Quiltmaking and patchwork have been popular pastimes in the U.S. since the 1700s, and today quilts are highly collectible as works of folk art with historical significance (or just nice to look at). Antique quilts vary widely in design and materials, and can be hard to date definitively because they may have been assembled in phases from older quilts or blocks.

Made from a variety of materials, from elaborate fabrics to scraps of old clothing and sometimes even old feedsacks, quilts have both a functional and social significance. Groups of women often gathered to create quilts together, and the finished result was sometimes given as a gift for a special occasion (like a wedding) or as a symbol of friendship. Quilts can also document a family’s history as the pieces sewn together can come from baby blankets, old clothes, etc.

Antique quilts are typically categorized by style (broad classification) and pattern (of the individual blocks). Some notable styles include central motif, log cabin, album, circular, star, patriotic, thematic, representational, whole-cloth, charm, utility, signature, medallion, redwork, appliqué small block, applique 4-block, strippey, Colonial Revival, Amish and crazy quilts, among others.

Some notable patterns (of individual blocks) include Sunbonnet Sue, fan, log cabin, Rose of Sharon, 9-patch, Lone Star, Whig’s Defeat, Pot and Flowers, hole in the barn door, bowtie, and so on. There are some situations when the pattern (block) name was also used as the style name (this was common in the 20th century), such as Sunbonnet Sue, Grandmother’s Flower Garden, Dresden Plate and Double Wedding Ring.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Quilt Index

The Quilt Index

This collaborative project provides a visual index of almost 2,000 antique quilts across multiple museums and colle… [read review or visit site]

International Quilt Study Center

International Quilt Study Center

This University of Nebraska-Lincoln affiliated site showcases a spectacular collection of more than 3,500 quilts fr… [read review or visit site]

Sewing Machine Collector

Sewing Machine Collector

Geoff and Norma Dickens' reference site on vintage toy sewing machines from the late 1800s. Browse the images alpha… [read review or visit site]

LACMA Luxury Textiles

LACMA Luxury Textiles

Textile collectors shouldn't miss this microsite from the LA County Museum of Art, a great reference on European an… [read review or visit site]

American Folk Art Museum

American Folk Art Museum

The American Folk Art Museum's website showcases current and past exhibitions along with their permanent collection… [read review or visit site]

Anonymous Works

Anonymous Works

This blog combines American primitive folk art, vintage vernacular photography, outsider art, and other interesting… [read review or visit site]

Sensibility Vintage Images

Sensibility Vintage Images

An extensive collection of photos and ephemera illustrating changing fashion styles from 1795 to 1959. Includes por… [read review or visit site]

The Outsider Art Pages

The Outsider Art Pages

A modern look at folk and outsider art with a focus on what people are doing to keep these traditions alive. The si… [read review or visit site]

Folk Art in Bottles

Folk Art in Bottles

Whether you call them Bottle Whimseys, Whimsey Bottles, Puzzle Bottles, or Whimsies, this site showcases great folk… [read review or visit site]

Index of American Design

Index of American Design

The Index of American Design project (1935-1942) was an effort to catalog American decorative arts objects from the… [read review or visit site]

Stoveburner.com

Stoveburner.com

A stunning collection of 162 images of stoveburners, those corroded cast iron elements that power stoves, broilers,… [read review or visit site]



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Recent News: Quilts

Source: Google News

Blue Greenberg: Two artists, and two views of nature
Durham Herald Sun, August 1st

Submitted/Courtesy of Rachel Meginnes. Rachel Meginnes' “Reconstruction (NC, 1920)” – using a vintage quilt top, commercial cloth, ink, and acrylic-- is on view at Light Art + Design in Chapel Hill. hsnws 8-2 greenberg 4. Submitted/Courtesy of...Read more

Home and garden notes: Quilting teacher Rita Fishel coming to Streetsboro ...
Akron Beacon Journal, July 31st

Nationally known quilting teacher and author Rita Fishel will be in Streetsboro on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, leading classes in conjunction with the Streetsboro Quilt Guild's inaugural Quilts & More Market. Fishel, a University of Akron graduate, will teach...Read more

A trip back to Tinley's early days
Chicago Tribune, July 31st

There will be antique quilts on display and live music of the period. There will also be a Civil War re-enactment as Tinley Park had several residents that were soldiers of that war. Children can enjoy early period games and activities or learn...Read more

All hands on deck
The Daily Planet, July 31st

To celebrate that history, the festival will feature a display of vintage quilts from early families in the region put on by sisters Claire Bennett and Alice Ferguson. “We always try and have something historical that we bring in from the area because...Read more

Summer songs to play out the Dog Days
Tallahassee.com, July 30th

It's a crazy-quilt collection of old — Tom Waits, the Gourds, Crowded House, Laura Veirs, Retribution Gospel Choir, Vic Chesnutt, Richard Buckner — and new. Let me tell you a little about the latter — just some brief nibbles of juicy music dribbling...Read more

ART: The art of quilting featured at the Susquehanna Art Museum
The Sentinel, July 30th

The Pilgrim/Roy collection is widely considered the foremost antique quilt collection the country. The designs date back to the late 1800s through the early 1900s. Familiar patterns are on display in many of the historic quilts, such as the “Framed...Read more

Hot Fads and Cool Trends in Cloth
Folsom Telegraph, July 29th

Hot Fads and Cool Trends in Cloth is the theme of this year's 36th Annual Vintage Quilt and Fashion Exhibit at the Folsom History Museum. A collection of 46 vintage quilts from the 1850s through the 1950s create a tapestry of colors and patterns in...Read more

Phillips Historical Society showcases antique quilts
Lewiston Sun Journal, July 23rd

LaBar learned about the Phillips quilt collection from members of the Farmington Historical Society when she was evaluating their quilts. Intrigued, she contacted Jane to request a viewing. Jane told her "to come on up". "I didn't realized what I was...Read more