"A modern young lady may find it more convenient to work on this antique lap frame...The charming Sunbonnet Girl quilt is in the process of being made as a keepsake with all the fabrics from one girl's wardrobe from age one to twenty-one."
Last weekend I was browsing through a used book store when I came across this amazing treasure, American Quilts and How to Make Them, by Carter Houck and Myron Miller (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975). I have not been in a used book store in years, but I thought it might be fun to check it out. Apparently, I was lucky to find a quilt book at all, because they sell quickly, I'm told.
In any case, this one is both amusing and useful at the same time! In the amusing category, on page 17 there is a chapter titled "Equipment for Successful Quilting:"
"Fortunately, no one has been able to invent a lot of expensive electric equipment for quilting. There aren't even many tempting but useless gadgets on the market to lure the quilter and make her spend money. The largest item on her list is a quilting frame and that can be built at home quite simply."
Times have changed!
But, in the useful category, there are photos of lots of great historic quilts, and simple patterns for many of them.
|Cockscomb quilt, 1864
I think the authors chose the quilts for the book with a very modern eye, because many of them have large, simple and graphic designs.
|Robbing Peter to pay Paul
Would you guess that the above quilt, Robbing Peter to pay Paul, is pre-Civil War? You could easily find a similar design at Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn today.
There are plenty of quilts with more detail as well, like this wonderful Family Album quilt:
|Family Album Quilt, 1859
I've been looking for basic applique patterns recently, and this book is just right for my current skill level. The designs are simple but not juvenile:
And if the applique is not enough, there are many good pieced quilts as well. I love the setting for these Kansas Troubles blocks:
The blocks are here called "Indian Trails," which to me suggests a good colour scheme as well. I'd love to make it some day! The quilt is from Illinois in the early to mid 1800s, and the authors suggest that the threads have been saved and reused, as well as the fabrics!
Another quilt I'd like to make is this Sunburst quilt, which was started at the end of the 19th century by the mother of Pearl S. Buck:
Apparently the background is red! Pearl Buck's parents were missionaries to China, which may explain the inspiration for the colour. I love how it has elements of both a sunburst and a Dresden plate, as well as the large, graphic design. And plaids too! So, that's another one for my to-do list.
Finally, on the same page as the Pearl Buck quilt, there's another simpler sunburst quilt:
What do I like about this? The cat, of course! I think cats have been staking out quilts as long as there have been quilts and cats!