Baltimore Album Quilts

Baltimore Album Quilts are a distinctive style of applique quilts based on quilts first made in the Baltimore, Maryland area of the US and can be found from New Jersey to South Carolina and as far west as the Mississippi River. The height of interest in this highly stylized quilt was about 1840-1860.

Baltimore Album Quilts typically feature different blocks in a Sampler-style design or a large center block surrounded by smaller blocks, with elaborate appliqued borders. The block patterns are applique and feature a wide variety of botanicals, patriotic themes, ships and other common fraternal symbols of the day.  The blocks were often signed by the maker and most of the quilts were created by several women. Baltimore Album Quilts are often heavily embellished with embroidery, silk ribbon, inking, and were thought to be the makers finest "fancy work".

The revival of interest on Baltimore Album Quilts in the current age began about 1983 when Elly Sienkiewicz published "Spoken Without a Word". The book contained patterns and information about the symbolism and history in these quilts.  She has since published 23 books and DVD's with patterns, instructions on how to make the blocks and research of these quilts.

Benefits of Baltimore Album Quilts

Baltimore Album Quilts made today are both an homage to the quiltmakers of the past and a chance to create applique works of intricate design and beauty.

The intricate detail, wide variety of fabric and embellishment techniques used, and incredible amount of time the handwork takes, makes the Baltimore Album Quilt one of the finest styles of quilts made, then or now.

Supplies and Tools for Baltimore Album Quilts

  • Fabrics for Baltimore Album Quilts are usually high quality cotton for applique, silk ribbon, elaborate cotton prints for fussy cutting, and reproductions of fabrics made in the 1800's.  Cotten sateen is often used for the foundation of the applique blocks.
  • Applique can be accomplished using a wide variety of techniques, choose the technique that works best for you to get the desired results.
  • Patterns and books with detailed instructions for the blocks and borders.
  • Threads are often fine, like silk or thin cotton. The thread can be matched or use a neutral. The choice will depend on the applique technique used.
  • Embellishments can include silk ribbon, heavy decorative thread, beads, inks and textile paints.
  • Basic Sewing supplies - small micro-serrated scissors are a must!
What I Wished I Knew When I Started Baltimore Album Quilts

There is a lot of historical information available on BALTIMORE ALBUM QUILTS in books and online. The more you know, the more you will want to know.

Start small, one block is a beginning. If the Baltimore Album Quilt style speaks to you, you will want to go on to more intricate designs.  Part of the history of this style of quilt is to incorporate themes and symbols that are important to you, which encourages designing your blocks.

Baltimore Album Quilt Resources