Book Review: American Patchwork Quilts

Title: American Patchwork Quilts

Author: Lenice Ingram Bacon

Date: 1973

Publisher: Bonanza / Crown / Morrow

ISBN: 0-517-30940-8

Length: 190 pages

Illustrations: many full-page photos

Quote: “In that section of Tennessee where I grew up in the early part of the twentieth century, quilts still served…We had a goodly supply for ‘everyday wear,’ but they were not made at home. They were made by the Witt sisters.”

Lenice Ingram Bacon has collected stories of individual quilts and quilters to flesh out, and sometimes debunk, familiar stereotypes. I could wish she’d debunked the stereotype of “the areas of Appalachia”—a fine and scenic town, but too small to occupy many “areas.” However, Bacon was concentrating on quilts rather than general history, and her book is full of interesting anecdotes about European as well as American textiles.

Both typical and unusual quilts have been documented in this book. There’s a lovely, patchwork-appliqued, finely stitched “Pineapple Quilt” made in China, by order of a rich American, in 1791; an unfinished “crazy quilt” looking crazy indeed after a hundred years of wear and tear; a bizarre applique piece in which the figures represent scenes from history and the Bible, but few could be recognized without a page of written explanations, which was fortunately preserved in the same museum.

Anecdotes from quilting history make this book an entertaining read, and large, colorful photos make it an inspiring collection for quilters who feel confident enough to make their own templates. So it can be recommended to anyone interested in quilts.

Lenice Ingram Bacon is remembered in the Quilters’ Hall of Fame ( Since she is no longer living, American Patchwork Quilts is not a Fair Trade Book. You may still buy it online here for $5 per book + $5 per package, payable to either of the addresses in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.

Quilt graphic courtesy of Morguefile:


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