Welcome to Quilts A to Z! an enjoyable overview of quilting terms and techniques,
a brief examination of the multitude of quilt patterns and their
even more numerous names, and a revolving exhibit of fabulous
quilts from the collections of the Nebraska State Historical
Society and the International Quilt Study Center.
This exhibit is arranged alphabetically
by pattern name, and each section
features definitions of a few quilting terms. In selecting the
quilts for this exhibit we chose ones that have rarely (if ever)
been exhibited. Some of the patterns were easily identifiable,
while others proved more difficult. As quilt historian Judy Anne
Johnson Breneman said, "Rarely does a quilt pattern have
just one name and often a quilt name is given to more than one
quilt pattern." Whether or not you agree with the pattern
names assigned to the quilts in this exhibit, we hope you will
enjoy viewing them and that you will learn a little more about
quilts and quilting . . . A to Z!
Quilts A to D
Alternate name: Snowflake
Rebecca Unthank Boone Harvey, probably Indiana
84" x 80"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Mrs. Gladys Pickering
& Elmer Harvey,
Album and friendship quilts, which feature
signatures sewn or written onto the quilt top, emerged in the
1840s as a result of the autograph album craze, as well as the
invention of permanent ink in the 1830s. Rebecca Unthank Boone
Harvey, the donor's great-grandmother, may have made this quilt
when she was bedfast with back trouble. Rebecca was born in 1824,
married Henry B. Harvey, and died in 1875. This quilt contains
handwritten, inked signatures and, according to the donor, the
names are Boone family descendants. The quilt was given to the
donor by her uncle, Elmer Harvey, in 1975.
Amish Shadow Quilt
Alternate pattern name: Shadows
67" x 63"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Meda Knapp,
This quilt belonged to Mrs. Anna Holliet
Knapp, the donor's mother-in-law, who received it from her mother.
Anna Knapp was born in 1876 and married Robert Knapp around 1893.
This quilt was one of Anna's prized possessions.
A process in which small pieces of fabric are sewn onto larger
pieces of fabric by hand or machine. Appliqué, the French
word for "apply," is commonly referred to in earlier
publications as "laid work."
Album Quilt: A
quilt assembled from individual blocks, each designed and/or
executed by a different person. Album blocks are appliquéd,
pieced (or both), and frequently stitched into a quilt by a group
for presentation to a public figure or to commemorate a special
occasion. In the past, blocks were often signed and dated by
the maker in India ink or embroidery. Today, special markers
are available for signing.
Quilts done in the style of the Amish that usually feature solid
materials in deep hues, geometric patterns, and extensive decorative
Ethel King Bates, Omaha
80 .5" x 72"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Beverly Dorwick,
This typical basket pattern may have developed
from the earlier method of quilting known as Broderie Perse,
from the French for "Persian Embroidery." Broderie
Perse quilts feature motifs cut from printed chintz that are
then arranged and appliquéd onto a solid fabric. Baskets
were popular motifs in these quilts and the pieced basket pattern
may have been adapted from them. The earliest dated pieced basket
quilt is from 1855. Ethel King Bates, the donor's maternal grandmother,
made this basket quilt for Marjorie Bates, her daughter and the
The fabric used as the bottom layer of the quilt sandwich.
Batting: The filling in a quilt or the middle layer of
the quilt sandwich. Batting may be of cotton, wool, or polyester.
Attributed to Clara Bontranger, probably Holmes County, Ohio
81" x 68"
International Quilt Study Center, Ardis and Robert James Collection,
The genesis of the Bear's Paw pattern is
seen in the saw tooth designs found in early American quilts,
most commonly as borders. This design is the building block of
numerous patterns from the Bear's Paw to the Feathered Star and
strip of fabric used to cover the raw edges of the quilt sandwich.
From the French for "Persian Embroidery." An appliqué
cut from a printed fabric. This type of appliqué was common
in early American quilting using Chintz fabrics.
Ethel King Bates, Omaha
83" x 77 1/2"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Beverly Dorwick,
Ethel King Bates of Omaha, the donor's
maternal grandmother, made this well-used quilt.
cotton fabric with small repeated print designs, commonly floral.
A piecework quilt, usually one-patch, made from many different
fabrics, with no two identical.
Cheater's Cloth (or Cheater's Panel): A piece of fabric
printed to look like a pieced or appliquéd quilt top.
It can then be sandwiched, and quilted just as a standard pieced
quilt. An early example of cheater's cloth, this time for a crazy
quilt, was found in the 1927-1928 Montgomery Ward Fall-Winter
Fannie Scheafer Lightner, Pennsylvania
97" x 93"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Mrs. William Fleming,
Fannie Scheafer Lightner, the donor's grandmother,
made this basket quilt in Perry County, Pennsylvania, sometime
A cotton fabric, often with large, predominantly floral prints,
which has been treated so the surface is shiny, or has a sheen
to it. Chintz was quite popular in the Civil War era.
Alternate name: Sunburst
Amelia Phoneta Bruner Monroe, West Point, Nebraska
90" x 84"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Lily B. Munroe,
Lily Munroe donated this quilt to the Nebraska
State Historical Society. Her mother, Phoneta Bruner Munroe,
made it for her in 1932 when Phoneta was seventy-eight years
old. It is an exact copy of another quilt made by Lily's grandmother,
Amelia Brobst Bruner. Amelia's quilt, which is also in the Society's
collection, was made while she lived in Pennsylvania prior to
her 1856 move to Nebraska with her husband, Uriah Bruner.
Squares marking the four corners of a block or quilt, the same
width as the sashing.
Ladies Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Filley,
86" x 69"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Mrs. K. L. McGill,
This fabulous crazy quilt was used as a
fundraising project for the Ladies Aid Society of the Methodist
Episcopal Church in Filley, Nebraska, in 1893. Twenty quilt blocks
were made and nineteen were embroidered with the names or initials
of the maker. The twentieth block (in the center) featured the
inscription for the Society and the year. Money was raised by
selling the privilege of having one's name inscribed on the back
of the quilt. Whoever raised the most money won the quilt. The
donor's mother, Kate Williams Filley (Mrs. O. E. Filley), was
the winner and received the added bonus of having to back the
piece. Ingeniously, Kate typed the names of the "benefactors"
onto seventeen-inch strips, and laid them so that each maker's
square would be backed by her list of names. This quilt won many
prizes at the Nebraska State Fair before Kate and her husband
left Nebraska for Muskogee, Oklahoma, (then called Indian Territory),
around 1900. It won another prize from the New State Fair Association
in Muskogee before being retired from competition due to signs
Jennie C. Furguson, Aurora, Nebraska
65" X 56"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Dora Ann Tucker,
Jennie C. Furguson, the mother-in-law of
the donor, pieced this crazy quilt in Aurora, Nebraska, in the
late 1800s. The Furguson family came to Nebraska from Illinois
in 1870 and was in the banking business in Aurora for three generations.
The origin of crazy quilts may be linked to the Philadelphia
Centennial Exposition of 1876, where Japanese art and home furnishings
were exhibited and popularized. Seeking to replicate the asymmetry
found in some Japanese art, quilters and women's publications
encouraged the making of crazy quilts. Although seemingly random
and made from scraps, many crazy quilts were carefully planned,
highly embellished, and used the finest fabrics. While crazy
quilts were also constructed in plainer fashion with sturdier
fabrics, the fancier quilts were not meant solely as bedcovers
but as decoration or a testament to the maker's skill
Borders that flow in a particular direction.
Directional Prints: Fabrics with prints that flow in a particular direction.
Double Irish Chain
Francis Gimpp, Wright City, Missouri
82.5" x 76.5"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Mr. & Mrs. Thomas
H. Davis (Bette Rathburn Davis),
Francis Gimpp of Wright City, Missouri,
made this Double Irish Chain quilt and it won first prize at
the Saint Louis World's Fair in 1904. Mrs. Elizabeth Gaylord
Rathburn of Lincoln, Nebraska, bought the quilt at that time
while visiting her sister in St. Louis. She then gave it to her
daughter, Bette Rathburn Davis, who donated it to the Nebraska
State Historical Society.
Double Irish Chain: Did the Irish Chain quilt originate in Ireland?
Perhaps. Quilt historian Barbara Brackman gives 1814 as the earliest
known date of an Irish Chain quilt. However, researchers have
discovered an earlier quilt from about 1805 with a similar pattern,
which was brought to America from Ireland. Another theory claims
that the pattern may have emerged from weaving patterns. Wherever
this pattern originated, it has endured as one of America's most
popular. According to Brackman's book, Clues in the Calico,
"Most Irish Chain quilts are made of two blocks, one pieced
in a check pattern; the other plain with squares appliquéd
to the corners. With 25 checks in the pieced square, it is a
Double Irish Chain; with 49, a Triple Irish Chain."
Double Wedding Ring
Bertha G. Cairns, Nebraska
84" x 72"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Edmund B. Cairns,
Although an adaptation of the older Pickle
Dish and Friendship Knot designs, the Double Wedding Ring pattern
on this quilt emerged in the 1920s. Mrs. Bertha G. Cairns constructed
the quilt entirely by hand over a period of several years, and
her family enjoyed it for many more years in Seward, Lincoln,
Alternate pattern names: Old Maid's Puzzle, Fox & Geese
84" x 70"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: Gladys K. Dolan,
The donor's father, Homer L. Kindred, was
two years old when his family came to Nebraska from Indiana in
1868, bringing with them this lovely quilt. They settled near
Omaha and later at Homer, Nebraska. Homer Kindred eventually
married, took up the practice of medicine, and raised a family
in Meadow Grove.
May Walker and Minnie Goodman, Nebraska
85" x 85"
Nebraska State Historical Society, Source: David D. Whitney,
Post-World War I improvements in synthetic dye manufacturing
resulted in increased production of colorfast fabrics in a broad
array of colors. Light colors and pastels were very popular in
the late 1920s through the 1950s, and this quilt is a good example
of that trend. David Whitney, professor of zoology at the University
of Nebraska, paid May Walker and Minnie Goodman one hundred dollars
in 1931 to make this quilt (that's $1214.97 today!). We believe
this is from a kit, as the International Quilt Study Center collection
holds a quilt that is identical.