By: Judy Mathieson
Many quilt patterns are literal interpretations of designs and shapes familiar to the people using them. Patterns named after stars, trees and baskets are examples of familiar shapes used in quilts. The design called Mariner’s Compass probably was suggested to early quiltmakers living on the east coast of America by sea charts that were available in the 17th and 18th centuries. An examination of compass designs on sea charts and maps from this period provides interesting background to the use of compass designs in quiltmaking from a later period.