Reproducing Amish Style Quilts
Although nowadays there are quilts marketed as "Amish quilts" which are indeed made in Amish communities, these quilts do not have the real appearance of traditional Amish quilts used in Amish homes. There are specific patterns and guidelines one must use to make such a quilt. The Amish philosophy is reflected in these quilts: for the " Plain People " as the Amish call themselves, simplicity and lack of any embellishment is the name of the game. In their quilts, representations of objects are not the norm, so stay away from blocks showing leaves, baskets, appliqué images, and any other blocks that are not made up of simple geometric shapes. (Although it may be argued that some antique Amish quilts show baskets or crazy blocks embellished with embroidery, this is not at all common and so does not reflect what most people think of as typically Amish in character.)
Traditionally, the Amish do not use prints, but solids - usually in darker colors. In recent decades, it is not unusual to see bright violet or bright sky blue in their dress and in their quilts, although these are nearly always combined with black.
A dark background fabric will give you a good Amish feel. This may be black, dark brown, navy, dark green, or even deep burgundy. Do not be afraid to mix colors in the same quilt which we in the "outside" world would tend not to, such as green and blue, or green and violet. Large pieces of these colors against a dark background are exactly the ticket to getting the Amish look. When you get ready to quilt a top, use a polyester batting if possible: many quilters learn the hard way that an all cotton batting tends to find its way through black fabric, leaving an unsightly mass of lint!
For ready-made kits for Amish quilts, and hand-quilting services, contact Homemade Stitches , which specializes in these kits.
Some great books with photos of authentic Amish quilts along with a little history, are those by Rachel Pellman, including : Amish Wall Quilts: 15 Brilliant and Beautiful Quilts, The World of Amish Quilts, and A Treasury of Amish Quilts, and Quilts Among the Plain People. These are only a few of an extensive library of quilt, cooking, and social history books by Ms. Pellman. There are also a variety of other authors whose works feature full color photos and/or instructions for your own Amish style quilt. Don't miss Eve Wheatcroft Gannick's The Amish Quilt, featuring history and extensive descriptions and photos.
© Susan A. Allen, 2003 (Do not reproduce this article without permission from the author.)
Amish Quilts & Quilting History: Beauty in Simplicity
Hoopla Patterns: Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum - Plain and Fancy Series
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