Amish Center Diamond

By: Meta Van Nostran
Athens, Ohio

I chose this quilt to explore two interests. Could this quilt have been made in Ohio’s Amish, Mennonite, or United Brethren community and what textiles were used to make this design?
My grandfather Elmer Shetler, was a descendant of John Shetler I and his son, John II, immigrants to Pennsylvania from Germany in the late 1700s who then moved to Stark County, Ohio about 10 years later. Grandfather, a United Brethren, married Myrtle Zimmerman, a Mennonite. Her sister was the quilter in the family. I wondered if Great-Aunt Lois made this study quilt.
The answer is most likely no. All readings and an interview with two historians in the Midwest Fabric Study Group indicate that historically, this quilt was only made in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. However, it did travel west perhaps as gifts for a new home. I drafted my pattern, but then found three pattern sources published in the 1980s or 1990s.
The Williamsburg quilt top (inspiration) was made from wool crepe and twill probably acquired from a traveling salesman and purchased by the bolt to make clothing and quilts. My reproduction uses 1980s wool crepe and twill, home dyed to achieve the original colors. The 1920s – 40s wools are thin and crisp of worsted processing. The 1980s wools are a softer weave. The Williamsburg quilt has cotton batting. I used wool batting to show off the quilting in the more open weave of the 1980s wool. After dye swatch examination, I chose to brighten the blue color. All three colors are pretty true to the original colors of the quilt I examined in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Mrs. Miller, who I met in Shipshewana, Indiana, told me that double spine feathers typical in this quilt are easy to draw. “Just begin with a flowing line.” She was right. What a learning journey these two quilts have been.