March Madness

March Madness is what American college basketball fans call this time of year. I am not a basketball fan (that squeaking sound the shoes make drives me nuts) but I agree that this time of year is madness – at least for me. Work is busy. Fortunately, the quilt world does a terrific job of offering up diversions just when I need them to keep me sane. Last year, the red and white show in New York was such a treat. This year, in conjunction with the AQS quilt show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Heritage Center of Lancaster County is showing 80+ Amish quilts in a magnificent display of color and form in quilts.

This collection of Lancaster County Amish quilts was culled from the larger collection of quilts known as the “Esprit Collection.” Thanks to generous donors, they will reside in perpetuity in Lancaster, PA. Last Tuesday, I went for the opening of the exhibit which included a reception and dinner and the added treat of a keynote talk by Julie Silber, Curator of the Esprit Collection. It was fun to hear the history of how the collection came to be and how these quilts made their way back to their county of origin. The Heritage Center of Lancaster County is raising money so they are able to display the quilts and not just store them safely out of sight.

There were two wonderful books available for purchase. The smaller book with the white background titled “Amish Quilts of Lancaster County” (40 pages) is the catalog for the 1990 exhibition Amish: The Art of the Quilt at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco. The other book, also titled “Amish Quilts of Lancaster County” by Patricia T. Herr (Schiffer, 2004, 192 pages) provides more photos, including many detail pictures, of the Lancaster quilts from the Esprit Collection. If you purchase both books at the exhibit they are $40.

My personal favorites are the double nine patch quilts. Here you get an idea of how much detail is available in Dr. Herr’s book. There are even photographs of the back. Excuse the glare.

Here’s another page of Dr. Herr’s book. You can see how wonderfully the color of the quilts is reproduced and the solid looking photo is the quilt back. You can’t tell here, but the quilting shows up quite well.

This is a photo of the interior of the exhibition catalog. The quilt is another favorite of mine. I love those flying geese and the funky colors.

These are some quilting stencils and templates.

I have to confess that I’ve been to quilt shows in Lancaster many times but never once visited one of those legendary “Lancaster” fabric shops. This time, I broke that streak and went to Burkholder’s Fabrics. I was thrilled with their collection of Kona cottons and Moda Bella fabrics. I am looking for a solid to use as the background for my hand pieced stars. I’ve mentioned before that my sewing space is in my laundry room so please ignore that stray sock that is slithering into the photo. I can’t decide between the darker background which makes the lighter stars pop out or the lighter background which lets the darker stars shine.

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  1. The book looks like one for my bookshelf too.

    Love both the fabrics and as for the stray sock I always wondgred w(ere the other's went to when I ended up with odd sock's . Another planet I think.

  2. I wish I could see an exhibit of Amish quilts. The book looks like a must have. Sometimes it's hard deciding on backgrounds, I love both but then I think it's the stars that will shine in either choice.

  3. LOVE those stars…I would be leaning toward the darker solid. How great that you got to see part of the Esprit Collection! I've always been drawn to Amish quilts…those saturated solids, all the pent-up emotion smoldering under the surface, the beautiful hand quilting designs used on them. Those are really nice stencil patterns (especially the horse and the pomegranite). Thanks for sharing!

    In stitches,
    Teresa :o)

  4. I love the Amish quilts! Thanks for sharing some with us. I want that book – I'll have to put it on my wish list. I vote for the darker background – but they both look great.

  5. I'm glad to see you posted the two choices for the background. I am working on another lemoyne star quilt myself and was considering the same thing. It seems the darker was the most popular. I decided to use muslin for the background of the stars in the center of the quilt. Set the blocks on point and the outer round of stars would use the darker background as well as the setting triangles. Maybe that would look to contemporary. not sure yet, cause I haven't "finished" any stars yet.
    And yes, isn't Lancaster great?

  6. Both backgrounds are great but I think the lighter one really showcases your stars.

    Don't ya just love Lancaster? My fave quilt shop there is Zooks.

  7. I am sorry I missed the show.
    I like the darker background.have you decided?
    I hope you spent some time in the sewing room this weekend, I think you needed it!
    love the stencils I would love to collect them. thanks for the book suggestions, I own one, need to find the other!

  8. Thanks so much for the grand tour of the show. I couldn't make it, but it looks like you had a wonderful time. I would have liked to heard Julie speak.

  9. I had hoped to make it to Lancaster, but it just did not work for me this year. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    I like the darker of the two backgrounds.

  10. Wonderful post! I NEED to get to Lancaster one of these days! It's killing me that I've never been! Argh! And I, too, like both of the background fabrics for your stars. It's a tough choice, but either would look fabulous! I guess it's time to flip a coin! lol

  11. I like the darker background. It even makes all the stars pop, and seems to keep with the civil war fabric style. Thanks for the pictures of the Amish quilts!

  12. Oh! and I forgot to mention, I prefer the darker background for your star blocks!!! Silly me, I just got so caught up with those Amish beauties, you see what they do to me LOL!!!!!

  13. Reading this post took me back to Melbourne 1997 when I saw an exhibition of those quilts and while I was there I purchased the copy of the book 'Amish Quilts of Lancaster County'. At that time the exhibition was called 'Lit From Within', I have often thumbed through those pages since and feel very privileged to have seen them up close!
    I have actually made one of the quilts in that book, but it has remained a flimsy, I always dreamed of handquilting it, hmmmmm, maybe one day! It's good to know there are plans for these magnificant quilts to remain display for all to enjoy, I was totally mesmerised by them, they have been my quilting inspiration from the get go!!!

  14. Thanks for sharing the Amish Quilts and the books. Showing the back of the quilts is right up my alley. I also love the pic that showed the quilting stencils, wouldn't it be wonderful to come across some of those at a flea market. I like the lighter fabric as the background but the darker one could work also.

  15. You are such a great resource for excellent books… another that NEEDS to come live with me!
    Lovely Amish quilts, I love to see the quilting designs, but wouldn't I love to get my hands on those stencils!
    About the backgrounds – I personally like the lighter of the two.

  16. They show the back so you can see the quilting!? I think I need that book! I love your little stars – they are beautiful on both backgrounds.

  17. Like the others that commented, I can't decided which background I like better. The darker background makes the beiges stand out but the quilting would show up better on the lighter background. Good luck deciding – hard decision.

  18. The book looks like one for my book shelf too.

    Like both the fabrics for your stars and as for the odd sock I always wondered where the other odd ones went too. Another planet I fear.

  19. I like both backgrounds so I see your dilemma!

    I'll have to put those books on my wish list – Third Daughter lives in PA so maybe I'll suggest them for Mother's Day. I loved seeing you photos. I have to add – your picture of stencils and templates – I thought that was an applique quilt on a gray background!

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