Thursday, September 17, 2015

Piecing History Together

By Jeff Burns

A while back, I wrote a blog called “Patchwork Revival” about my wife’s quilting hobby.  ( ) She finds old unfinished quilt tops, squares, and vintage fabric and repurposes them into new placemats, potholders, and other decorative items for the kitchen and dining room.  She’s also found some great books for inspiration, and we thought we’d share for crafty history lovers among our readers.

First, there’s The Civil War Diary Quilt, by Rosemary Youngs.  It’s quite a novel idea.  Youngs took entries from the Civil War diaries of ten different women.  The reader gets a brief introduction to each of the women and ten or twelve fascinating diary excerpts.  For each entry, Youngs has designed a quilt square and provided the pattern ad details that a home quilter can easily follow.  She has followed up with The Civil War Love Letter Quilt, which is pretty much the same concept.  Check out Youngs website at . A woman named Barbara Brackman has also written several  books about Civil War quilts and Civil War inspired works as well.

Second, there’s Laurie Aaron Hird’s series based on letters written to The Farmer’s Wife magazine in the 1920s and 1930s, The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt:  Letters from 1920s Farm Wives and the 111 Blocks They Inspired and The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them.  These letters are from women all over the country, and Hird has created a square from 1920s and 1930s reproduction fabric.  Detailed templates and instructions are included in the book and on an accompanying CD. The author blogs at

Finally, there’s A Quilted Memory: Ideas and Inspiration for Reusing Vintage Textiles, by Mary Kerr.  It’s a great introduction full of ideas for using vintage family fabrics, doilies, feedsacks, quilts, and clothes to make beautiful contemporary items that preserve family memories and history.  She’s also done seral other books on the theme. Her website is

Whether you’re a talented quilter or hobbyist like my wife, or just a history buff like me, these books are great windows into American history.

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