When you think of Amish quilting patterns, "bold" and "geometric" may be the words that come to mind. These beautiful quilts can be seen on nearly any clothesline in western Pennsylvania and other areas of the country with large Amish populations. Yet, pieced quilts were not made by the Amish until after 1870 because they were considered too worldly.
Amish Quilts Evolve
The first Amish quilts were made in a solid color, normally blue, brown, black, or rust. The fabrics were not patterned, but the quilting was often very decorative. Typical stitching patterns were curves, feathers, and grids. Over time, quilters eventually added olive green, dark red, and pumpkin to the original basic colors. The colors were always deep, rich, and without a pattern on the fabric but the way that they were pieced created the striking designs that are so easily recognizable today.
Until the 1940s, the quilts were generally made from wool. During World War II, the Amish were forced to use synthetic materials. When the war was over, they began to use cotton fabrics in their quilt designs.
The patterns continued to become more intricate adding well known patterns like:
- Nine Patch
- Around the World
- Sunshine and Shadow
- Baby Blocks
- Star of Bethlehem
- Tree of Life
- Dresden Plate
Galleries of Amish Quilting Patterns
Reading about the patterns and actually seeing them are two different things. The links below will take you to online galleries where the gorgeous colors and patterns of Amish quilts can be appreciated.
- The Branch Hill Joinery features a collection of quilts that make for great inspiration.
- PBase has a large collection of Amish Quilts. Just click the thumbnail pictures to enlarge them.
- Rocky Mountain Quilts has many authentic Amish and Mennonite quilts for sale. The images are fantastic.
- The Illinois State Museum has many Amish quilt images.
Choosing Colors for Amish Quilts
The dominant color in an Amish quilt is often black. Other rich colors are used against this background to create the vibrant graphics that the Amish quilting patterns are renowned for. Try to keep your quilt simple, using no more than three or four colors of solid fabric for the most dramatic effect.Colors to choose from are:
- Dark blue
- Deep green
- Rich yellow
- Olive green
- Cobalt blue
Free Amish Patterns
If you have decided to create your own Amish style quilt and need a pattern, there are many available on the Internet. Keep in mind that the patterns are secondary to the colors that are traditional in Amish quilts. Almost any pattern quilt can be Amish style by utilizing the deep colors that they do.
Hand Quilting Tips
One of the final steps to making an Amish quilt is the hand quilting. This is done by using a stencil to draw the stitch design on the quilt, or by sending it to be quilted. There are Amish cottage industries that specialize in hand finishing your pieced quilt top. The intricate designs are stitched with approximately 10 stitches to the inch. For more information about having your quilt hand finished, as well as tips on Amish quilting, visit Amish Hand Quilting. Some more tips:
- If you plan to do it yourself, Patchwork Passion has several images of stitch designs that you can get inspiration from.
- Generations Quilt Patterns has a machine quilting tutorial for first time quilters.
- Dummies.com has a quilting cheat sheet to help you plan and make your quilt.
Your Own Piece of Quilting History
Amish quilting patterns are a beautiful and historic art form. Making these quilts is a satisfying way to express your creativity as well as connect with history.