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:


Book Review: New Discoveries in American Quilts

Title: New Discoveries in American Quilts

Author: Robert Bishop

Date: 1975

Publisher: E.P. Dutton & Company

ISBN: 0-525-16552-5

Length: 127 pages

Illustrations: most pages contain color photos

Quote: “The reason for this…book…is simply to document as many as possible of the beautiful quilts that have been brought to my attention since 1972.”

Bloggers who enjoy “Wordless Wednesday” posts should enjoy New Discoveries in American Quilts. Most of the words in this book are captions, credits, and historical information about the textiles photographed.

Not all of them are traditional pieced quilts; there are also quilted “bed rugs,” single pieces of fabric joined with stuffing and quilt-stitching, and there are some modern pieces quilt-stitched around printed designs. Most are shown in full color, and the colors aren’t as faded as you might expect, given the age of some of the pieces. These quilts were not worn out in everyday use. They were designed and preserved as works of art. They were selected, photographed, and published by an art historian because they’re beautiful enough to compare with works of “fine art.”

As a book of “glorious inspirations” for textile crafters and collectors of all sorts, this book is recommended. Raw beginners may want to invest in a quilt book with detailed instructions and templates. Experienced quilters (and other crafters) can use this book for inspiration.

Several writers were known as Robert Bishop; apparently the art historian who wrote this book died in 1991, so New Discoveries in American Quilts is not a Fair Trade Book. The minimum price to buy it online here is $5 per book + $5 per package, payable to either address at the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Two copies of this book would fit into one package for a total of $15. Alternatively, you could fit in one or two Fair Trade Books, and I’d send $1 per book to an author who is currently alive.

Here is a quilt image from Jjulian812 at Morguefile, :