How to Make a Quilt

Learn how to make a quilt with this easy-to-use guide including materials, designs and useful tips.

| January/February 1976

This article honors a gift handed down to us by the pioneer women of our country. . . a skill conceived in poverty, pride, and love and considered by some to be the only true American folk art.

I'm talking about quilting, the craft of taking what you have and piecing it together into a blanket... a craft which — sooner or later — naturally evolves into the more complex art of combining odd pieces of fabric into intricate patterns and designs.

I got started on this delightful pastime in the traditional way: I had eight beds to cover warmly and few funds to do it with. My only assets were a big bag of scraps and the memory of Mom and Gram piecing material for quilts when I was a child.

Since I'm a strong believer in the public library, that's where I went for help and I recommend that you do the same. Glorious works have been published on the subject of quilting, and references to designs for the coverlets abound in all the folk history and antique books. Also, if there's a historical museum or landmark house near you, visit it and copy down in a notebook the quilting ideas and patterns you're sure to find there.

It's odd that, among all the wealth of available reference material, I've never found a basic manual to show me step by step how to make a quilt. The fact remains that I haven't and my first attempt — a nine-block design, of which there are more variations than minds to think them up — is known accordingly as "Comedy of Errors."

I did everything wrong on my first attempt at quilting and then learned later how I should have done it. And that's why I've written this article: Amateur though I may be, even after several quilts, I still think I can save other beginners some trouble. Mainly, however, I hope to whet your appetite for, and pass on the great tradition of, this craft (as moms and grannies used to do).

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