meant….good luck, it looks glorious! Happy 4th. We just celebrated 150 yrs here in Canada….on July 1!!

    • Thank you Scheusie!

  • I love your 4th of July project! I also love thematic knitting, and last week knit a Patriotic Pussy for a friend with red, white, blue, and stars. Today I am embarking on the non-knitting portion of my own Americana-themed project, a Statue of Liberty costume. I have knit and felted most of the requisite pieces for her crown and torch holder, but have hesitated on the dying-large-swaths-of-fabric portion. However I have decided that today’s the perfect day to take the plunge! (Literally.) My own new goal is to have it completed by July 22nd, for a nearby small town’s very first Pride parade!

  • I lovity love that you’re starting this on July 4! Epic! And meaningful! And heirloom-worthy fer sure!

  • What a stunning project! I can’t wait to see all that it involves. I loved your description: “My crafty reach so often exceeds my grasp.” This is such an accurate statement of my life!

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