Discover Vintage America - DECEMBER 2018

Looking for a quilting challenge?
The American Quilt Study Group can help

Many of you love antique quilts and I hope last month's column about the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) inspired you to join this wonderful organization dedicated to preserving quilt history. If you haven't joined yet, maybe their new Quilt Study Challenge will motivate you.

2018 AQSG 200 Years of Solid Color Quilts, Sandra Starley, new quilt, left, with vintage Amish inspiration.

Every two years, AQSG sponsors a Quilt Study and exhibit focusing on a specific style or era of quilts, or a specific pattern. The first Study exhibit, Chintz Quilts, debuted in 2000 at the annual seminar. It was followed by Crib Quilts (2002), Two Colors Quilts (2004), Pre-1840s Bed Coverings (2006), and Mid-Nineteenth Century Red and Green Quilts (2008).

In 2010, The Kansas City Star Books and AQSG published a book of all the new quilts made for the Nineteenth Century Stars Study, along with their antique inspirations, and artists' statements. AQSG then self-published Colonial Revival Quilts (2012), Civil War Quilts (2014), and Basket Quilts (2016). The 2018 Study book, 200 Years of Solid Color Quilts is in production now. The study books are available on Amazon and help support the work of AQSG.

The 2020 topic is Medallion Quilts: History of a Style. The inspiration can be an antique or vintage medallion style quilt. Any technique or method can be used. The new quilt can be traditional, very modern or somewhere in between. The size limit is 42 inches wide by 42 inches high (maximum) but it can be smaller. You must be a member of AQSG to participate. The Study is limited to 50 people (with a waiting list for others) and sign-ups start in January 2019. Details will be posted on The completed quilts will premiere at the 2020 AQSG Fall Seminar and 25 quilts will be chosen to travel to museums and quilt shows around the United States for four years.

2018 AQSG 200 Years of Solid Color Quilts, Donna Starley, "Squares in a Star" (photos by Sandra Starley)

Eager quilters are now seeking interesting Medallion quilts to capture their fancy. The quilts will come from their personal collections, the collections of friends, quilt and history museums, and historical societies. National museums are frequent sources, but small local collections house inspiring quilts too. Well-known quilts join as never before shown in public family treasures. If the quilt is not part of the member's own collection, the maker must get the owner's permission to use the quilt.

One of the joys and challenges of the Study is deciding how to recreate the inspiration quilt. Some people decide to make exact half-scale, miniature versions of the full size antique quilts. Others highlight a single element or block and make it the same size as the original. Once the pattern design layout is determined, the maker has to decide how to translate it into cloth. Learning a new (to the maker) construction method, like English paper piecing, foundation paper piecing or machine appliqué, is another way to increase the challenge.

And finally, a major part of the Quilt Study is examining the inspiration quilt and sharing what one learns about quilt history through recreating a piece of the past. These written artist statements are exhibited with the quilts and published in the Study book.

I hope you'll be inspired to join the American Quilt Study Group and consider joining in the Quilt Study Challenge. You can also support AQSG by hosting the traveling exhibit at your local museum or quilt show. The 2016 Basket Quilts are now traveling and will be joined soon by the 2018 Solid Color Quilts. A few spots are available in their exhibit schedules.

Sandra Starley is nationally certified quilt appraiser, quilt historian, and avid antique quilt collector. She travels throughout the U.S. presenting talks on antique quilt history, fabric dating classes and trunk shows as well as quilting classes. Learn more at Send your comments and quilt questions to

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