Making Animal Quilts

Overview

Americans love animals. Animal motifs have been favorites of quilters and other folk artists since the mid-19th century. Willow Soltow has put together a collection of 200 stylized animal patterns (templates) along with 20 sample projects, many of them with multiple variations. There also is an extensive survey of the use of animal patterns throughout American folk art.

"Drawing on the ingenuity of American crafters and the celebratory designs...
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Overview

Americans love animals. Animal motifs have been favorites of quilters and other folk artists since the mid-19th century. Willow Soltow has put together a collection of 200 stylized animal patterns (templates) along with 20 sample projects, many of them with multiple variations. There also is an extensive survey of the use of animal patterns throughout American folk art.

"Drawing on the ingenuity of American crafters and the celebratory designs of such modern masters as Matisse, Soltow offers inspirational designs that feature animals as motifs . . . Full-size patterns for tracing each design come with clear instructions on basic techniques." -- Publishers Weekly
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Drawing on the ingenuity of American crafters and the celebratory designs of such modern masters as Matisse, Soltow offers inspirational designs that feature animals as motifs in quilts for bed covers and in totes, shawls, place mats, etc. Altogether there are 20 projects, and each has many recommended variations. Soltow also urges the reader not to follow her direction blindly, but to combine or adapt ideas to create an original piece. Full-size patterns for tracing each design and its variations come with clear instructions on basic techniques. One of the more endearing patterns: Night in the Forest, with attendant bat, deer, fox, et al., and a variation, Fairy Tale Castle, with a frog awaiting the magic kiss. (November)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780934672399
  • Publisher: Good Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1986
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 8.66 (w) x 10.76 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Animals in Folk Art

Have you ever had difficulty following directions? Well, welcome to Making Animal Quilts! Here you will constantly be encouraged NOT to follow the directions!

As you look through these pages, you'll find 20 basic projects each with up to five variations. You can follow the basic project directions if you like. Or you can follow the directions for one of the variations. Or you can combine ideas from several different variations to come up with a project that is uniquely your own creation. That's what is meant by NOT following the directions.

Making Animal Quilts is designed to allow your creative energy to flow, without leaving you high and dry when it comes to planning details.

The World of Animals/

Animals share our world. For many of us, well-loved animals also share our lives and our homes. A few of the lucky ones even share our quilts, selecting, perhaps, a corner of a cozy, quilt-covered bed as their own private domain. For those of us who love animals and love quilting, it's only natural to want to combine our interests.

The desire to portray animals, as well as other elements from our daily lives, in our quilts is rooted in the American quilting traditions. For generations, pioneer women relied on creative needlework as one of the few socially acceptable outlets by which to express themselves.

Many of these women designed beautiful pieced and appliqued quilts. A few particularly ambitious ones created exquisite, one-of-a-kind quilts that were more than needlecraft; they were pictures executed in fabric. In these picture quits, early American quilters portrayed that which was dearest to them -- animals, people, flowers, a home, a church, or a village. Many of these unique picture quilts featured animal motifs or elaborate scenes in which domestic and wild creatures played a part.

This book regards an animal quilt as any appliqued or pictorial quilts that emphasized animal motifs. It is not necessarily a quilt that portrays animals to the exclusion of all else -- it is the quilt about which we can say, when we come away from it, that we remember the animals best of all. Human animals have always been fascinated with the non-human co-habitants of our world. Likewise, many of us are drawn to quilts that portray the creatures with whom we share the earth.

Picture quilts and animal quilts were never more popular than during the 19th century. Some animal quilts were crib quilts. Others were crazy quilts, with animal shapes appliqued or embroidered onto random fabric patches. Still others were executed as more formal designs with calico animal motifs arranged on white muslin backgrounds.

Animals and People/

Animal quilts are special not only because they are fun to make, but because they hint of a simpler way of life. They are reminiscent of a time when the daily lives of people and animals were more closely intertwined. Few children today (few adults, for that matter) have ever actually seen the cow that produced the milk they drink or the hen that laid their morning eggs. In contrast, animals played an important role in the day-to-day activities of most 19th-century Americans.

In Vermont, for instance, in the late 1800s, 75 percent of the land was used for farming and only 25 percent was wooded. Most of these farms were owned and run by one family. They included a complement of animals hand-raised by the people themselves. Today the above figures are reversed. The small, one-family farm has to struggle just to survive in a world of large agricultural conglomerates. With "factory farming" and intensive animal husbandry at an all-time high, there are not fewer animals -- just fewer animals to be seen. But the lifestyle of most rural 19th-century Americans fairly revolved around animals they saw each day.

As a result, animals were popular subjects in folk art, the everyday art of everyday people. Animal shapes were incorporated into weather vanes, toys, tools, and decorations of all kinds. Stencils of birds and butterflies decorated walls, floors, and furniture. Carved animals adorned canes and walking sticks. In the kitchen, animal shapes formed pot lids and spoon handles, cookie cutters, candy molds, and baking molds. In addition, countless animal designs were hand-drawn and sewn into quilts and coverlets of all types and sizes.

Today, country fashions and folk-art styles are enjoying an unparalleled revival. Many of the motifs used in creating contemporary county-style fashions and furnishings are animal motifs -- stylized birds, cats, or cows, among others. All these designs have their roots in the American folk art tradition.

[continued]
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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Animals in Folk Art
Discovering Designs
Getting Started
Template Diagrams
Readings and Sources
Index
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