Monday, February 9, 2015

The Ruth Quilt - The Jean Quilt

47" wide x 40" high

In 2013 our Minnesota quilt study group had chosen 'Words or Letters on Quilts' as the topic of one of our quarterly meetings. We  wanted to focus on examples where they are a primary design element as opposed to such things as signature and friendship quilts which we had studied previously.
It was also our chosen 'challenge' that year. Anyone interested in trying techniques or styles we've studied does so and then shares their piece and what they learned through the process at the last meeting of the year.
I like doing the challenges and had been thinking about a few options for my project when this quilt was shown during Show and Tell at the AQSG seminar that fall in New Jersey.

47" wide by 40" high

This close up reveals interesting construction.The white squares and rectangles are hand appliqued to the red background, not pieced! It is knotted/tied with multi-strand cotton thread. The front is brought to the back and hand hemmed

I knew right away that I was going to make my own version for my study piece. When inspired by a vintage quilt I usually personalize it by making a few changes rather than 'copy' it. In this case, of course, I used my own name and as I usually do, I scaled down the size. I chose to do it in blue and cream. I contacted the owner and she generously measured all the dimensions and gave me permission to make and share my version.**

I worked on graph paper following old embroidery cross-stitch charts. I'm guessing that form of needlework was the inspiration for the early quilts with pieced letters.

For practice I made two pot holders for my friend, Gail Bakkom.

vintage example

Even though my name also has four letters, the cross-
stitch "N" takes up more space than the others. I tried various ways to narrow it and but it just didn't work.

Studying old quilts with the pieced alphabet I saw the wide N's W's and M's and decided just to do it that way.

So here's my project....a bit late, yes. But it's done!

21" wide by 19" high

 squares measure 1/2"

Here's a current pattern based on a vintage quilt with pieced alphabet border called  A-is-for-Apple available at the National Quilt Museum shop

Quilts with words and/or letters can be a fascinating topic of study. Some are cross-stitch style lettering as are mine and RUTH's. Many are appliqued.
 Here are a few more:

Bible Verses

Is this MOM? Or turn it upside-down...

Made by Gail Bakkom for our challenge

**Thanks to Carolyn Maruggi for permission to share RUTH quilt photos


  1. Great projects. I think the test pot holders are great, and you have a gift! I've never done a word quilt. Very clever using Applique instead of piecing, nice discovery.

    1. applique of squares on the original. I did not do that for the ones I madebut was fascinated by the innovation of getting it to look the way you want it to look someway, somehow. We are so used to rotary cutting strips and assembling them ie. Seminole patchwork or bargello....Now I'll want to examine any "old' pieced letter examples to see how most were done. That may be a good question to toss out to AQSG collectors - dig out that vintage quilt with pieced letters and take a closer look at technique. Many older Irish Chain quilts also applique that corner in the plain block as opposed to today's more common directions which result in a seam in that plain block.


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