QUILTS AND QUILT MAKING

 

Celebrate National Quilting Day in the Activities Calendars with quilt-related weblinks and activities.

 

Anderson, Janet S.  Sunflower Sal.  Illus. by Elizabeth Johns.  Albert Whitman, 1997.  Gr. 1-4
Sal wants to make a quilt, but her large hands make sewing difficult. Instead, she plants hundreds of sunflowers and creates a “patchwork” of spaces and plants in the fields. Bright, cheerful illustrations highlight this story about making use of one’s own special talents.

Atkins, Jeannine.  A Name on the Quilt: A Story of Remembrance.  Illus. by Tad Hills.  Atheneum, 1999.  Gr. 2-5
As they grieve, the friends and family of a man who has died as a result of AIDS work together on a quilt panel in his memory for the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Bial, Raymond.  With Needle and Thread.  Houghton Mifflin, 1996.  Gr. 3-6
This photo-essay discusses techniques and styles of quilt making, both as a folk tradition and a contemporary art form. With the social history of quilting as the focus, the author addresses traditions of different cultural groups. Full-color photographs enhance the presentation.

Bolton, Janet.  My Grandmother’s Patchwork Quilt.  Delacorte, 1994.  Gr. K-3
Illustrated with photographs, the double-paged spreads throughout the book tell the story of how a grandmother made a quilt (on the lefthand page) and explain each of the farm animal scenes on the quilt (on the righthand page). The book comes with 10 quilt squares and directions for making them into a quilt.

Bourgeois, Paulette.  Oma’s Quilt.  Illus. by Stéphane Jorisch.  Kids Can Press, 2001.  Gr. 1-4
Emily’s Oma (grandmother) is disgruntled about her move to a retirement home and is very vocal about leaving her belongings behind. When Emily and her mother go through Oma’s things, she has the idea of making a quilt from them, which eventually eases the transition to the new home.

Brumbeau, Jeff.  The Quiltmaker’s Gift.  Illus. by Gail de Marcken.  Scholastic, 2001.  Gr. 2-4
Vividly colored full-page illustrations are the heart of this story about a gifted quiltmaker who refuses to make a quilt for the king until he gives away his abundance of material possessions. Labeled quilt patterns are included. See also: The Quiltmaker’s Journey.

Cline-Ransome, Lesa.  The Quilt Alphabet.  Illus. by James E. Ransome.  Holiday House, 2001.  Gr. K-2
Each letter of the alphabet is enclosed in a quilt block, and a short rhyme gives a clue to something that starts with the letter. Luscious oil paintings assist in solving the poem riddles.

Cline-Ransome, Lesa.  Quilt Counting.  Illus. by James E. Ransome.  SeaStar, 2002.  Gr. K-2
In a companion to The Quilt Alphabet, a little girl helps her mother and grandmother collect items from 1 to 10 needed to make a quilt. As they start sewing scenes of farm life, pictures count from 10 to 1 to make the quilt complete. Bright colors in the illustrations capture the love of home and family.

Cobb, Mary.  The Quilt-Block History of Pioneer Days with Projects Kids Can Make.  Millbrook, 1995.  Gr. 3-6
This combination history and crafts project book utilizes quilts as a means of providing information about pioneer life in America. Quilt blocks done in watercolor sketches illustrate descriptions of their experiences. In all, more than 50 different quilt patterns are included. Directions for easy-to-make craft projects complete the volume.

Coerr, Eleanor.  The Josefina Story Quilt.  Illus. by Bruce Degen.  HarperCollins, 1986.  Gr. 1-3
Faith is allowed to take her pet hen Josefina along in the covered wagon on the way to California as long as she does not cause trouble. After Josefina squawks a warning to alert the wagon train of trouble, she dies. Faith then adds a memory patch for her in the quilt she is making. This I-Can-Read offering contains an appended note with additional information about quilts as a means of recording history.

Cole, Barbara Hancock.  Texas Star.  Illus. by Barbara Minton.  Orchard, 1990.  Gr. K-2
Papa grumbles that they don’t need another quilt, but Mama goes ahead with her plans for a quilting bee anyway. Family and neighbors gather to make a Texas Star quilt in a day of good food and the fellowship of working on something creative together. Even Papa admits they can use the quilt after all. Large watercolor illustrations exude the warmth of family and friendship.

Dallas, Sandra.  The Quilt Walk.  Sleeping Bear Press, 2012.  Gr. 5-8
In her first book for younger readers, Dallas relates the long and arduous trip of 10-year-old Emmy and her family by wagon to Golden, Colorado. Filled with engaging detail and strong female characters, the story is a satisfying read.

Dwyer, Mindy.  Quilt of Dreams.  Alaska Northwest Books, 2000.  Gr. 2-5
After her grandmother dies, Katy resolves to learn to stitch and finish the quilt her grandmother left for her. As she and her mother work on it through the long Alaska winter, they wonder about the unusual pattern of triangles until Katy has a dream about flying with cranes, her grandmother’s favorite bird. Watercolor illustrations create a cozy feeling. The appended author’s note discusses quilt patterns.

Ernst, Lisa Campbell.  Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt.  Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1983.  Gr. K-3
The women of Rosedale are a little skeptical when Sam and the men start their own quilting club. As each group works hard, however, on their entries for the county fair, they grow curious about the other club’s quilt. On the way to the fair, a storm ruins part of each quilt, so the men and women work together to create a prize-winning quilt that is a combination of both patterns. Cheerful illustrations highlight this story about teamwork.

Flournoy, Valerie.  The Patchwork Quilt.  Illus. by Jerry Pinkney.  Dial, 1985.  Gr. K-3
As she stitches a patchwork quilt, Tanya’s grandmother tells her the story of each piece of cloth and the family memory that it signifies. When she becomes too ill to work on it, Tanya decides to finish it herself. Gentle watercolor illustrations depict the warmth of a family lovingly working on a project together.

Gibbons, Gail.  The Quilting Bee.  HarperCollins, 2004.  Gr. 1-4
Bright watercolor paintings illustrate this simple nonfiction text that includes information about the history of quilting, the design and making of quilts, and traditional American patterns. A classroom project idea for making an authors and illustrators quilt is appended.

Good, Merle.  Reuben and the Quilt.  Illus. by P. Buckley Moss.  Good Books, 2001.  Gr. K-3
Reuben’s family makes a beautiful log cabin quilt to sell at an auction to raise money for a family friend to have needed surgery. Unfortunately, the quilt is stolen from their front porch before the auction. When his father places the matching pillowcases by the road along with a note to take them too, the quilt is returned. Watercolor illustrations in folk art style offer a view of Amish life.

Grady, Cynthia.  I Lay My Stitches Down.  Illus. by P. Michele Wood.  Eerdmans, 2012.  Gr. 5 & above
Heart-rending and evocative, 14 free verse poems, told from the perspectives of slaves in varying situations, mirror the structure of quilts by combining spiritual, music, and fiber arts references. Acrylic illustrations add to the power of the presentation. An informational note accompanies each poem.

Guback, Georgia.  Luka’s Quilt.  Greenwillow, 1994.  Gr. K-3
Luka and her Tutu (grandmother) have always been very close, and Luka is excited about the quilt Tutu is making for her. She doesn’t hide her disappointment, however, when she sees that Tutu has made her a traditional Hawaiian quilt in only green and white. This causes a rift between them, but Tutu solves the problem by making Luka a brightly colored quilted lei to display on her quilt. Highly detailed and very colorful mixed media collages enhance the story.

Hicks, Kyra E.  Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria.  Illus. by Lee Edward Fődi.  Brown Books, 2006.  Gr. 2-4
When Martha Ann Erskine was 12 years old, her father finally saved enough money to purchase the freedom of his family and took them to Liberia. There, Martha Ann learned to read and to quilt. She had a dream to visit Queen Victoria in person one day and give her a quilt. At age 76, she finally realized her dream. This story of determination is based on actual events.

Hines, Anna Grossnickle.  Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts.  Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2001.  Gr. 2-5
Hines made all of the quilts that illustrate this collection of free verse poems about the seasons. Poems about plants, animals, weather, and landscapes are displayed on a variety of quilt patterns with appropriate color schemes. An extensive appended note explains Hines’s quilting process.

Hines, Anna Grossnickle.  Winter Lights: A Season in Poems and Quilts.  Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2005.  Gr. 2-5
Winter light, including the stars of the winter solstice, the aurora borealis, and lights associated with several holidays, serves as the inspiration for this collection of poems illuminated by Hines’s quilts. An explanation of how the quilts were made is appended.

Hines, Anna Grossnickle.  Peaceful Quilts: Poems and Quilts about Peace.  Henry Holt, 2011.  Gr. 2-5
As in her two previous books, Hines's extraordinary quilts adorn the pages containing 28 poems about peace. The poems are written in different formats and explore the peace theme both in ways meaningful to children and with a broader view.

** Hopkinson, Deborah.  Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt.  Illus. by James Ransome.  Knopf, 2003.  Gr. K-3
Young slave Clara stitches a map quilt based on information from overheard conversations about escaping to Canada. When it comes time for her to go, she leaves the quilt behind for others to use. Richly colored oil paintings underscore the significance of Clara’s accomplishment.

Hopkinson, Deborah.  Under the Quilt of Night.  Illus. by James Ransome.  Atheneum, 2002.  Gr. 2-4
A lyrical text, with no shortage of emotional moments and hardships, and oil paintings in the colors of night relate this suspenseful story of a family escaping along the Underground Railroad and the courage of all those who helped them. They are successful in the end as the night gives way to the yellows and oranges of a beautiful day.

Howard, Ellen.  The Log Cabin Quilt.  Illus. by Ronald Himler.  Holiday House, 1996.  Gr. 2-4
After her mother dies, Elvirey and her family leave their Carolina home for the Michigan woods. Her grandmother insists on taking her quilting scraps even though they had to leave many of their possessions behind. When the winter becomes unbearably cold, they use the quilt scraps as chinks between the logs, and the comfort of them makes the new house seem like a home. Watercolor paintings reflect the feelings of the family.

Johnston, Tony.  The Quilt Story.  Illus. by Tomie dePaola.  Putnam, 1985.  Gr. K-2
A pioneer mother makes a quilt for her daughter Abigail, and it becomes her prized possession and the source of much comfort. Generations later, another little girl finds the quilt in an attic. Her mother repairs it, and it offers the same sort of comfort as it did to its original owner. dePaola’s love for quilts and folk art traditions is evident in the lovely illustrations.

Jonas, Ann.  The Quilt.  Greenwillow, 1984.  Gr. Pre-2
When a little girl gets a patchwork quilt for her bed, she remembers the different occasions associated with the pieces. As she drifts off to sleep, the “little town” created on the quilt comes to life for an adventure. The colorful illustrations will prompt the imagination of readers.

Kinsey-Warnock, Natalie.  The Canada Geese Quilt.  Illus. by Leslie W. Bowman.  Dutton, 1989.  Gr. 3-5
Ten-year-old Ariel loves the Vermont farm on which she lives with her parents and grandmother. She worries about how their lives might change once the new baby is born and becomes even more concerned when her grandmother has a stroke and seems to lose interest in recovering. Ariel designs a quilt for the new baby and enlists the help of her grandmother in making it. Black and white illustrations softly illustrate this short, but moving, novel.

Lewis, Kim.  A Quilt for Baby.  Candlewick, 2002.  Gr. Pre-1
As she sews, a mother tells her baby about the quilt she is making featuring all the animals on their farm. The text is soothing and rhythmic. The colored pencil illustrations depict a large farm scene on one page with the same scene on a quilt square on the opposite page.

Love, D. Anne.  Bess’s Log Cabin Quilt.  Holiday House, 1995.  Gr. 3-5
Bess is alone with her mother on their farm in the Oregon Territory and worried that her father has not come home from his job with a wagon train. When her mother becomes ill and the family faces eviction because of money owed, Bess decides to enter a quilt (the first she’s ever made) in a quilting contest in hopes of winning the prize money.

Lowell, Susan.  The Elephant Quilt: Stitch by Stitch to California!  Illus. by Stacey Dressen-McQueen.  Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2008.
Gr. 1-4
A family’s trip to California along the Santa Fe Trail in 1859 is fraught with adventure and amazing sights, which a little girl and her grandmother stitch into a quilt. “Seeing the elephant” is the metaphor for the journey, and an elephant appears in the quilt that is finally assembled at the end of the trip. Cheerful, brightly colored paintings incorporate fabrics and stitchery into the art.

Lyons, Mary E.  Stitching Stars: The Story Quilts of Harriet Powers.  Atheneum, 1993.  Gr. 4-6
This biography of African American quilter Harriet Powers, who made quilts based on Bible stories and folk tales, is illustrated with color photographs of some of her quilts. Her story is set within the context of quilting by slaves on Georgia plantations.

McKissack, Patricia.  Stitchin’ and Pullin’: A Gee’s Bend Quilt.  Illus. by Cozbi A. Cabrera.  Random House, 2008.  Gr. 2-5
Several generations of women from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, have traditionally gathered to stitch quilts and tell stories. Their quilts pay tribute to the freedoms they have acquired over the years. At the center of this collection of poems is Baby Girl, who starts out playing under the quilting frames and ends up an adult who assists the quilt making herself. Vibrant illustrations reflect the warmth of the women working together.

Mills, Lauren.  The Rag Coat.  Little, Brown, 1991.  Gr. 1-4
Minna would like to attend school, but she doesn’t have a coat. The mothers who gather regularly to make quilts help her out by making a patchwork coat with cloth scraps. Minna is thrilled with the coat, but when she wears it to school, her classmates tease her. After she tells them that the coat is filled with their stories, because of the cloth scraps from their homes, they change their attitudes. Soft watercolor illustrations give the feeling of a time past.

Paschkis, Julie.  Mooshka, a Quilt Story.  Peachtree, 2012.  Gr. K-3
Karla loves her special quilt, mooshka, made from scraps of fabric representing many members of her family. At bedtime, the quilt comforts Karla by whispering stories of her ancestors. When a new baby sister arrives, the routines are upset and the quilt becomes quiet. Only when Karla shares the quilt with the baby do the stories begin once again. Cheerful illustrations in bright colors.

Paul, Ann Whitford.  Eight Hands Round.  Illus. by Jeanette Winter.  HarperCollins, 1991.  Gr. 1-4
Twenty-six quilt patterns, one for each letter of the alphabet, serve as a vehicle for presenting information about pioneer life. A short paragraph elaborates on the topic of each page. The illustrations show the pattern in a single block and as part of a quilt.

Paul, Ann Whitford.  The Seasons Sewn: A Year in Patchwork.  Illus. by Michael McCurdy.  Harcourt, 1996.  Gr. 2-5
Divided into the four seasons, the text presents information about the varied lives of pioneer families. For each historical piece, the author proposes a patchwork pattern, which is drawn as a single block and then placed in small full-sized quilt to show the overall effect. Scratchboard illustrations complement the text perfectly.

Polacco, Patricia.  The Keeping Quilt.  Simon & Schuster, 1988.  Gr. 2-4
In a touching first-person narrative, the story follows four generations of a family that immigrated to the U.S. from Russia, linked by a quilt they made upon arrival to remind them of home. Black-and-white illustrations done in pencil and charcoal with only the pieces of fabric from the quilt shown in color provide cultural details. The final illustration reveals a self-portrait of Polacco with her own daughter wrapped in the quilt.

Ransom, Candice F.  The Promise Quilt.  Illus. by Ellen Beier.  Walker, 2002.  Gr. 2-4
In this Civil War era story, Addie’s father has promised her that she can go to school one day. When he leaves to fight in the war and never returns, Addie’s family, along with many others, faces great hardship, and school seems unlikely. Addie’s mother decides to make a quilt to sell to earn money for books and school supplies, but she doesn’t have enough cloth. Addie gives her a shirt that belonged to her father so she can complete the project. Detailed illustrations in muted colors complement this story of resilience and sacrifice.

Ringgold, Faith.  Cassie’s Word Quilt.  Knopf, 2002.  Gr. K-2
Cassie from Tar Beach takes readers on a tour of her home, neighborhood, and school, introducing new words along the way. Ringgold’s quilt art transfers beautifully to the page in the different quilt motifs that appear in the colorful spreads.

Ringgold, Faith.  Tar Beach.  Crown, 1991.  Gr. 1-4
Originally one of Ringgold’s story quilts (which is reproduced at the end of the book), the story shows Cassie at first picnicking with family and friends on the rooftop of her Harlem apartment building and later soaring above the city in a fantasy of memories. The lyrical text and artwork rendered in the style of the paintings on the quilt make this a memorable book.

Root, Phyllis.  The Name Quilt.  Illus. by Margot Apple.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003.  Gr. K-3
The patchwork quilt on Sadie’s bed at Grandma’s house if filled with names and memories, all attached to her grandmother’s many stories. When a terrible storm blows the quilt off the clothesline, Sadie is sad that it is lost. The stories are not lost, however, and she and Grandma begin a new quilt with patches of fabrics from their own lives. Soft pastel art work, as comfortable as a quilt, illustrate this reminder that quilts can be important memory-keepers of family and home.

Ross, Kent & Alice.  Cemetery Quilt.  Illus. by Rosanne Kaloustian.  Houghton Mifflin, 1995.  Gr. 2-4
In this somber story, Josie’s family travels to her grandmother’s house after her grandfather dies, and Josie discovers the family “cemetery quilt,” a dark coverlet with coffins stitched on it containing the names of family members. She eventually comes to terms with the quilt as part of the grieving process, as well as a symbol of her family history.

Roth, Susan & Phang, Ruth.  Patchwork Tales.  Atheneum, 1984.  Gr. K-3
A grandmother tells her granddaughter family stories about the different blocks in a patchwork quilt. Woodcut illustrations are suited to the old-fashioned patterns in the quilt blocks. Directions for making a small quilt are appended.

Rubin, Susan Goldman.  The Quilts of Gee's Bend.  Abrams, 2017.  Gr. 4-7
The history and culture of the unique quilting tradition from the women of Gee's Bend in rural Alabama is explored in this well-researched volume. Extensive back matter.

Rumford, James.  When Silver Needles Swam: the Story of Tutu’s Quilt.  Manoa Press, 1998.  Gr. 2-4
A Hawaiian grandmother joins with family and friends to make a Hawaiian flag quilt in honor of Hawaii’s annexation by the United States in 1898. Vivid watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations enhance the bilingual text presented in both English and Hawaiian. An author’s note explains the story’s historical context.

Smucker, Barbara.  Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt.  Illus. by Janet Wilson.  Knopf, 1996.  Gr. 2-4
Because of their pacifist beliefs, Selina’s Mennonite family flees from Pennsylvania to Canada during the Civil War. Her grandmother is too old to make the trip, and Selina is heartbroken, but her grandmother gives her the bear paw quilt that she has been stitching from pieces of cloth that contain memories from the whole family. Highly detailed and richly colored illustrations depict a variety of quilt patterns in the borders of the pages with the bear paw featured on the endpapers.

** Stroud, Bettye.  The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom.  Illus. by Erin Susanne Bennett.  Candlewick, 2005.  Gr. 2-4
In a first person narrative, a slave girl tells how she and her father escape slavery by traveling the Underground Railroad to Canada using the coded symbols on a patchwork quilt. Oil paintings in a collage style provide additional drama. An appended note reveals the history behind the story.

Turner, Ann.  Sewing Quilts.  Illus. by Thomas B. Allen.  Simon & Schuster, 1994.  Gr. K-2
A lyrical text and illustrations in soft pastels tell the story of a mother and two daughters who make quilts within the cozy confines of their pioneer cabin.

Van Leeuwen, Jean.  Papa and the Pioneer Quilt.  Illus. by Rebecca Bond.  Dial Books, 2007.  Gr. K-3
Papa’s “wandering” has moved Rebecca’s family many places. Now, they are on their way to Oregon, and they face many hazards as they travel. Rebecca collects scraps for her quilt bag along the way, and when they finally reach their destination, she makes a quilt that she and her siblings sleep under in their new cabin. The first person narrative and gently colored illustrations provide an introduction to the pioneer spirit for younger readers.

** Vaughan, Marcia K.  The Secret to Freedom.  Illus. by Larry Johnson.  Lee & Low, 2001.  Gr. 2-4
A former slave tells her great-niece the story of how she and her brother helped slaves escape using the codes on patchwork quilt patterns. When her brother is beaten and runs away, she does not know what happened to him until many years pass and he sends her a piece of cloth. Rich acrylic paintings add emotion to the story. An author’s note explains the code of several quilt patterns.

Wallace, Nancy Elizabeth.  The Kindness Quilt.  Marshall Cavendish, 2006.  Gr. K-3
When Minna’s (a rabbit) teacher assigns a project for the class to perform an act of kindness and make a picture of it, Minna can’t decide which of the many things she has done to draw. She decides to make a quilt of her pictures, and when the other rabbits see it, they want to make a classroom patchwork. Eventually the whole school has become part of the “kindness quilt.” Collage illustrations that include origami, recycled paper, crayons, markers, and colored pencils add to the appeal of this story that might inspire readers to make their own “kindness quilt.”

Warner, Sunny.  The Moon Quilt.  Houghton Mifflin, 2002.  Gr. 1-3
An elderly woman stitches the past and present of her life into a quilt. Through several passing phases of the moon, the quilt is finally finished and the woman can rest at last. Mixed media collages of colored pencil and paint add texture to the story. The metaphor of the quilt as the woman’s life might be lost on some readers.

Wilbur, Helen L.  F Is for Friendship: A Quilt Alphabet.  Illus. by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen.  Sleeping Bear Press, 2011.  Gr. 2-5
In alphabet book format, brief rhymes and informational text explore the history of quilting, as well as the art and usefulness of quilts. Colorful paintings enhance the content.

Woodson, Jacqueline.  Show Way.  Illus. by Hudson Talbott.  Putnam, 2005.  Gr. 3-6
Based on the author’s own history, the story tells of eight generations of women, from slavery times to the Civil Rights Movement to modern day (the author herself and her daughter). What connects them is the quilt-making tradition of Show Ways, quilts that contain secret meanings. Exquisite multimedia art that utilizes watercolors, chalk, and cloth complements the lyrical text. A book not to be missed!

** According to American Quilts: The Democratic Art, 1780-2007 by Robert Shaw (Sterling, 2009, p. 108) and sources at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, historians with expertise in quilts, African American history, and Underground Railroad history have not been able to corroborate that quilts were ever used as "maps" or contained secret coded designs to assist slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad.

Last updated 02/16/17

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