By: Wilene Smith
There has been very little written about how nineteenth century quiltmakers collected, recorded, and exchanged patterns. Marie Webster, Patsy and Myron Orlofsky, Ruth McKendry, and Jeanette Lasansky have touched on the subject, while Dolores Hinson, in 1970, delved deeper, referring to collections of quilts blocks as “quilter’s catalogs”.
I have interviewed a quiltmaker, born in 1907 in the foothills of the Missouri Ozarks, who learned many of her cooking and needlework skills from her grandmother (1856-1933). She taught me how she “takes a pattern” from a fabric quilt block which I believe to be a dying
As my own collection of old and antique quilt blocks (nearly 500 at present) has grown, I gradually realized that the majority of them had come from collections in which nearly all the blocks were different patterns and the fabrics therein spanned a century in time. I have also found that I have been unable to identify many of these fabric quilt “patterns” with a name from published material.