Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Inspiration - The Quilt Index

If you like quilts and/or history, have I found the site for you!  While researching the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt pattern, I came across The Quilt Index.  A partnership of the Alliance for American Quilts, MATRIX Center for Humane Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Online, and Michigan State University Museum, the Index is an on-line catalog containing thousands of quilts from the 1700's to this year.

You can search in several different ways, including type of pattern, time frame, and even by which state the quilt was made.  Each quilt has a basic and a detailed history - some quilts have a lot of information, some have just a bit.  All work on my Grandmother's Flower Garden pillowcases came to a complete halt the afternoon I discovered the site!  I've been back several times - I think it'll take years to work my way through.

A few highlights to show you what information is available:

This is the quilt that first led me to the Index - I love the way the hexagon shapes have been arranged into stars!  It was created by Mary Hopkins Haynes circa 1825 from imported cotton chintz.  English template piecing was used to put the blocks together.  The quilt was made in North or South Carolina for Mrs. Haynes' first grandchild and has been passed down through the family ever since.  When her great-grandaughter moved to Texas (by wagon) in 1866, she brought the quilt with her.  It is now owned by the quiltmaker's great-great-great granddaughter.  There's a lot more information on its history here.

This is a fascinating quilt!  It was sewn from wool by Elizabeth Kobler circa 1778.  Her husband was a tailor in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.  This quilt was made with scraps from uniforms he made for soldiers in the Revolutionary War.  There is also embroidery on the quilt, but it's hard to see unless you use a magnifier.  Did you notice the quilter's initials on the left hand side?  Learn more about it here.

This amazing mosaic quilt was hand pieced (using English template piecing) by Albert Small in the 1930's.  Mr. Small was an explosives handler at an Illinois quarry with an obvious talent at piecing!  You can see two more of his mosaic quilts here - this one and those were quilted by his wife and daughter-in-law.

The Quilt Index also has several lesson plans that involve quilts, essays on quilting in general and on specific topics, and information on how you can become involved in the project.  Time for a coffee refill and back to browsing!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

1 comment:

  1. Deborah--
    My name is Meg Cox and I'm president of the Alliance for American Quilts. So glad you discovered and enjoyed some of our web resources on quilters and quilt history. Thanks to textile lovers like you, our web traffic doubled last year.
    Anyway, I just want to make sure you know about some of our other projects, including the oral history project Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories, which is archived at the Library of Congress. We've got over 1,000 interviews with all sorts of quilters posted at, and because it's a grassroots project, anyone can get involved.
    Don't forget to sign up for the Alliance's great free newsletter at our home page! Then you'll new when the next great collections are added to the Quilt Index.
    thanks for spreading the word!
    Meg Cox