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Lessons From Other Quilters

Close inspection of antique (and other) quilts reveals techniques and approaches you can use in your own work.

by Joe Cunningham
an Online Extra to Threads #98, pp. 46-50

Editor’s note: In his article in the December 2001/January 2002 issue of Threads (No. 98), Joe Cunningham examines many aspects of a single quilt from the 19th century to demonstrate his lifelong approach to quilting, which could be simply stated as: “Learn from those who have preceded you.” Here, he offers photos of three other antique quilts, both overall and in detail, with brief comments, for your further inspiration. Also included are two examples of his own work.

If you have questions, comments, or want more information about Joe and his quilts, his other publications, and even his quilt-based musical review, visit www.joethequilter.com. Enjoy!


Stripes (detail)

Stripes (c. 1900, 78 in. by 74 in.) maker unknown; cottons
Aside from its sheer boldness, this quilt gets its idiosyncratic charm from being freely cut and unevenly hand pieced. The stripes, therefore, are wobbly and organic, instead of straight and precise (detail at right).

Unnamed rose pattern

Unnamed rose pattern (detail)

Unnamed rose pattern (c. 1900, 76 in. by 76 in.) by Mary Anderson; cottons Like the unnamed floral appliqué in the article, this quilt’s blocks are all built with the same pattern pieces, but each one is different (detail at right).


Bowties (detail)

Bowties (c. 1910, 66 in. by 66 in.) maker unknown; cottons
This quiltmaker signaled her free thinking by switching to a new fabric in one corner of the center field (detail at right).

This Is A Quilt, Not Art

This Is A Quilt, Not Art (detail)

This Is A Quilt, Not Art (1996, 81 in. by 62 in.) by Joe Cunningham; cottons
I started sewing this quilt without any clear idea of how it would turn out. Nearly every aspect of it was improvised on the fly (detail at right).

Red and Blue

Red and Blue (detail)

Red and Blue (2001, 70 in. by 70 in.) by Joe Cunningham; wool and cotton
With this quilt I was trying to create a quilt that could have been made around 1800 in England. The quilting is all freehand, including the feathers in the red border (detail at right).
Joe Cunningham quilts in San Francisco, Calif., and is the author of “Quilt It Freehand”. Visit him on the Web at www.joethequilter.com.

Photos: Sloan Howard 


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