Classic Quilts from the American Museum in Britain

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Classic Quilts from the American Museum in Britain photographed with a 1940's sewing box and a patchwork Jacob's Ladder in process by Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio 2013

Classic reference

I really love this book. But my love for it isn’t just about the book, it’s also about the memories it holds. It reminds me of a special day I spent with Kim in Bath about 18 months ago. It was my birthday and it was the first year I’d ever spent a birthday with just him, not seeing anyone else. We had a great time camping nearby in the beautiful Cotswold town of Bradford on Avon, and The American Museum in Britain (in Bath) was on my ‘must see’ list. Suffice it to say, it didn’t disappoint and this beautifully illustrated book captures the joys of the quilt room in a very handy form!

At the American Museum in Britain the quilts are mounted in huge perspex covered frames that are suspended from the wall on hinges down one side so that you flip through them like you would a portfolio. Looking through the book is like having your own personal version. It showcases some incredible quilts crossing several centuries, each with a potted history and details of when and where it was made (and by who, if it’s known).

There are fascinating details, including the slave who bought her freedom and became dressmaker to the president; there are Shaker and Amish quilts, friendship quilts and crazy quilts, log-cabins and stars, hexagons and appliqué. The list goes on! Wherever the page falls open there’ll be something to inspire you.

Classic Quilts from the American Museum in Britain. Detail of Sailboats Crib Quilt. On My Desk, Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Sailing away: Sailboats Crib Quilt, 1840 – 1900

Just like this dark quilt in a traditional ‘orange peel’ design; for example it’s great to see how Denyse Schmidt has interpreted this same pattern in her recent book Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration.

Books on my desk: Classic Quilts from the American Museum in Britain / Denyse Schmidt Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration. Stephanie Boon, Dawn Chorus Studio, 2013

Lafayette Orange Peel Quilt (black/cream) and Denyse Schmidt’s modern interpretation of the design

As well as the ‘entire quilt’ photos, I love the close up detail shots of the quilt surfaces so you can really scrutinise the antique fabric patterns and the tiny stitches holding the layers together. There’s something incredible about being able to see the way the fabrics have worn and become stained and faded over the centuries.

I think that above all though, by looking back through history through the eyes of this book, you have the sense that you’re contributing to a valuable and rich tradition. It really is a must have for the bookshelf for anyone that quilts or aspires to. If you haven’t got it on yours yet, I highly recommend it!

Signature: Stephie x, ps I love to chat, join me and leave a comment...

2 replies
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Ada, thanks for dropping by! It’s such a brilliant museum – and not just for the amazing quilts. The whole museum’s a real feast for the eyes with lots of folk art to see, and some lovely collections (there’s even one of moccasins!) I hope you get to see it, if you love the book I’m sure you’ll love the museum too 🙂


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