Antique Caroline Lily Quilt Antique Caroline Lily Quilt Courtesy of Julie Silber

Antique Quilts

Generally, Antique Quilts are Quilts that are more than 100 years old. Old quilts rarely are dated so identifying when a quilt was made is an educated skill that comes from years of reseach and study. The piecing, by hand or machine, quilt pattern, weave and color of the fabric as well as the batting are taken into consideration when identifying the age of a quilt.  Quilts made from the 1920's-1950 are considered "vintage" quilts.

Benefits of Antique Quilts

  • Today's quilters can find inspiration from Antique Quilts for colors and quilting designs.
  • Many patterns from  Antique Quilts are still in use today, even complex designs like Feathered Stars and Mariner's Compass blocks.
  • Antique Quilts also help to connect today's quilters to the quiltmakers of the past, most of whom were women. Unfortunately, most Antique Quilts are unsigned and rarely dated so the story of most Antique Quilts and their makers remains a mystery today.

Supplies and Tools Antique Quilts

  • Many of today's quilters like to replicate Antique Quilts, often as closely as possible to the original. Over the past 30 years, fabric manufacturers have reproduced many antique fabric designs for current-day use.
  • Photographs from museums and collectors and Antique Quilt dealers often are used to inspire today's quiltmakers.
  • Some museums have published patterns of their best quilts for use today.
  • Many reference books are available to help identity the dates of both fabrics and quilt patterns. Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and Dating Fabrics A Color Guide, vols 1 and 2  by Eileen Jahnke Trestain are just a few of the best resources available for the interested quilter.
  • Make and Use Quilt Lables!  Ensure future generations of quilters know who made your quilt, who quilted it, when and where it was made.  You might even include what inspired the quilt.
What I Wished I Knew When I Started Antique Quilts

Being inspired by ANTIQUE QUILTS and their makers from more than 100 years ago is a tribute to the longevity of Quilting. There is a tremendous amount of reference material on Antique Quilts. For those interested in the art of Antique Quilts and quiltmaking ancestors, the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) is a large organization which specializes in the serious study of Antique Quilts, their makers, and quilt history. 

Antique Quilts Resources