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2003 Issue

Compiled by
Bruce Gventer

This month in response to readers’ requests, Websitings is devoted to quilts - American quilts, Amish quilts, and ethnic quilts. If you have a site you would like to share, or a subject category that you would like me to research, let me know. As always, I am interested in your opinions; you can email me at  Hope you learn something and enjoy this month's column too...

Anne Johnson

Patches From The Past

 The owner of this site is Anne Johnson. She is a retired teacher who took a quilt workshop and became hooked. Then she took another class to make a sampler quilt which she says sparked her creativity. After that she became curious about the history of quilting and the women who made them. She studied long and hard, reading many books on the subject. You can benefit from her hard work; this is an excellent site. Anne Johnson is the pen name of Judy Anne Breneman. She writes poetry, articles, and essays under this name.

Much ground is covered on this site; many articles are presented for you to read and to learn about quilts. the site starts with "Fresh off the frame," where you will find the newest articles on how to find reproduction quilt fabrics and traditional Hawaiian quilts. Then there is a listing of past articles that have appeared on the site - a real find for those interested in quilting history. The next group of articles will help you learn the techniques and will guide you in the how-to of old-time quilting.

An interesting section concerns the myths of quilting. Apparently many stories passed down from generation to generation about quilting are just not correct. For example, it is assumed that quilting was a common task in a woman's life in colonial America, when in fact women did not have the time to spend quilting until the 1840s when affordable textiles became available in the US. Another interesting myth was that the Underground Railroad used specially designed quilts as signals. Anne says that there is no evidence that this is true. More quilting myths can be found on the site and Anne plans to add additional myths as time goes by.



 For those who want to collect Amish quilts, this is a good site to visit. The quilts here are all from Lancaster County, PA. The quilts are all part of the Esprit Collection, which claims to be the best collection of Amish quilts in the world. Doug and Susie Tompkins assembled the collection.

The site explains that few quilts are as easy to identify as Amish quilts. "The Amish adhere to and live their principles of simplicity, practicality, humility, and non-resistance." The Amish emigrated from Europe and settled in Pennsylvania and the Midwest.

Between 1860 and 1950, the Amish women made quilts in a different manner. Because of religious beliefs and customs they did not use printed fabrics and did not sew together many small pieces to make their quilts. The Amish women of Lancaster County made quilts of "remarkable simplicity, vitality, and power" using abstract geometric arrangements of solid colored fabrics.

On this site you will see a selection of beautiful quilts. Each one is described, including size, date made, and material. They are all identified as being made by an unknown Amish quilter. This seems to be a good place to help you recognize the Amish quilting style.



Some of the quilts offered for sale by Buckboard.

300 More Quilts

Judy Howard in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, started Buckboard Antiques and Quilts in 1976. She has an open, 10-room shop, and sells quilts, rugs, and textiles on the Web, too. If you don't see what you want you are invited to contact her. She will ship anywhere in the United States for free.

The site consists of pages in these categories: quilts under $200, 1800s through 1920s quilts, Depression-era quilts, Post-Depression quilts, crib and doll quilts, rugs and textiles, and museum quality and Amish quilts. Each page has photographs of the quilt you can click to enlarge and a brief description of the quilt explaining the size, color pattern, price, condition, the style and, if known, the quilt maker. At the bottom of the web page you will find the date the site was last updated.



Quilt from the exhibit at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History in Augusta, Georgia.

Ethnic Quilts

Gwendolyn A. Magee, who likes to be known as Gwen, runs this site. Since she was a child she was fascinated by color. When she started quilting she discovered a medium in which she could use patterns and effects that pleased and excited her. She uses quilting as an art form to express her "personal form of communication.” Her site hopes to be your guide to quilting and fiber-related art of different ethnic groups including African, Haitian, African-American, Latin American, Asian, and Native American quilts.

The site starts with a fascinating "Did You Know?” section, which I found interesting. For example she writes, "The earliest known quilt is carved on an ivory figure of a Pharaoh of the Egyptian First Dynasty about 3400 BC. The oldest surviving example of patchwork is a quilted Egyptian Canopy used by the queen for festive occasions in 980 BC. It now resides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In 1924 archaeologists discovered a quilted floor covering in Mongolia dating back from First Century BC to the Second Century AD; and as early as the 1300's, Mali warriors wore quilted suits of armor for protection in battle." You will find many more factoids like this on the site.

The site has a great resources section about the arts, books, cooperatives, ethnic fabrics, lesson plans, videos, African-American, multi-cultural and Native American quilting, and the Internet.



A reversible Soldier's Quilt circa 1850-70 made in East Central Illinois.

Historic American Quilts

  Barbara Woodford of Illinois is the creator of this retail site that has been on the web since 1996. She comes to the retail trade after collecting quilts for 10 years and continues her quilt studies even today. The majority of her stock is from the Midwest, and she specializes in antique, high-quality, American handcrafted quilts. Barbara worked as an experimental neuropathologist before becoming a quilt seller. A nice touch to the site tells you at the top of the homepage when the last update was made.

The pages on the site are laid out this way: Barbara's latest additions; specialty quilts; 19th century quilts; log cabin and crazy quilts; turn-of-the-century quilts; 20th century quilts; and crib, doll and youth quilts. Pictures and good descriptions are supplied for each quilt that is for sale.

There are many "quilt tips" on the site that are worth reading. One example is on how to recognize quilts made between 1840 and 1890. Appliquéd quilts were popular in the colors of red, green and yellow, or orange. These quilts were especially popular with people of German heritage, and there is a good chance they were made in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states with German populations.

During the Depression, feed sacks with printed cottons on the back were sold to the public so that the cottons could be reused. Feed sacks were used in quilts, sometimes as backing. Some quilts have the name of the feed manufacturer on the backing.

Barbara offers a quilt locator service. Tell her what you are looking for in your quilt, such as special colors or patterns, and she will send you photographs of quilts in her stock. If she does not have what you want she will "keep an eye out for your special needs."

Small quilts were made since 1770. To determine if it is a crib quilt look for a border. This suggests that the quilt has not been cut down from a larger quilt.


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