Quilts Annotated Bibliography
Dr. Ava L. McCall
● Young Adult And Children’s Books
● Adult Resources: Books
● Adult Resources: Book Chapters And Magazines
● Adult Resources: Music
● Adult Resources: Curriculum Guides
● Audiovisual Resources
Young Adult And Children’s Books
ABC Quilts. (1992). Kids making quilts for kids. Gualala, CA: Quilt Digest Press.
Upper elementary level. This text explains how children and adolescents can make quilts
to comfort young children ill with HIV or the AIDS virus or born with birth defects
caused by alcohol, cocaine, or other harmful drugs. The text also provides quilt patterns,
information about AIDS, drug addiction, and alcohol for older children and adolescents,
and where the finished quilts can be sent.
Atkins, J. (1999). A name on the quilt: A story of remembrance. New York: Atheneum Books for
Picture book, elementary level. After the main character Lauren’s uncle died from AIDS,
she, her family and some of Uncle Ron’s friends make a quilt panel in his memory. As
they work on the quilt, they remember Uncle Ron’s eyes, his garden, and his love of
swimming and ice skating. In addition to quilting his name on the panel, they add socks
he wore when he skated, danced, and climbed mountains.
Avery, K. (1994). The crazy quilt. Glenview, IL: GoodYearBooks.
Lower elementary level. When Tanya asked her mother about a crazy quilt, Tanya's
mother explained it was made from family members' favorite clothing. Mother told of the
origin of each piece on the quilt. Much to her family's surprise, Tanya made her own
crazy quilt from the favorite clothing of her parents, sister, and brother!
Bateson-Hill, M. (1998). Shota and the star quilt. Chicago: Zero to Ten.
Elementary level. The text is written in English and Lakota and contains valuable
background information on the Lakota and the place of star quilts within Lakota history
and culture. The story focuses on the creation of a star quilt to depict the importance of
community among residents of an apartment building. Much to the dismay of the families
living in the building, they discover their home will be destroyed in order to make way for
“development.” While the adults bring petitions to Mr. Starman, the developer,
requesting he reconsider his decision to destroy their homes, two young girls Shota and
Esther give the star quilt to Mr. Starman. The quilt convinces Mr. Starman to preserve the
homes for Shota’s and Esther’s families and friends.
Bial, R. (1996). With needle and thread: A book about quilts. New York: Houghton Mifflin.
Upper elementary. The author provides a succinct narrative embellished with excellent
photographs of quilts in U.S. history. He describes how quilting was an important means
of expression for women, the purposes of quilting, the process of making a quilt, and
identifies possible origins of quilting as a textile art. During different historical periods,
quilts were made for different purposes, distinct patterns were created, and the materials
varied according to the economics and technology of the period.
Bolton, J. (1993/1994). My grandmother's patchwork quilt: A book and pocketful of patchwork
pieces. New York: Delacorte.
Lower elementary level. This book has a double text. One is the author's grandmother
explaining daily events in her life growing up with animals on a farm. The other is the
author relating how her grandmother made an applique doll quilt illustrating her life with
the farm animals. The illustrations depict each block from the quilt and the pattern and
directions are included for readers to make their own representation of the quilt.
Brumbeau, J. (2000). The quiltmaker’s gift. Duluth, MN: Pfeifer-Hamilton.
Elementary level. The text is an inspiring story of a quiltmaker who makes beautiful
quilts and gives them away only to homeless and poor people. The other main character is
a wealthy king who possesses many beautiful gifts, but none which make him happy.
When the king learns of the quiltmaker’s talent in creating exquisite quilts, he demands
she give one of her quilts to him. The quiltmaker refuses unless he give his possessions
away. The text is beautifully illustrated with many quilt patterns, including 250 patterns
hidden in the book jacket illustration. It addresses the struggle between generosity and
greediness and which human quality leads to happiness.
Cobb, M. (1995). The quilt-block history of pioneer days. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press.
Upper elementary/middle school level and teacher resource. The author integrates
descriptions of European American families moving west with the place of quilts as part
of their daily lives. Each chapter describes an aspect of the move west--leaving family
and friends, enduring the journey, building a new home, and meeting basic needs and
having fun in a new area. For each chapter, different quilt patterns are illustrated and
explained in simple projects children can complete.
Coerr, E. (1986). The Josefina story quilt. New York: HarperCollins.
Lower elementary level. During the family's move to California in 1850, Faith, a young
European-American girl, makes a quilt to show events during the long trip West in a
covered wagon. The heroine of the story quilt is Josefina, the pet hen.
Dwyer, M. (2000). Quilt of dreams. Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Center Publishing.
Upper elementary level. Katy’s grandmother was the quilter in the family and made
several quilts for Katy and her parents. After Katy’s grandmother dies, Katy and her
mother finish a quilt her grandmother started. They find many triangular shaped fabric
pieces and only one completed block. As they complete the pattern, Katy and her mother
discuss the uniqueness of each quilt, the meaning of the new quilt pattern, and the
tradition of quilting with family members.
Ernst, L. C. (1983). Sam Johnson and the blue ribbon quilt. New York: Mulberry Books.
Lower elementary level. After the members of the Rosedale Women's Quilting Club
refused to allow Sam Johnson to join, Sam formed the Rosedale Men's Quilting Club in
protest of the unfair treatment he received. Each club quilted a quilt to enter in the county
fair in competition with each other. When both quilts became soiled enroute to the fair,
the clubs then cooperatively created a new quilt from the clean parts of the two original
quilts. The author tries to show that quilting is something men can do, but I was dismayed
at the inference that quilting can be learned and mastered easily.
Fair, S. (1982). The bedspread. New York: Morrow Junior Books.
Lower elementary level. Two older sisters, confined to each end of a very long bed,
decided their bedspread was too plain. They each embroidered their interpretation of the
home in which they grew up and transformed the plain bedspread into a lovely, stitched
picture of their memories of their childhood.
Flournoy, V. (1985). The patchwork quilt. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.
Lower elementary level. Tanya's African-American grandmother was making a family
patchwork quilt out of worn-out clothes from Tanya, her brothers, and parents and scraps
of fabric left over from clothes sewn for the family. When Tanya's grandmother became
ill, Tanya continued to work on the quilt. When Tanya's grandmother recovered, she was
able to finish the family history quilt.
Franco, B. (1999). Grandpa’s quilt. New York: Children’s Press.
Picture book, lower elementary level. When three children realize their grandpa’s quilt is
too short to keep his toes warm, they redesign the quilt several times in order to make the
quilt long enough to cover his toes. The quilt pattern changes each time they modify the
Goforth, S. L. (1994). Tutu and the ulu tree. Honolulu, HI: MnM Books.
Picture book, elementary level. The text portrays Grandmother (Tutu) making a
traditional Hawaiian quilt using a design from the ulu or breadfruit tree. As Grandmother
explains the importance and history of breadfruit trees to her grandchildren, readers learn
about the history and culture of Hawaii as well as the background and many uses of
breadfruit trees. Grandmother also clarifies that Hawaiian quilts are special because they
contain the quiltmaker’s spirit or a touch of the soul. Many Native Hawaiian words are
used throughout the text, which are explained in the glossary. Directions are also included
for making breadfruit pudding, breadfruit chips, and a breadfruit pillow top or quilt
Good, M. (1999). Reuben and the quilt. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.
Picture book, lower elementary level. The text portrays an Amish family, including
Reuben, who makes a log cabin quilt to sell at an auction in order to raise money for a
neighbor’s hospital costs. The story reveals the importance of children and parents
working together in completing chores around the farm. When it is time to work on the
quilt, Reuben, his mother, and sisters all cooperate to finish it. The text also depicts some
of the Amish values, including generosity and forgiveness, when someone steals the quilt
from the front porch of their home and they offer the “quilt taker” matching log cabin
pillow cases. Fortunately, the quilt returns and is auctioned for a high price. The auction
illustrates the value of closeness and care within Amish communities.
Guback, G. (1994). Luka's quilt. New York: Greenwillow Books.
Lower elementary level. This book introduced Hawaiian quilting traditions of applique
patterns in two colors. Luka's grandmother Tutu (the Hawaiian name for grandmother)
made a traditional Hawaiian quilt for Luka, but when Tutu followed the tradition of two
colors only on the quilt, Luka was disappointed. Luka wanted many colored flowers on
her quilt. Tutu finally understood her granddaughter's wishes and made a quilted lei
which could be placed on top of the original quilt on Luka's bed.
Hicks, K. E. (2007). Martha Ann’s quilt for Queen Victoria. Dallas, TX: Brown Books.
Elementary level. The text is historical fiction, but based on a true story of Martha Ann
Ricks, a freed slave from Tennessee who moved with her family to Liberia in 1830. There
the American Colonization Society helped Martha Ann and her family start a new life.
Martha Ann was able to attend school in Liberia, and her mother taught her to sew and
quilt. When Martha Ann grew up and married, she became aware of British ships
patrolling the Liberian coast to stop slave catchers from kidnapping Africans and forcing
them into slavery. Martha Ann was grateful to Queen Victoria, the Queen of England, for
providing this protection, and pledged to visit Queen Victoria one day to thank her
personally. Martha Ann created an original quilt “the Coffee Tree quilt” as a gift and
saved spare coins for 50 years to pay for the trip to visit Queen Victoria. The quilt was
exhibited in the Liberian exhibit area at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago,
Illinois in 1893.
Hines, A. G. (2001). Pieces: A year in poems & quilts. New York: Greenwillow Books.
Picture book, elementary level. The text contains poems about different seasons of the
year, each illustrated by a colorful, original quilt design. “To Each His Own” focuses on
leaves falling during autumn and is illustrated with quilted maple leaves in fall colors. “In
March” describes winter changing into spring and is embellished with a quilted pastel
landscape. Quilted light blue strips hint at streaks of rain. “Silhouettes” and “Shadows”
describe bare trees against the winter sky and are illustrated by a quilted design of trees
branches against a light background.
Hopkinson, D. (1993). Sweet Clara and the freedom quilt. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Lower elementary level. Clara was a young African-American slave who became a
seamstress and escaped the hardships of working in the fields. After hearing many other
slaves talk about the Underground Railroad route, Clara made a patchwork quilt
providing a map of the route showing the way to freedom for those slaves desiring to
Hopkinson, D. (2001). Under the quilt of night. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Elementary level. The author’s illustrated poetry describes an imagined journey of
escaping slaves as they travel to freedom in Canada on the Underground Railroad. The
author’s note elaborates on the inclusion of quilts as signals for safe houses. In one of the
poems, “Watching,” a log cabin quilt with blue rather than red centers hanging on a fence
in front of a house provides a sign that escaping slaves will find shelter and assistance as
they travel north. The author acknowledges the research completed by Tobin and Dobard
in Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad and that
of Cuesta Benberry in providing background information on quilts and the Underground
Howard, E. (1996). The log cabin quilt. New York: Holiday House.
Elementary level. The main character, Elvirey, and her family moved from Carolina to
Michigan in a covered wagon. Elvirey's grandmother liked to quilt and insisted on taking
her large bag of quilting scraps in the crowded wagon. After they arrived in Michigan,
they built a log cabin and chinked the log walls with mud, grass, and moss. On a very
cold night when Pa was out hunting, Elvirey discovered chinking with quilting scraps not
only kept out the cold, but made the log cabin bright. She and her siblings created a "log
Jensen, N. O. J. (2007). Helen, Ethel & the crazy quilt. Mahomet, IL: Mayhaven Publishing.
Elementary level. The text is historical fiction, but is based on preserved letters written by
Helen Keller to Ethel Orr in 1890, and the crazy quilt made by Ethel’s mother Mary
Louise Orr showing signatures of famous people. When Ethel’s mother was nearly
finished making the quilt, she suggested that her daughter send a letter to Helen Keller
asking her to sign a white silk ribbon to add to the quilt. Even though Helen said she
could not sign the silk ribbon to add to the quilt because of her blindness, Ethel’s request
began a brief correspondence between the two. The text includes illustrations of the
finished quilt as well as the letters from Helen Keller to Ethel Orr.
Johnston, T. & dePaola, T. (1985). The quilt story. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
Lower elementary level. Abigail's mother made a quilt for her which Abigail played with
and slept under. When Abigail's family moved across the plains and built a log cabin
house in pioneer times, the quilt comforted Abigail. Generations later, another Abigail
found the quilt in the attic in disrepair, but loved it as much as her ancestor. After
Abigail's mother repaired it, the quilt again comforted Abigail when her family moved
many miles away to a new house. The text illustrates the importance of quilts as family
heirlooms which are passed from one generation to another as well as the significance of
quilts as a source of comfort.
Jonas, A. (1984). The quilt. New York: Greenwillow Books.
Lower elementary level. A young African-American girl had a new personal history quilt
for her bed made out of clothes, curtains, and sheets which she outgrew. At night the quilt
seemed to come alive in her dreams and become a small town with a circus.
Kinsey-Warnock, N. (1989). The Canada geese quilt. New York: Dell.
Upper elementary level. The story focuses on the cycles of life and the relationship
between 10-year-old Ariel and her grandmother. A specially designed handmade quilt
becomes a symbol of love and hope for the girl.
Kurtz, S. (1991). The boy and the quilt. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.
Lower elementary level. The book portrays a young boy making a patchwork quilt at the
invitation and with much assistance from his mother. The boy cut many patches, arranged
them, and sewed them together with the sewing machine. His mother completed the
edging and actual quilting of the patchwork quilt. After the quilt is done, the boy knows it
will always be his to keep him warm on cold nights. The end of the book provides
directions for making a similar quilt.
Kuskin, K. (1994). Patchwork island. New York: HarperCollins.
Lower elementary level. The text illustrates the creation of an original quilt "patchwork
island" portraying the physical environment of a mother and her son. Through the careful
arrangement of different fabrics, the quilt depicted the green fields and valleys, blue sea
and sky, yellow hills, and gray roads of the island where the quilter and her son live. After
the quilt was finished, the small boy played on it during the day and slept under it at
Laury, J. R. (1985). Sunbonnet Sue goes to the quilt show. San Francisco: Quilt Digest Press.
Elementary and adult level (especially for enthusiastic quilters). The author portrays a
humorous look at Sunbonnet Sue's attendance at a quilt conference. Sunbonnet Sue
arrives at the conference loaded down with many quilting materials, enters her quilt in the
exhibit, evaluates others' quilts, falls asleep during lectures, stays up late eating and
talking with friends, attends class, purchases even more quilting supplies, and falls asleep
on the way home dreaming of the next quilt show.
Laury, J. R. (1987). Sunbonnet Sue gets it all together at home. San Francisco: Quilt Digest
Elementary and adult level (especially for enthusiastic quilters). The author continues her
humorous depiction of quilters whose zest for quilting help them ignore more mundane
aspects of life. Once Sunbonnet Sue becomes engrossed in making quilts, she does not
notice dying plants, dirty dishes, burning food, empty pantry shelves, and wrinkled
clothes. As her quilting continues, she takes over the kitchen table, living room, and her
husband Overall Andy's workshop. Finally, Andy and Sue create her quilting studio in the
dining room they no longer use.
Laury, J. R. (1987). Sunbonnet Sue makes her first quilt. San Francisco: Quilt Digest Press.
Elementary and adult level (especially for enthusiastic quilters). After Sunbonnet Sue
decides to make her first quilt, she searches for a pattern and fabrics. Although she plans
to use her family's old clothes in the quilt, she ends up purchasing many new fabrics and a
multitude of other quilting supplies. In her enthusiasm for completing the quilt, she stays
up late and ignores cooking. Her hard work is rewarded by winning the "Best First Quilt"
award at the quilt show and decides to make another quilt to use the excess fabric from
her first quilt.
Laury, J. R. (1990). No dragons on my quilt. Paducah, KY: American Quilter's Society.
Lower elementary level. When Benjamin visits his grandmother, he needs many things to
help him go to sleep: a drink of water, a cookie, his toys put away, one more story read to
him, his teeth brushed, and no dragons around. Benjamin's grandmother made a quilt with
blocks representing all the things Benjamin needed; no dragons included. The directions
and block patterns for this quilt are included at the end of the book.
Laury, J. R. (1994). 14,287 pieces of fabric and other poems. Lafayette, CA: C & T Publishing.
Elementary and adult level (for readers who understand the obsessive nature of quilting).
All of the poems provide a humorous glimpse into quilters' lives. The title poem portrays
a quilter's reluctance to share any of her 14,287 pieces of fabric with her family members,
even for emergencies. Other poems highlight the distinction between the artistic nature of
quilting and the mundane quality of mending, quilting as a means of saving the farm, the
use of time-saving household appliances in order to quilt by hand, and keeping fit through
Liebig, N. J. (1996). Carrie and the crazy quilt. Mount Horeb, WI: Midwest Traditions.
Upper elementary level. Carrie’s story takes place in the village of Peshtigo, Wisconsin in
1871, during the Great Peshtigo Fire. Every night Carrie finds comfort in a crazy quilt
made by her and her grandmother Oma before Oma died. Another crazy quilt Carrie and
her grandmother made helps Carrie, a friend, a cow, and a baby survive the great fire by
escaping to the Peshtigo River.
Love, D. A. (1995). Bess' log cabin quilt. New York: Holiday House.
Upper elementary level. After Bess and her parents move to Oregon, Bess' mother also
teaches her to quilt and emphasizes the importance of taking small stitches and
developing patience. Although at first Bess is not that interested in quilting, when she
learns of a quilt contest which the prize money would pay off a family debt, she works
intently and finishes her first quilt. Although it seems unlikely Bess' first quilt would be
judged more highly than other experienced quilters' work, her quilt ties for second place
in the contest.
Lyons, M. E. (1993). Stitching stars: The story quilts of Harriet Powers. New York: Charles
Upper elementary level. This piece of nonfiction describes Harriet Powers's life and two
of her now famous quilts. The Bible quilt is made of 299 appliqued pieces depicting Bible
scenes. The second story-quilt illustrates Bible stories and local folktales. The first quilt is
now owned by the Smithsonian Institution, the second by the Museum of Fine Arts in
Martin, J. B. (1988). Bizzy bones and the lost quilt. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.
Lower elementary level. Bizzy Bones, a mouse, had a quilt that was so special he
considered it his best friend which he took everywhere with him. When he lost the quilt
on an outing with his Uncle Ezra, he had trouble sleeping and was cold and lonely. Even
though Uncle Ezra began making a new quilt for Bizzy, Bizzy was sad until other animal
friends found the special quilt. In order to repair the big hole in the special quilt, Uncle
Ezra and the friends stitched a new patch tree pattern over the hole and Bizzy had his best
McKissack, P. C. (2008). Stitchin’ and pullin’: A Gee’s Bend quilt. New York: Random House.
The poetic text describes Gee’s Bend, an African American community in Wilcox,
Alabama which originated as part of the Gee’s Bend cotton plantation. The poems focus
on the women, their quilting, and their quilts, which became well known and were
exhibited in art museums around the country. The women descended from emancipated
slaves who became sharecroppers and farmers and learned to make quilts from used
clothing. Although the quilts were artistic and often told stories, they were made
primarily for warmth. One poem describes the Freedom Quilting Bee, which was formed
to make and sell quilts. These quilts provided much needed income, but the quilters were
restricted to traditional quilt designs and could no longer make their own patterns. Some
women chose not to participate in order to have the freedom to design their own quilts.
Mills, L. (1991). The rag coat. Boston: Little, Brown.
Lower and upper elementary level. The main character, Minna, is the oldest child of a
poor family in Appalachia. Her mother quilts with other "Quilting Mothers" to earn
money. When Minna admits she can't go to school until she has a coat, the "Quilting
Mothers" quilt one for her using their rags. The coat becomes a patchwork quilt of all
their families' stories.
Paul, A. W. (1996). The seasons sewn: A year in patchwork. San Diego: Browndeer.
Upper elementary level. The author describes seasonal activities in the 18th and 19th
centuries in U.S. history and speculates how these activities might have led to the creation
of 24 specific quilt patterns. For example, the rising star pattern might have come from
African American slaves following the North Star in escaping to freedom.
Paul, A. W. (1991). Eight hands round: A patchwork alphabet. New York: HarperCollins.
Lower and upper elementary level. This alphabet book presents U.S. history by
illustrating various types of patchwork quilts. Each of the twenty-six patterns is colorfully
drawn and accompanied by a history of its origins.
Paulsen, G. (2004). The quilt. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.
Upper elementary/middle school level. The novel takes place in 1944 during World War
II when a young boy spends the summer with his Norwegian grandmother in Minnesota.
The boy learns about a special quilt his grandmother and other women in his family made
with patches of clothing commemorating different family members. As the women look
at the quilt, they tell stories about relatives who have passed on and whose clothing and
name are sewn into the quilt. The text portrays the power and strength of women to “go
on” while men are away fighting and sometimes losing their lives.
Polacco, P. (1988). The keeping quilt. New York: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Lower elementary level. The author's great grandmother Anna came to the United States
from Russia with her family. Anna's mother made a family history quilt out of Anna's old
dress and babushka, an uncle's shirt, one aunt's nightdress, and another aunt's apron so the
family would not forget Russia. The quilt was used for significant family celebrations
such as special dinners, weddings, and births and was passed down from one generation
to another. The quilt also became a means of remembering those whose clothes were
stitched in the quilt.
Ransom, C. F. (1999). The promise quilt. New York: Walker.
Elementary level. The text depicts the hardships for southern families during the Civil
War when family members are away fighting, Union and Confederate forces confiscate
family resources, and the country side is damaged by the fighting. Addie, her mother, and
brother learn to make do with no new clothes and limited food and cope with the loss of
their father. When it is time to go to school, Addie is saddened to learn the school was
destroyed during the war. Attending school is a promise her father made to her before the
war. Fortunately, the neighbors find a place for the school and Addie’s mother makes a
quilt to sell to purchase books and slates. Addie bravely gives her father’s last piece of
clothing in order to complete the quilt pattern “Lee’s Surrender,” which provides the
materials needed for the school and allows her father’s promise to be kept.
Ringgold, F. (1991). Tar beach. New York: Crown.
Lower elementary level. Tar beach originally was a story quilt which combines
autobiography, fictional narrative, painting, and quilt making in one art form. The picture
book describes the author's childhood memories, including her father's exclusion from a
union because he was both African American and Native American. The fictional heroine
of the book is a young African American girl who emancipates her father.
Ringgold, F. (1992). Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the sky. New York: Crown.
Lower and upper elementary level. The author bases this book on Harriet Tubman's
strange dreams of flying to freedom with the aid of a circle of women dressed in white.
The book integrates knowledge of the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman's life
with more contemporary, imaginary events. It explains the significance of a star quilt on
the roof of a house as a signal that the house was "safe" for escaping slaves
Ringgold, F. (1999). The invisible princess. New York: Crown.
Picture book, elementary level. Ringgold has created a fairy tale which transforms
African Americans’ racial oppression during legalized slavery into a tale of freedom and
hope. The story is also portrayed in one of Ms. Ringgold’s story quilts “Born in a
Cottonfield” and is part of her American Collection series of quilts that combine painting,
quilted fabric, and storytelling. Ringgold briefly describes the oppressive living
conditions for African Americans during slavery, but also creates a beautiful princess,
who would otherwise have become a slave, into a magical being who helps form the
Invisible Village of Peace, Freedom, and Love
Root, P. (2003). The name quilt. New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.
Picture book, lower elementary level. When Sadie visits Grandma, she enjoys the
evenings when Grandma tucks her in with the name quilt. As Sadie points out a name on
the quilt, Grandma tells her a story about the family member represented on the quilt.
When the name quilt is blown away in a storm, Grandma reassures Sadie she still
remembers the stories about each family member. They spend the remainder of the
summer making a new name quilt, one that also includes Sadie. The text reflects the
value of family history recorded in quilts.
Ross, K. & Ross, A. (1995). Cemetery quilt. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Upper elementary level. This text deals with quilting as a way to record family history
and a means to cope with death. When Josie, the main character, visits her grandmother
to attend the funeral of her grandfather, her grandmother shows Josie the quilt. Josie's
great great grandmother made the quilt as a way to grieve the deaths of two young sons.
At the time Josie's great great grandmother made the quilt, she created small coffins
stitched with the name of each family member on the coffin. When a family member
died, that person's coffin was moved to the middle of the quilt in the "cemetery."
Although Josie was troubled by the quilt at first, as Josie's grandmother worked on the
quilt after the funeral, Josie was comforted by talking with her grandmother and being
added to the quilt.
Rubin, S. G. (2017). The quilts of Gee’s Bend. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.
Upper elementary/middle school level. The text portrays the striking artistic quilts created
by the African American women from Gee’s Bend, Alabama for several generations. The
women made quilts because they needed warm bedcovers for their poorly insulated
homes. They could see the ground through the floorboards and look outside through
spaces between the logs in the walls. They placed quilts on the walls for insulation and
family members wrapped up in quilts to be warm enough to sleep. The women quilters
used scraps from old dresses, aprons, overalls, and work shirts to make their quilts and
usually learned to quilt from their grandmothers, mothers, and aunts. Their quilts were
unique and became recognized as works of art suitable for hanging on museum walls. The
text illustrates how necessity can stimulate creativity.
Smucker, B. (1995). Selina and the Bear Paw quilt. New York: Crown.
Elementary level. The story takes place during the time of the Civil War. Selina and her
family are Mennonites who do not believe in war. Fearing they will be persecuted for not
aiding in the war, they flee to Canada. Selina's grandmother chooses not to move, but
makes a Bear Paw quilt top as a special gift to Selina as a link between them. The book's
illustrations show many lovely quilt patterns and portrays a quilting bee to quilt one of
Selina's grandmother's quilts.
Sorensen, V. (1983). Plain girl. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
Upper elementary and middle school level. This book informs the reader about Amish
culture, including the reluctance of the Amish to let their children attend traditional
schools and become "Americanized" and the experiences of the main character, Esther, in
attending school with other non-Amish children. The book also describes clothing,
farming, worship, and marriage traditions including the custom of making a quilt in
preparation for a couple's wedding. All the Amish women from the community attended
the all-day "quilting" on a pattern which had been in Esther's family for generations.
Stroud, B. (1996). Down home at Miss Dessa's. New York: Lee & Low.
Picture book, elementary level. Two young African American girls enjoy spending time
with an elderly neighbor who looks after them from time to time. When Miss Dessa falls
and hurts her foot, the girls stay with her and help to care for her. Miss Dessa also teaches
them how to make quilts, using a quilting frame which hangs from the ceiling.
Stroud, B. (2005). The patchwork path: A quilt map to freedom. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
Picture book, elementary level. The text is based on the story of how slaves used quilts to
communicate on the Underground Railroad and recorded in the text Hidden in plain view:
A secret story of quilts and the Underground Railroad by Tobin and Dobard. The author
clarifies the “facts” of the story in the “Afterword.” The text can be used to promote
discussion regarding possible uses of quilts on the Underground Railroad, which is
controversial. Some historians dispute some of the claims recorded in the Tobin and
Tenorio-Coscarelli, J. (1996). The tortilla quilt: Story, recipe, quilt pattern. Murietta, CA: 1/4
Inch Designs & Publishing.
Picture book, lower elementary level. Although the text is written in English, some
Spanish words are included to help readers learn these terms. The text tells the story of
Maria making a quilt, with the aid of her grandmother and family members whom her
grandmother worked for, Mrs. Olson and her daughter Sarah. The fabrics include reused
flour and meal sacks from Grandmother Lupita and dresses which Maria and Sarah had
outgrown. When they place the quilt in a quilting frame, the two girls and two women
spend evenings quilting the layers together. Each quilts a different pattern to reflect her
feelings about the quilt or other people and the place where they live. Even though Maria
generously gives the quilt to her grandmother, the quilt is eventually passed down to
Maria and she uses it to tell her own daughter about her childhood. The author includes
the recipe for making tortillas, a photograph of a completed tortilla quilt, and directions
for readers to complete their own quilt.
Tenorio-Coscarelli, J. (1998). Tamale quilt: Story, recipe, quilt pattern. Murietta, CA: 1/4 Inch
Designs & Publishing.
Picture book, lower elementary level. The text is written in English, but Spanish is
included for some of the terms. The author tells the story of a grandmother who makes a
tamale quilt while relaying her family’s tradition of making tamales each Christmas. The
grandmother continues to make tamales for the holidays and creates a special quilt as a
gift to her mother. As the grandmother shares the quilt and the family story with her
grandchildren, she describes the meaning of the colors and quilt pattern to reflect the
ingredients, her parents’ hands who make the tamales, and the love with which the
tamales are made. The author includes the recipe for making tamales and directions for
creating the tamale quilt.
Tenorio-Coscarelli, J. (1999). The pinata quilt: Story, quilt pattern, pinata project. Murietta, CA:
1/4 Inch Designs & Publishing.
Picture book, lower elementary level. The author continues her pattern of preparing the
text in English, with Spanish words included for some phrases. The text portrays a special
quilt which Tia Lilly makes for her nephew Albert, a star pinata quilt, as Albert prepares
to leave home for college. The uniqueness of the quilt is revealed in the story about the
star pinata Albert and Tia Lilly make for Albert’s birthday when he was a young boy.
Because Albert did not want to share the candy and toys inside the pinata with the other
children at his birthday party, he added extra glue to the pinata when Tia Lilly was not
looking. When no child could break the pinata at Albert’s birthday party, Albert confesses
the reason. The quilt becomes a symbol of the love between Tia Lilly and Albert, the
birthdays they shared, the memories of growing up, and the pinata they made which no
one could break.
Terris, S. (1987). Nell's quilt. New York: Scholastic.
Middle school and secondary level. This book portrays the experiences of Nell, a young
woman growing up in a working class family in the 19th century. Nell desired to attend
college, but her family could not afford it and instead arranged for her marriage to a
widowed cousin. Nell's resistance to the marriage comes out quietly in her focus on
making a quilt and eating very little (in contemporary terms Nell suffers from anorexia
nervosa). As she grew thinner and thinner, Nell's quilt became more and more of an
elaborate representation of her life.
Thompson, B. (1995). The magic quilt. Littleton, MA: Sundance.
Picture book, lower elementary level. Written in a poetic style, the book portrays a young
girl who misses her mother. Her grandmother and she make a magic quilt from the
mother's clothes which serves as a reminder of her mother and a way to keep her mother
Turner, A. (1990). Through moon and stars and night skies. New York: Charlotte Zolotow Book.
Picture book, lower elementary. The text describes the long journey a little boy without a
momma and poppa took from his first country to become adopted by a couple living in a
different country far away. Before he begins the trip, he is given pictures of his new
parents, their house, and the teddy bear quilt on his new bed. The pictures help him to
know his new parents and home and feel safe under the teddy bear quilt.
Turner, A. (1994). Sewing quilts. New York: Macmillan
Lower elementary level. This book provided a brief glimpse into rural family life in the
early 20th century and the importance of quilting. For the narrator, a young girl, her
mother's School House quilt represented keeping the family safe, even when their house
burned. Her own Bear Paw quilt portrayed her hope that no bears would chase her father
as they had in the past. Her younger sister, Mollie, made a small quilt for her doll out of
the colors of the U. S. flag.
Turner, R. M. (1993). Faith Ringgold. Boston: Little, Brown.
Upper elementary level. This book profiles the life of Faith Ringgold who became famous
for her story quilts which combined the storytelling tradition with paintings on quilted
canvas. The book describes Ms. Ringgold's creation of a new art form through story quilts
as a sign of her determination to be true to her African-American heritage.
Van Leeuwen, J. (2007). Papa and the pioneer quilt. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.
Elementary. The author narrates a story of her family’s frequent moves from
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and finally to Oregon because of her father’s
“wandering feet.” Even though the main character Rebecca does not want to move, her
mother knows it is her father’s dream to move to Oregon. The text illustrates challenges
of the trail and how Rebecca decides to collect scraps of fabric along the way to make a
quilt. The scraps illustrate significant events related to the move, including the
handkerchief from Rebecca’s grandmother who didn’t want them to move, scraps from
her father’s shirt when he nearly drowned while helping the oxen cross a river, a
sunbonnet from a friend who traveled with them for a while, the tattered britches from her
brother after he was run over by a wagon, a pretty tablecloth left by the side of the trail,
and her own dress she wore each day of the journey. Rebecca and her mother created a
“Wandering Foot” quilt with the scraps, which was a popular quilt pattern during the
mid-nineteenth century. The author’s note clarifies that quilters decide to rename the quilt
pattern “Turkey Tracks” because they did not want their children to leave them if they
slept under a “Wandering Foot” quilt.
Vaughan, M. (2001). The secret to freedom. New York: Lee and Low Books.
Elementary. Through one family’s story, readers learn about some of the hardships of
slavery which leads the main character’s brother to escape to Canada and find freedom.
The unique aspect of the book is the use of quilt patterns as a code letting slaves know
preparations to make to escape, when to escape, and directions to take on the journey. For
example, the monkey wrench pattern told slaves to gather tools and supplies needed for
escaping, the tumbling blocks patterns announced it was time to leave, and the bear’s
paw pattern let slaves know to follow bear tracks through the mountains rather than use
Waterstone, R. (1999). The much too loved quilt. Clarksville, TN: First Story.
Lower elementary level. A class of students create a classroom quilt with each square
designed by one of the students. After it is completed, the teacher draws names for
children to take the quilt home for the weekend. One of the students, Amanda, is careful
to keep the quilt clean, but when others had it, the quilt became soiled and torn, then
faded and shrunk in places from being in the dryer too long. However, the students learn,
“quilts don’t have to be perfect, and neither do people.”
Wilbur, H. L. (2011). F is for friendship: A quilt alphabet. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press.
Elementary level. The book contains two texts: the main text which follows the alphabet
format written in rhyming verse and could be read aloud and the subtext which provides
additional background information on quilts. For example, “F is for friendship” includes a
verse about quilting and friendship as the main text and the subtext explains the purpose
of early quilting bees, which changed into quilt clubs and guilds and quilting blogs, chat
groups, and online guilds.
Willard, N. (1987). The mountains of quilt. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Elementary level. A fantasy about a grandmother who makes crazy quilts, four magicians
who entertain each other with their magic, and a magpie. When the magpie steals a small,
magic carpet from one of the magicians and takes it to grandmother, she puts it into the
center of her new crazy quilt. The crazy quilt becomes a bit magical.
Woodson, J. (2005). Show way. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
Elementary level. The author traces her family history from her great great great
grandmother who was a slave, but learned to sew quilts which showed the way to
freedom, to herself and her own daughter. The quilt-making tradition was passed along to
the daughters and granddaughters who continued to sew quilts even after they were no
longer slaves. The “Trail to the North” or “Show Way” quilts became a way to earn a
living and remember their history. The text illustrates the love between mother and
daughter and the importance of passing along family history.
Zerner, J. S. (1995). The dream quilt. Boston: Charles E. Tuttle.
Upper elementary level and bedtime reading. When Alex, the main character, arrives at
his Aunt Rachel's house for a week by the sea, he sleeps in the attic room under a quilt
made by his great-great grandmother for his great-great grandfather. Each time he falls
asleep under the quilt, a certain patch of the quilt stands out and leads him into imaginary
adventures with dragons, spiders, sea animals, and Daisy, the cat.
Adult Resources: Books
Agosin, M. (1996). Tapestries of hope, threads of love: The arpillera movement in Chile 1974-1994. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.
Although arpilleras are not quilts, they are another textile art form which have served as a
significant outlet for women’s self-expression. The author describes the creation of
arpilleras or “the cloth of resistance” as women’s responses to the Chilean military
dictatorship of Pinochet from 1973 through 1989. During this period approximately
10,000 people, frequently men, were imprisoned and then disappeared. Women used
scraps of cloth to document in wall hangings what life was like under Pinochet, to keep
the memory of their loved ones alive, and to earn crucial income from the sale of the
arpilleras. The text also includes colored photographs of many of the arpilleras created
Atkins, J. M. (1994). Shared threads: Quilting together--past and present. New York: Viking
The author explains the history and reasons for group quilting including social and
economic changes as well as the need for human interaction. She also explains customs
and rituals associated with communal quilting and discusses friendship quilts, family
quilts, wedding quilts, mourning quilts, fundraising quilts, commemorative quilts, social
causes quilts, peace quilts, patriotic quilts, and quilts made simply for the fun of it.
Berlo, J. C. & Crews, P. C. (2003). Wild by design: Two hundred years of innovation and artistry
in American quilts. Lincoln, NE: International Quilt Study Center and University of Washington
Patricia Cox Crews outlines the three quilt collections used in the text (antique and
contemporary art quilts, African American quilts from Alabama, and Amish crib quilts)
while Janet Catherine Berlo discusses several themes relevant to the quilts. Berlo
contends that quilters have always used innovation in their quilts, even when following
traditional quilt patterns. When women first gathered to complete a quilt collectively in
the 19th century, they called these events “frolics,” rather than “bees.” She reviews the
history of quilts in the U.S., debunks the myth that quilts were made from reused fabric
scraps rather than new materials purchased specifically for quilts or pieces of new
dressmaking materials, and questions the use of quilts to portray “secret codes” for
escaping slaves. Berlo also describes innovation in applique, pictorial quilts as well as
pieced block-style quilts in the U.S.; reviews trends in Plains Native Nations quilts,
Hawaiian quilts, Amish quilts, African American quilts, the art quilt movement; and
acknowledges the current global influence on quilting through the availability of textiles,
texts, magazines, and the Internet. Over 50 applique and pieced quilts are illustrated,
described, and analyzed in the text.
Benberry, C. (1992). Always there: The African-American presence in American quilts.
Louisville, KY: The Kentucky Quilt Project.
The author seeks to document African Americans contributions to quilting since the late
18th century to the present since their contributions have seldom been published. She
documents examples of quilts made by slaves, by free African Americans during the
period of slavery, by quilters who sewed for a living, by family members with a quilting
tradition, and more contemporary quilters. Excellent pictures of 35 of the quilts are a
valuable aspect of the text.
Binney, E. (1984). Homage to Amanda: Two hundred years of American quilts from the
collection of Edwin Binney III & Gail Binney-Winslow. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press.
The author describes examples of 19th century quilts which he and his daughter collected
and categorizes them into different historical periods. Colored photographs of each quilt
help readers follow written descriptions. Binney credits English influence on early
quilting in the United States, explains a variety of techniques (such as stuffed work,
stencil work, and crewel work, Broderie Perse, applique, piecing), the meanings of
popular patterns during different eras, what fabrics were available, and illustrates
common characteristics of “fancy” Victorian quilts and the bold, plain-fabric patterns of
Amish and Mennonite quilts.
Brackman, B. (2000). Civil War women: Their quilts, their roles, activities for re-enactors.
Lafayette, CA: C & T Publishing.
The author describes different women and their roles during the Civil War and matches
each to a quilt she might have made. She provides patterns for making each quilt, such as
“Kansas Troubles,” “Free State Album,” “Seven Sisters,” and “Jeff Davis’s Daughter”
and suggests activities for Civil War women re-enactors, such as giving speeches, holding
quilting parties, and collecting signatures for an album quilt. Examples of women’s roles
include lecturers, freedwomen, newspaper correspondents, refugees, nurses, spies,
plantation owners, government clerks, and soldiers’ wives.
Cameron, D., Powell, R. J., Wallace, M., Hill, P., Gouma-Peterson, T., Roth, M.& Gibson, A.
(1998). Dancing at the Louvre: Faith Ringgold’s French collection and other story quilts.
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Beautiful photographs of Ringgold’s story quilts: “Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima?,” “The
Wedding,” Change: Faith Ringgold’s Over 100 Pounds Weight Loss Performance Story
Quilt,” “Tar Beach,” “Dancing at the Louvre,” “Wedding on the Seine,” “The Picnic at
Giverny,” “The Sunflowers Quilting Bee at Arles,” Matisse’s Model,” “Matisse’s
Chapel,” Picasso’s Studio,” “On the Beach at St. Tropec,” “Dinner at Gertrude Stein’s,”
“Jo Baker’s Birthday,” “Le Café des Artistes,” and “Moroccan Holiday” are included in
this resource. The text of some of the story quilts is also an important part of the book.
Cooper, P. & Allen, N. B. (1977). The quilters: Women and domestic art, an oral history. New
York: Anchor Press.
The authors focused on the relationship of quilting to the lives of the quilters. They
interviewed women quilters from Texas and New Mexico and photographed their quilts
to highlight their art as records of family and community history and their physical
Cross, M. B. (1993). Treasures in the trunk: Quilts of the Oregon Trail. Nashville, TN: Rutledge
The author studied 70 quilts women made before embarking on the journey on the
Oregon Trail (1840-1850), those made during the journey (1851-1855), and those made
after arriving in Oregon (1825-1915). Pictures and explanations are provided for each
quilt as well as a brief profile of the quilter. The author identified themes of nature,
movement, friendship, and celebration all related to the common overall theme of
migration in the quilts.
Cunningham, J. (2010). Men and the art of quiltmaking. Paducah, KY: American Quilter’s
The author profiled 30 male quilters, including himself, why they began quilting, the
meaning of quilting to them, and some of their quilts. Cunningham briefly reviews the
history of quilting in Europe and England, which included men, but quilting became an
all-women pursuit in the American colonies. The author began quilting in the 1970s
during the women’s equal rights movement. He credits two factors as drawing more men
into quilting: the longarm quilting machine and the Internet. He generalized that men
enjoy working with machines and can connect with other male quilters through the
Internet. While the men were influenced by traditional quilting processes and designs,
they often designed their own quilts, improvised on quilt patterns, and modified
traditional quilting processes. Several men acknowledged that they achieved some
notoriety simply because they were male quilters, and became quilters because they were
either artists or art educators.
England, K. (1994). Voices of the past: A history of women’s lives in patchwork. Carmel, IN:
Kaye England Publications.
The author provides brief profiles of 12 women whom she admires: First Ladies Martha
Washington, Dolly Madison, Helen Taft, and Frances Cleveland; abolitionist Harriet
Tubman; temperance leader Carry Nation; voyagers/pioneers Priscilla Alden, Amelia
Earhart, and Christa McAuliffe; Risk-taker Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg; and
business women Betsy Ross and Lucille Ball. In honor of each woman, the author designs
a quilt pattern and explains why the pattern fits the woman. The text contains directions
for making each pattern and beautiful photographs of completed quilts. The patterns are
primarily variations of different star patterns to illustrate the “star” qualities of each
England, K. (1998). Voices of the past: A history of women’s lives in patchwork volume II.
Carmel, IN: Kaye England Publications.
For the second volume, the author focuses on 12 different women, offering her
explanation for their admirable qualities and activities. She includes: First Ladies Abigail
Adams, Grace Coolidge, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; authors
Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott; social reformers Julia Ward Howe,
Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony; abolitionist Sojourner Truth; businesswoman
Madam C. J. Walker; and humanitarian Helen Keller. The author offers brief
explanations as to the meaning of the quilt pattern she designed to honor each woman as
well as directions for making each pattern and photographs of completed quilts. England
continues to design primarily star patterns to commemorate each woman, but also
includes an applique profile of Sojourner Truth in the “Ain’t I a Woman” pattern
Ferraro, P., Hedges, E. & Silber, J. (1987). Hearts and hands: The influence of women and quilts
on American society. San Francisco: Quilt Digest Press.
Text and many photographs focus on the important role played by women and quilts in
the nineteenth century's great movements and events, i.e., industrialization, the abolition
of slavery, the Civil War, European-Americans' movement west, temperance, and
suffrage. Explains the importance of sewing and quilts to women from birth through
Fox, S. (1990). Wrapped in glory: Figurative quilts and bedcovers, 1700 - 1900. Los Angeles:
Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Book gives background information on several well-known quilts from the nineteenth
century, including The Trade and Commerce Bedcover, The Charleston Battery Scene,
The Phoebe Cook Quilt, The Suffragette Quilt, and The Creation of the Animals Quilt
conceived and stitched by Harriet Powers, an African-American woman.
Freeman, R. L. (1996). A communion of the spirits: African-American quilters, preservers, and
their stories. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press.
The text documents the first national survey of African American quilters and portrays
the quilters the author met, their quilts, and their lives. Freeman first describes his
childhood experiences with quilts and integrates with his fieldwork of over 25 years. The
text portrays the universal presence of quilting among African Americans, the creativity
in patterns and techniques which challenge traditional views of African American
quilting, the different purposes of quilts (keeping one warm, documenting family or
cultural history, providing powers of healing or protection, serving as gifts, and
contributing to economic survival), and the involvement of African American men in
quilting. Many colored photographs make this text a rich written and visual history of
African American quilting.
Fry, G. M. (1990). Stitched from the soul: Slave quilts from the ante-bellum South. New York:
Dutton Studio Books.
The purpose of this book is to call attention to the contributions African-American
women made to textile production and crafts in the South. It describes and honors the
work of those slave women who quilted for their owners and for themselves. Many
photographs of preserved quilts are incorporated. Photographs of Harriet Powers and her
two well-known quilts are also included and described.
Granick, E. W. (1994). The Amish quilt. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.
In order to write the book, the author completed extensive research through interviews
and conversations with Amish families, observations of quilts in Amish homes, and
investigations of county courthouse records and public libraries. The text is richly
embellished with photographs of Amish quilts made at various times and in different
communities. She provides background information on the Amish church to provide a
context for Amish quilting, but also reviews changes in textiles, textile sources, and
variations in quilts among Amish communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa,
Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Canada. One of the most interesting chapters is devoted
to the place of quilting in Amish women’s lives, including the purposes of making quilts,
quilts made as individual or group activities, tools used, the place of conformity and
innovation in quilts, and overall trends in Amish quilting. Each Amish community
appears to have standards for patterns, colors, and forms. However, women who have a
well established place in the church and generally follow the rules of the community have
the freedom to experiment with quilting. The author also summarizes trends in Amish
quilting from pre-1870 to now. While early quilts (1870-1890) reveal simple, pieced
designs and intricate quilting patterns with many stitches; today Amish women are
making quilts for sale and use both traditional patterns and colors and “English” (non-Amish) contemporary styles.
Grudin, E. U. (1990). Stitching memories: African-American story quilts. Williamstown, MA:
The author emphasizes the importance of the tradition and history of quilting to African
Americans, even though this history has often been ignored. Specific quilts are
photographed and described, including the Log Cabin Quilt created by an unknown but
skilled quilter believed to be an African American woman seamstress, the Underground
Railroad quilt created and quilted by Oberlin senior citizens to honor Oberlin's
contributions to the Underground Railroad, the Afro-American Bicentennial Quilt to
commemorate African American history from 1492 to 1970, and Reprise, a celebration of
Hicks, K. E. (2003). Black threads: An African American quilting sourcebook. Jefferson, NC:
The author creates an extensive overview of African American quilting, including the
current number of African American quilters (one million in 2000), African American
quilters’ purchasing habits (an estimated $40-45 million spent in quilting fabrics per
year), and their years of quilting experiences, skill level, and quilt style preferences (one-third had six to 10 years of quilting experience, considered themselves intermediate
quilters, and preferred both traditional and contemporary quiltmaking styles). The author
also provides an exhaustive review of over 1700 print materials, such as books (both
adult and children’s), magazine and newspaper articles, and dissertations as well as the
100 American museums which hold more than 500 African American quilts in their
permanent collections. Finally, she develops an African American quilting history
timeline of significant events from 1800 to 2000, such as important historical quilts,
sewing inventions, quilting publications, awards to African American quilters, significant
museum exhibits, and popular culture events which influenced quilters.
Kort, E. (2001). Wisconsin quilts: Stories in the stitches. Charlottesville, VA: Howell Press.
The text is based on the Wisconsin Quilt History Project, which documented and
photographed 7000 quilts in the state from 1988 until 1996. Nearly all 100 quilts in the
text reflect European American heritage and were created between 1840-1940. The author
provides specific information on each quilt, but also sketches in background information
on state history and U.S. history as a context for the quilts. The quilts reflect quilters’
political views, patriotic sentiments, ethnic heritage, family history, available fabrics, and
popular quilt patterns. Some of the more interesting quilts include a Lone Star quilt made
from a Civil War soldier’s uniform, a Log Cabin quilt used to save a number of people
during the Peshtigo fire, an embroidered quilt created as a church fund-raising project, a
crazy quilt map of the United States, a Roman Stripe quilt fashioned from leftover pieces
of Ringling Brothers circus costumes, a Red Cross Autograph quilt created to raise funds
for the Red Cross during World War I, a Flags of the World quilt constructed from cotton
flannel cigar box advertising premiums, a Map of the World quilt produced for the
Chicago World’s Fair quilt contest, and a Friendship and Family Crazy quilt created by
four generations of one family for the same contest. Published quilt patterns, quilt kits,
and the Works Progress Administration quilt project also influenced quilting in
MacDowell, M. L. & Dewhurst, C. K. (Eds.). (1997). To honor and comfort: Native quilting
traditions. Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico.
The text evolved from Michigan State University Museum staff’s research on quilting
among Native Hawaiians and North American Indians beginning in the 19th and early 20th
centuries through today. Although quilting among Native people originated from their
contact with Europeans, Native quilting traditions have become uniquely integrated
among different Native nations. These traditions are usually passed on among family
members and may include traditional quilt patterns or transformed or unique patterns to
reflect Native culture and values. Quilting traditions among the Lakota, Assiniboine,
Waccamaw-Siouian, Yupiks, Hopi, Mohawk, and Native Hawaiians are illustrated with
photographs of many beautiful quilts. The editors were also careful to include interviews
and photographs of quilters to properly acknowledge the Native textile artists who create
such striking art.
Mori, J. (1993). Quilting patterns from Native American designs. Paducah, KY: American
The author provides patterns for quilting from diverse art forms from different Native
American tribes in the U.S. The tribes are divided into seven geographic/cultural regions
of the United States who share commonalities based on their location, including:
northeast woodland, Southeast woodland, plains, plateau, northwest coast,
California/great basin, and southwest. The patterns, ready to be traced for quilting
projects, were taken from native people's beadwork, ribbonwork, basketry, weaving,
pottery, stonework, birchbark, and jewelry. The author also provides suggestions for
transferring the quilting designs from the text to fabric.
Pellman, R. & Pellman, K. (1984). The world of Amish quilts. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.
The text provides photographs of many antique Amish quilts made in the mid-19th
century to early 20th century depicting many different quilt patterns and distinguishing
characteristics of Pennsylvania and Midwest Amish quilts. The authors provide
background information on the origins, basic beliefs and values, lifestyle, and the place of
quilting within the Amish cultural context. Prevalent characteristics of Amish quilts
include the use of solid color fabrics, patterns which are abstract rather than realistic
images of objects (with exceptions), elaborate hand quilting, and creative use of color.
Perry, R. A. (1994). Harriet Powers's Bible quilts. New York: Rizzoli.
Containing large photographs of the complete quilts and individual scenes, this text
provides a comprehensive explanation of how Harriet Powers came to create her Bible
quilts and their connection to similar tapestry designs from the People's Republic of
Benin. The author develops reasonable speculations as to how Powers developed the
knowledge portrayed in her quilts as well as their intended purposes.
Pershing, L. (1995). Sew to speak: The fabric art of Mary Milne. Jackson, MS: University Press
The author provides a portrayal of Mary Milne and the fabric art she created to make
political statements when she found it difficult to speak in public and organize. Mary took
a leadership role in making many fabric panels for "The Ribbon" project in the early
1980s which protested the nuclear arms race and resulted in 20,000 people holding 15
miles of ribbon panels wrapped around the Pentagon, the Capitol, and the Lincoln and
Washington Memorials. Through fabric art, Mary believed she found her voice. Many
photographs of Mary's fabric art are included in the text.
Pulford, F. (1989). Morning star quilts. Los Altos, CA: Leone.
The author talked with Native quilters from several plains nations, including Cree, Sioux,
Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Standing Rock, and Hunkpapa
Sioux, in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. The book is embellished with color
photographs of the women and their beautiful star quilts. The author explains the
significance of the morning star symbol among plains nations, how quilting became
integrated within Native American plains cultures, the various uses of star quilts, the
importance of colors in quilts, and the meanings of star pattern variations and other
symbols used in quilts.
Ruskin, C. (1988). The quilt: Stories from the NAMES project. New York: Pocket Books.
This text tells how The Quilt got started in 1987 as a national effort to create a hand-sewn
tribute to the tens of thousands of Americans stricken down by AIDS. Photographs of
many of the panels are included as well as letters and stories about those who were
honored with quilt panels and the quilters.
Simms, A. (1993). Creating scrapbook quilts. Flint, MI: Mallery Press.
The author explains the mechanics of creating unique, original quilts from photographs;
flat objects such as original drawings, newspaper and magazine clippings; and
embellishments such as charms, patches, buttons, coins, medals, and earrings. She also
provides examples of such quilts and resources for transferring images to fabric. The
authors' suggestions for what may be included in such quilts stimulate many additional
possibilities for original quilts.
Tobin, J. L. & Dobard, R. G. (1999). Hidden in plain view: A secret story of quilts and the
underground railroad. New York: Doubleday.
Jacqueline Tobin interviewed African American quilter Ozella McDaniel Williams and
discovered a story about quilts and the Underground Railroad which was passed down in
Williams’ family. The story is a code about the Underground Railroad with quilt patterns
indicating important directions for slaves to follow in escaping to Canada: “The monkey
wrench turns the wagon wheel toward Canada on a bear’s paw trail to the crossroads.
Once they got to the crossroads they dug a log cabin on the ground. Shoofly told them to
dress up in cotton and satin bow ties and go to the cathedral church, get married and
exchange double wedding rings. Flying geese stay on the drunkard’s path and follow
the stars.” The authors analyze the meaning of each quilt pattern in order to construct a
more embellished code.
Waldnogel, M. (1990). Soft covers for hard times: Quiltmaking and the Great Depression.
Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press.
Reusing cotton sacks from flour and feed in quilts is explained in this book. This practice
was necessary especially during war times and the Great Depression. A large photograph
of the Flour Sack Trademark Quilt is included.
Zimmerman, B. (2004). My paper memory quilt: A family history pack. San Francisco: Chronicle
The author encourages readers to record various events in quilt squares, including family
history and stories; one’s deepest hopes and dreams; memories of fun and laughter; times
of sadness, grief, and loss; family traditions, holidays, and foods; and illustrate such
artistic skills as applique and embroidery. The book also contains 24 panels which can be
used to create one’s own paper memory quilt. Suggestions for classroom quilting projects
are also given.
Adult Resources: Book Chapters And Journal Articles
Chertok, B., Hirshfeld, G. & Rosh, M. (2001, March). Grandma Moses. Scholastic Instructor,
The authors provide a poster of Grandma Moses’ painting “The Quilting Bee.” They
suggest questions to guide students in learning more about quilting bees as they study the
painting. A follow-up quilting activity, including a quilting bee, is described.
Clark, R. & Heller, C. E. (1993). Quilt connections: Traditional craft unites diverse classrooms.
Teaching Tolerance, 2(1), 38-45.
This article describes two teachers' efforts to help their elementary students learn history,
build intergenerational relationships, and develop bonds with children from different
backgrounds through the craft of quilting. It also includes the quilting project of the
Mississippi Cultural Crossroads in having both White and Black students quilt together
led by older African-American women quilters. Resources for other quilting projects are
Cowan, M. M. (1991). Patchwork art. Cobblestone, 12(8), 20-21.
The author explains the scarcity of cloth and the need for warm bedcovers as motivations
for creating quilts out of scraps of cloth. She also described different purposes of quilt
patterns, including recording stories and family histories, symbolizing daily lives, and
honoring people or commemorating events. The reader is invited to match names of quilt
patterns with sketches of these patterns.
Ericksen, D. & Williams, N. (1996). Sewing together the curriculum: A thematic unit launched
from reading children's books about quilting. Michigan Reading Journal, 29(2), 31-34.
The article focuses on how educators can integrate quilts within the curriculum. They
suggest introducing quilting through real quilts as well as through reading aloud several
children's books dealing with quilts. The study of cotton and its history linked to slavery
should also be included since this fabric was so important in quilting. Studying the role of
quilting among different cultures and the histories of people and eras contained within
quilts may become part of the quilt curriculum. Finally, they provide directions for the
creation of either a simple paper quilt or a more complicated fabric quilt as a class
Grund, C. A. (2001). Stitches in time. Cobblestone, 22(8), 4-7.
The article discusses the significance of quilting, spinning, and weaving during Colonial
times. During this period most women had to spin thread and weave their own cloth
before they could quilt. Women quilted clothing, such as jackets, vests, petticoats, and
bonnets during this era as well as “whole cloth” quilts. These quilts were made from
several large pieces of the same fabric sewn together, then quilted. Quilting was usually
done within families.
Helm, J., Huebner, A. & Long, B. (2000). Quiltmaking: A perfect project for preschool and
primary. Young Children, 55(3), 44-49.
The authors suggest how quilts may be integrated within the preschool and primary
curriculum, offers songs and fingerplays related to quilts, and describes a classroom
quilting project to connect children and teachers with families. After reading books about
quilts and sharing family quilts, teachers, students, and family members may make a
banner quilt, a tie-dye quilt, a velcro quilt, a print quilt, or a paper quilt. The authors
recommend quilt picture books, how-to books, and websites.
Kepner, T. (1990). Quilt-making as a window on the world. Journal of Geography, 89(4), 161-164.
The author describes an interesting project of collecting fabrics and drawings on fabrics
from people in 29 different countries and then creating a quilt from these fabric squares.
As they received the quilt blocks from each country, the class learned more about each
country--including the physical environment, climate, animals as well as people's
activities, foods, families, and perspectives. The quilt became the class geography text.
Kinney, J. & Kinney, C. (1972). From generations of women: Bedcovers and rugs of every
description. In J. Kinney & C. Kinney, 21 kinds of American folk art and how to make each one.
New York: Atheneum.
Quilts descended from covers made from animal skins to those made from woven
grasses, furs, or feathers to those made from spun wool. The authors believe quilts began
to be made between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars to keep families warm and
decorate bedrooms. The authors describe the importance and typical activities of quilting
bees as social occasions.
McCall, A.L. (1994). Including quilters' voices in the social studies curriculum. Social Studies
and the Young Learner, 7(1), 10-14.
This article briefly explains the significance of quilting in the lives of EuroAmerican and
African American women in U.S. history. It also elaborates on different portrayals of
history women created with quilts and closes with suggestions for using quilts to teach
McCall, A. L. (2002). Quilting across cultures: Teaching about Native American, European
American, and African American experiences in the United States. Social Studies and the Young
Learner, 15(2), 20-25.
The article reviews the origins of quilting within European American, African American,
and Native American cultures and economic influences on quilting, including the
quilters’ economic status as well as the national economy. However, quilters from
different cultures depict their lifestyles, cultural values, beliefs, and perspectives in their
quilts. In addition to reviewing the history of quilting among European Americans,
African Americans, and Native Americans, the article also suggests teaching resources.
Nevinskas, N. (1991). American folk art in the classroom. School Arts, 90(6), 24-27.
The author classifies quilting as a folk art and encourages educators to integrate quilts in
early childhood art programs. After giving a brief history of the origins of quilting, the
author suggests using quilts to explore design elements (shape, color, pattern, and size).
Directions are also given for making a quilt collage out of wallpaper, foil papers, or cloth.
Rhoades, J. (1993, April). Quilting as an art form. Teaching K-8, 66-67.
This article reviews the significance of quilts as family history records and the
construction of a quilt as a "cloth sandwich" made from a patterned top or face, a filler
made from cotton or wool batting, and a back made from plain fabric. As a way of
teaching students about quilts, the author suggests using children's books which focus on
quilts, making a quilt for sick children as part of the ABC Project, or making a story quilt
similar to Faith Ringgold's work.
Roe, M. W. (1983). Sewing up a story. Cobblestone, 4(7), 27-29.
This article provides a brief background on quiltmaking during pioneer times and
explains how to make a "Monkey Wrench" block as well as a complete quilt using the
"Monkey Wrench" pattern.
Rourke, L. D. (1987). Amish quilt patterns. Cobblestone, 8(11), 12-13.
Amish quilts usually contain contrasting colors and geometric shapes because Amish
culture does not permit the depiction of flowers, animals, or people in quilts. Amish quilt
patterns must be very abstract representations of everyday objects, chores, or farm scenes.
Several Amish quilt patterns are pictured and an activity on completing the quilt pattern is
Adult Resources: Music
Schmidt, C. & Rogers, S. Tree of Life. On While we Live [Compact Disc].
"Tree of Life" names different quilt patterns and the importance of quilting in the lives of
Sweet Honey in the Rock. (1992). Patchwork Quilt. On In this Land [Cassette Recording].
Redway, CA: Earthbeat.
Available from EarthBeat! Records, PO Box 1460, Redway, CA 95560. "Patchwork
Quilt," honors those whose lives have been touched by AIDS and are remembered in the
Adult Resources: Curriculum Guides
Burchberg, W. (1996). Quilting activities across the curriculum: A thematic unit filled with
activities linked to math, language arts, social studies, and science. New York: Scholastic.
The author provides descriptions of activities to help children learn about the different
types of quilting patterns, the different kinds of quilts, and how quilts can teach family
and community history. An excellent guide for studying a quilt through observing the
fabrics, quilt design, stitches, overall condition, and age is also given. Practical
suggestions for making different types of class quilts as well as a list of children's
literature, teacher resources, computer software, and audiovisual resources dealing with
quilting are included within the curriculum guide. A colorful poster depicting different
quilt patterns comes with the curriculum unit.
Cigrand, M. & Howard, B. (2000). Easy literature-based quilts around the year. New York:
The authors suggest children’s literature for students to read each month of the school
year, September through June, and responses to the texts through writing and quilting.
The patterns and directions for constructing each paper quilt design are clearly explained.
Additional books which may be read each month are also listed. Teachers may need to
use some of the recommendations cautiously. Books about Native people should not be
limited to the month of November and teachers should critically review all books before
using with children. One of the recommended books Knots on a Counting Rope has been
severely criticized by the authors of Through Indian Eyes: The Native Experience in
Books for Children. The use of books dealing with Christmas and other holidays should
be broadened to focus on main themes or ideas rather than specific holidays.
Riley, J. (1991). The literature of quilts: A resource guide. Available from Her Own Words, Box
5264, Madison, Wisconsin 53705.
This resource guide is designed for use by both general readers and classroom teachers in
learning about quilting through literature. It concentrates on American quilts, quiltmakers,
and writers and provides background knowledge on quilting. The excerpt from the short
story Aunt Jane's Album is especially descriptive of the importance of quilting in women's
Ruthsdotter, M. (n.d.). Quiltmaking: A traditional woman's art form. Available from National
Women's History Project, 7738 Bell Road, Windsor, California 95492.
This curriculum guide includes background on the development of quilting, examples of
twelve different block samples, and directions for making a quilt with students from
lower elementary and upper elementary levels.
Schniedewind, N. & Davidson, E. (1987). Blessed are the quilters, for they are the piecemakers.
In Cooperative learning, cooperative lives: A sourcebook of learning activities for building a
peaceful world. Dubuque, IA: William C. Brown.
A lesson plan for learning about the history of quilting in the United States as well as
cooperating to make a class quilt.
Termin, S. (1997). To honor and comfort: Native American quilting traditions. Available from
The National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Education Department,
One Bowling Green, New York, NY 10024.
This curriculum accompanies the exhibition To honor and comfort: Native American
quilting traditions located at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
It includes four lesson plans dealing with: (1) how quilting was introduced to Native
societies; (2) how quilts are used in Native ceremonies to honor individuals and
communities; (3) how traditional and contemporary Native designs are incorporated in
quilts; and (4) how quilts and quilting activities strengthen and unite Native communities.
Lesson plans include background information for educators, questions to help educators
and students study materials from a Native point of view, portrayals of eight Native
quilters, references for further study, and classroom activities. Colored photographs of
eight quilts from the exhibition are also included for study.
Ferraro, P. (Producer and Director). (1988). Hearts and hands: The influence of women & quilts
on American society [Videocassette]. (Available from Hearts and Hands Media Arts, 371 29th
Street, San Francisco, CA 94131)
This 60-minute video reviews significant events of the 19th century and the connections to
women’s quilts and textiles. Women’s involvement in quilting and textile production was
depicted beginning with their work in mills during the early 19th century to the use of
quilts to attract women to the temperance movement and the encouragement to “put down
your needles and march” during the suffrage movement of the late 19th century. Women
made quilts to document their views of the Civil War, the abolition of slavery, European
Americans’ westward migration, women’s suffrage, and temperance. Quilts made by
African American slave women for their owners and themselves were portrayed as well
as quilting as a means of gaining freedom.
Quilt Social Action/Social Responsibility Projects
Hearts and Hands Across the Americas: An International Educational Children’s Art and
Quilt Peace Project. The project, begun in 1997, allows children in the United States to learn
about themselves while understanding children in different parts of the world. Children create
portraits of themselves and their families on quilt pieces, which are then sewn into a quilt. The
finished quilts are given to orphaned children in different parts of the world. The project allows
U.S. children to address in a small way the problem of children without families and warm
bedding around the world. For more information on the project, contact: Hearts and Hands
Across the Americas, 136 Miletich Lane, Port Angeles, Washington 98362, (360) 417-0217,
Web Sites For Additional Children And Young Adult Books About Quilts
Quilts, Quilters, Quilting, and Patchwork in Fiction: A Bibliography Maintained by Betty
Reynolds. Begun in 1995, the web site continues to expand to include fiction and poetry for
children and young adults dealing with quilts, quilters, and quilting. Suggestions for book titles
and annotations are welcome. The web site is sponsored by Amazon.com and book reviews on a
number of the quilt books are available on Amazon.com. The web site is available at:
Annotated bibliography list