Patches From the Past
Scraps of Fabric, Sewing & Quilting History

Quilt Kits: An Old Tradition Meets the Internet

Quilt kits are far from new. In the first part of the 20th century they were quite popular. Although some folks looked down their noses at them claiming they were the quiltmaking version of 'paint by the number' the renewed interest in quilting during this period gave rise to a thriving kit making industry. Women who had never quilted before got their start by purchasing a quilt kit. Some went on to become well known quilters making prizewinning original quilts. Instead of being a detriment to quilting, kits played an important part in the quilt revival of the 1920s and 30s.

Just as the popularity of quilt kits made it possible for women to start their own kit quilt businesses so long ago, today the Internet has made it possible to build an online business producing and selling quilt kits. In a sense these entrepreneurs are continuing a long tradition playing their role in the history of quilt kits. Theresa L. Berggren is one of these women.

Building Our Saratoga Block Kit

kit quilt block By Theresa Berggren   (find her Saratoga Block Kit here)

When first asked about how I came to choose the fabric prints and block designs for this sampler quilt, my first response was a very nonchalant: I simply fell in love with the prints the moment I laid eyes on them. But on further thought I found myself musing over why exactly was there this instant attraction.

Choosing the print

kit quilt fabric

Being so pressed to explain, I continued to struggle with this question until I realized, quite unexpectedly that these prints somehow ever so gently speak to me. Yes, it is true; they seem to whisper if ever so slightly of days gone by, days that didn't know of world wars and the turmoil of today. I recognize that it may seem a bit strange to hear someone talk of fabrics whispering to her; but that is the best way I can explain it. There is warmth and tranquility in these prints; they seem to create the warm sense of peace and serenity that belonged to days of long ago.

When searching for the blocks for this sampler I wanted variety and simplicity. I found that the older block designs were simple and wouldn't detract from the sense of harmony and peace that the prints exude. Then it is a matter of experimenting with fabric combinations, to see which were most pleasing. This takes time and patience because, of course, you almost never get the right combination the first time.

Making the kit

kit quilt

Getting all of this into a pre-cut quilting kit takes a lot of work. After the fabric blocks are chosen we now must go to the drafting board and design the cut files for the laser cutter.

There are twelve block designs in this sampler with three to seven different blocks in three to five prints in each one. So this takes some serious time. Accuracy is so very important as the laser will only cut as accurate as the files are designed. I must admit I am fanatical when it comes to the accuracy and will often work with it until it is accurate within 1,000 of an inch. Yes, I know, it is overkill, but it doesn't take that much longer and to be honest, I simply can't bring myself to do it any other way.

The final step: Instructions

The next step is designing the instructions. It is important that my instructions are detailed and easy to follow. So often it seems you open up a pattern only to feel that somehow you have to find a way to read the designers mind; because they certainly didn't spell out what they were thinking. Since we are a company based on making quilting easy, I design my instructions with step-by-step illustrations to walk you through from beginning to end. Finally we make a pretty cover with a colored finished block that you are encouraged to refer to often as you do the assembling of your block.

2005 Theresa Berggren (Do not reproduce this article without permission from the author.)

Recommended Website: Be sure to visit Theresa's website, Easy Quilt Kits

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