I love antique quilts and am really fascinated by them. I use the design or construction methods from these quilts as my inspiration for the classes and techniques that I teach. I love the way you can look at an old quilt, and see how they used simple techniques to make quilts more easily with the often limited amount of time and resources they had available.
Those classes led to my two books with Landauer, Quilting-on-the-Go and Utility Quilting.
The challenge that many of my students were facing was how to use the hand techniques our grandmothers used in a new and modern way. My students were looking for ways to bring the hobby they enjoyed along with them as they went through their days: at the park, at the doctor’s office, and anywhere else they had a few spare moments to stitch.
Quilting-on-the-Go shows how to successfully make any number of different quilts from small, portable, quilted sections that are put together with no bulk or extra sashing. There are examples of quilts put together in similar ways way back in the 1880’s. It seems that quilters have always loved making things easier for themselves. That way we get to sew more quilts!
In Utility Quilting I looked at the ways quilts were quilted either with the stitches used or the designs selected to make the process fast and fun, to get those quilts on beds. So many ideas from old quilts, yet so relevant today! Years ago, women needed to finish a quilt quickly, make it durable and get it on the bed. They did this by using bigger stitches, thicker threads and overall designs.
Ultimately, these two books work really well together. The thicker threads and the bigger stitches I talk about in Utility Quilting can be used on the small portable sections of the Quilting-on-the-Go quilts and some of the designs too, like the cross hatching and the wine glass quilting.
So if either the size of a quilt looks too daunting to quilt by hand or you think the process is too slow, think again! Quilters have been finding solutions to these dilemmas since we started wanting to make quilts! And you can use the same methods today!
Carolyn’s newest book, Quilting-on-the-Go Taking It Further, will be available in Spring, 2014. It was inspired by her students who wanted more of her traditional techniques and projects for modern quilters.
What do you love about antique quilts? Are you inspired by the handiwork of our quilting ancestors? Let us know what you think in the comments below!