Book Review: Prize Country Quilts

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Prize Country Quilts

Author: Mary Elizabeth Johnson (Huff)

Date: 1977

Publisher: Oxmoor House

ISBN: 0-8487-0444-4

Length: 230 pages including index

Illustrations: many full-color photos

Quote: “The people who entered Progressive Farmer magazine’s ‘Joys of Country Living’ Heritage Quilt Block Contest provided…this book of brand-new quilt designs.”

That’s what makes this quilting book special. Some designs are traditional, symmetrical, geometric arrangements, like “Stars and Stirrups” (eight-pointed stars interspersed with half-rings” or “Proud Pine” (yet another stylized tree shape for your collection). Some, like “East Tennessee Farm” and “Our Heritage the Church,” portray landscapes. Then there are a few new, ambitious flower designs; “Jack in the Pulpit” mimics the plant’s asymmetrically curved shapes, and “Summer Leaves” seem traced from real oak leaves.

Some of the designs call for specific colors that would have been hard to find in 1877. “Abundance” relies for its effect on fabrics dyed in the colors of real, fresh vegetables, which are not achievable with vegetable dyes and were neither cheap nor abundant in the nineteenth century. Other designs, like “Lindbergh’s Night Flight” and “Bicentennial,” obviously refer to events of the twentieth century.

Other designs, like “Starflower,” “Wildflower,” and “Sunshine and Stained Glass,” are such natural variations on the (approximately 500) canonical Traditional Quilt Patterns that only people who are familiar with the traditional patterns would notice that these are new variations.

Templates allow every reader to reproduce each pattern, and each pattern is introduced with a few remarks by its designer.

Prize Country Quilts is a pattern book with minimal narrative. If you just want to read about other people’s quilts, this is not the book for you. If you’d rather spend your time planning, cutting, and stitching than reading, you will love Prize Country Quilts.

Mary Elizabeth Johnson, later Mary Elizabeth Johnson Huff, does not seem to be active in cyberspace; Google found two online articles by her, the latest one from 2003. However, in the absence of conflicting evidence, we’ll assume that she’s retired. If you buy this book from this site, by sending $5 per book + $5 per package to either address at the lower left side of the screen, we’ll send $1 per book to Mary Elizabeth Johnson Huff or a charity of her choice.

Just for a change from the cat image, here’s a Morguefile quilt image…