By: Amanda Sikarskie
Erica Wilson is best known as a teacher and designer of embroidery. Her role in the Quilt Revival of the 1970s is less well known. Through the lens of her television program, Erica, this essay explores several quiltmaking techniques (such as English template piecing, cathedral window, and yo-yo) demonstrated by Wilson in the course of her program, as well as Wilson’s interest in the intersection of embroidery and quiltmaking, including in embroidered appliqué, “quiltpoint” needlepoint, and shisha work for ralli quilts. The author will show that beyond an interest in technique, Wilson also investigated the history (as it was then understood) behind American patchwork and appliqué quilts in Erica. The essay begins with an overview of the program itself, introducing readers who may not remember the 1970s to the role of Erica in shaping the nascent craft television program genre. An appendix provides the full list of Erica episodes digitized by WGBH Boston Media Library and Archives.