The Wedding Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts Series #18)

The Wedding Quilt (Elm Creek Quilts Series #18)

by Jennifer Chiaverini


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The New York Times bestseller celebrates one of America’s most romantic and enduring traditions

As her daughter’s wedding day approaches, Sarah McClure reflects upon Elm Creek brides past and present—the traditions they honored, the legacies they bequeathed, the wedding quilts that contain their stories in every stitch.

Unexpectedly, Caroline confides, “I wish I had a wedding quilt, one I made myself.” Sarah yearns to grant her fervent wish, but even the most talented novice would be daunted by the task of stitching, mere days before the wedding, a worthy symbol of the couple's bonds of love, commitment, trust, and hope for the future. Turning to her cherished friends, the Elm Creek Quilters, Sarah asks them to pool their creative gifts. As the women stitch, their memories render a vivid pastiche of family, friendship, and love in all its varieties.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594722137
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Series: Elm Creek Quilts Series , #18
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 184,430
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author


Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as five collections of quilt projects inspired by the novels. Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker is her most recent book. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

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From the Publisher

“Strong female characters … in interesting lives and times.” —New York Journal of Books

Reading Group Guide


Sarah McClure has a long and storied history with Elm Creek Manor. As founder and president of Elm Creek Quilts, she lies at the center of a well respected, beloved quilting community and carries on the memory of her dear friend and quilting mentor Sylvia Bergstrom Compson. Despite her familiarity and intimate relationship with the manor, little could prepare her for one of the most important events in her life there: her daughter Caroline’s wedding.

The blessed event sends Sarah down memory lane as she reminisces about the wonderful friends she has gained at Elm Creek Quilts, some gone, but none forgotten. Through birth, marriage, divorce, town disputes, and even death, Sarah has seen her Elm Creek Quilters grow closer and stronger with every passing year. Sarah soon discovers that the love and support of her fellow Elm Creek Quilters is never out of reach and though the members of their community may often change, the spirit of Elm Creek will always remain the same.

The Wedding Quilt is a novel about love and friendship. It is about our lives intertwining with others’ lives, and getting stronger for it. It is a book about sharing fears as well as triumphs, sorrows as well as joys, and leaning on each other in order to make it through it all.


Jennifer Chiaverini lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to the six volumes in the Elm Creek Quilts series and two books of quilt patterns inspired by the novels, she designs the Elm Creek Quilts fabric line from Red Rooster Fabrics.


Q. When bride–to–be Caroline McClure returns to Elm Creek Manor a few days before her wedding, she confides to her mother, “I wish I had a wedding quilt, one I made myself.” Did you make a wedding quilt of your own or receive one as a special gift? Did that cherished quilt inspire The Wedding Quilt?

I’ve been married more than eighteen years, but I acquired my wedding quilt only recently. When Marty and I were engaged, like Caroline I longed for a beautiful heirloom wedding quilt to commemorate the occasion. Unfortunately, none of my friends or relatives quilted, and we couldn’t afford to buy a genuine, handmade quilt. Eventually I realized that if I wanted a beautiful heirloom wedding quilt, I’d have to make it myself.

Our town didn’t have a quilt shop where I could take lessons, so I found an instruction book titled “Teach Yourself How to Quilt,” bought some fabric from a discount store, and taught myself to piece and appliqué by following the step–by–step instructions. My first project was a simple nine–block sampler rather than the elaborate king–sized bed quilt I had envisioned, but I was pleased with it, and I was eager to try more challenging projects. I bought more pattern books, browsed through quilting magazines, sought advice from more experienced quilters on the Internet—and learned through trial and error and lots of picking out seams.

As for that beautiful heirloom wedding quilt I had wanted so badly as a bride. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that while I’ve made many quilts through the years, I never got around to that particular project. And then, not long after I wrote The Wedding Quilt, I decided to make a version of Caroline’s Double Wedding Ring quilt for a new pattern book. My husband and I liked it so much that he suggested we choose it to be our wedding quilt. If I had waited two more years, I could have called it our twentieth anniversary quilt—but I suppose we’d already waited long enough!

Q. The world of The Wedding Quilt spans the lives of many characters over many decades, just as the Elm Creek Quilts series moves effortlessly between the past and present from book to book. Tell us how that feels creatively. How do you come up with so many different story lines spanning different generations? Did you plan to take this approach from the beginning of the series?

I enjoy writing both contemporary and historical stories, and I’m pleased that my readers—and my publishers—have embraced my more flexible definition of a series so that I could write in both genres. When I wrote my first novel, The Quilter’s Apprentice, I had no idea it would be the first of many intertwined books, so I didn’t map out an extended storyline that would be spread out over a certain number of volumes. In hindsight, I think it’s fortunate that I launched the Elm Creek Quilts series this way. Instead of proceeding in a strict linear fashion, following the same thread of the same character’s life in perfect chronological order, I’ve been able to take secondary characters from earlier stories and make them the protagonists of new books. In other novels, I’ve delved into a familiar character’s past, exploring entirely new settings and characters that are still tied in some way to the Elm Creek Valley. Because I’m not stuck in the traditional series format, I’ve enjoyed the creative freedom to write novels that explore new characters and settings while still satisfying readers who want to see the people and places they have already come to know and love.

Q. Quilting connects all of your characters in significant ways, and you are a quilter yourself. How have your own experiences as a quilter inspired your writing?

Beginning writers are often advised to “write what you know.” Since I knew about quilters—their quirks, their inside jokes, their disputes and their generosity, their quarrels and their kindnesses— the lives of quilters became a natural subject for me. I also wanted to pay tribute to the quilters of ages past who preserved and handed down their traditions through the generations.

When I first began writing about quilters, I had two audiences in mind. The first included my quilter friends, who I thought would enjoy reading about contemporary women like themselves with problems and dreams like their own, overcoming obstacles in their lives by taking strength from their own moral courage and from the support of faithful friends. I also believed quilters would appreciate a depiction of modern quilters and quilt–making free of the usual stereotypes.

But I also intended to write for non–quilters, to give them some insight into the quilting world, so that they might better understand how passionate we quilters are about our art and why we love it so. I wanted them to take away from my books a greater understanding of how quilting is a wonderful creative outlet that can draw you into a wider community of talented, welcoming quilters who support and encourage one another. Perhaps more importantly, I wanted them to discover how quilting can bring together people from different generations, races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds into a patchwork of friendship.

Q. Do you think of the quilts you feature in each of your Elm Creek Quilts novels as characters, of a sort? How do you decide which quilts and patterns to include in which novels? What do you say to people who assume your books are only about quilts?

People who assume my books are only about quilts obviously haven’t read them! I’ve always known that my books are about quilters—in other words, people—rather than quilts or quilting. That said, the quilts my characters make are never arbitrary. They aren’t included as an afterthought or as set decoration, but are as important to my characters as real quilts are to the quilters who make them.

Often I’ll use a quilt to provide insight into a particular character’s personality or past. You can learn a great deal about quilters from the style of quilts they make, the techniques they use, their color and fabric palettes, and whether they finish quilts or have a closet full of abandoned projects. In my novels, sometimes a quilt will play an important role as a narrative device. In The Quilter’s Apprentice, a sampler quilt serves as a useful instructional project as a master quilter teaches her young friend how to quilt, but the patterns also evoke stories from the older woman’s childhood and life as a young bride on the World War II home front. In Round Robin, a collaborative project allowed me to tell the story from different characters’ perspectives as the central block was passed around the circle of friends and each contributed her border.

Ultimately, however, my novels are character–driven stories of friendship, history, moral courage, and ordinary people’s struggle to overcome adversity—and you don’t need to know anything about quilts or quilting to enjoy them.

Q. What are you working on now? Will we hear more from the Elm Creek Quilters?

Within the next year, the nineteenth and twentieth Elm Creek Quilts novels, Sonoma Rose and The Giving Quilt, will be released in paperback. My next novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, will be published in January 2013. I absolutely loved researching and writing this book, and I hope my readers will be as captivated as I was by the life of Elizabeth Keckley, the former slave who became the dressmaker and trusted confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln. In Fall 2013, Plume will publish a reader’s guide to the Elm Creek Quilts series, An Elm Creek Quilts Companion, which will include character biographies, a Bergstrom family tree, descriptions of significant places and things, illustrations of quilt blocks, an interview with the Elm Creek Quilters, and a few other reference tools readers have told me they’d like to have at their fingertips. While writing the Companion, I’ve enjoyed reading through all twenty of the Elm Creek Quilts novels, revisiting favorite settings and tracing the winding paths my characters have followed through the years. It’s been quite a journey for me as well.


  • Who is Sarah McClure? How would you describe her character at the start of the book? How does her daughter’s wedding act as a catalyst for the memories and events that unfold throughout the novel?
  • After reading about the birth of Sarah and Matt’s twins, what is your opinion of the conflict Matt experiences between his responsibilities as a father–to–be and his responsibilities to his father? How do his actions inform his relationship with Sarah? What do we learn about Matt and Sarah during that experience?
  • How would you describe Sarah’s children, Caroline and James? How are they similar? How are they different? How do their relationships with Sarah differ and how do those relationships inform Sarah’s character?
  • Who is Sylvia? How would you define her relationship with Sarah? What does Sylvia ultimately bequeath to Sarah and what does that say about their friendship?
  • What does Bonnie find for herself in Hawaii that she didn’t have before? How does her decision regarding Elm Creek Quilt Camp affect Sarah? What does the friendship between Sarah and Bonnie say about them and the Elm Creek Quilts community?
  • Sarah points out that she is “not Elm Creek Quilts.It’s so much more than one person.” What does Sarah mean to the Elm Creek Quilts community? What is her role? Could you imagine any of the other members running Elm Creek Quilts? Why or why not?
  • What connection exists between the Elm Creek Quilters and Waterford’s Union Hall? Why is this connection significant? What importance does quilting have in the history of the Waterford community? How would you describe quilting’s significance in the nation as a whole?
  • What do the Winding Ways panels the quilters hang in the library mean to the core group of Elm Creek Quilters? What does it say about their relationships? Why do you think things like the Winding Ways quilt bring people together?
  • Just before the wedding, Sarah gives Caroline a piece of jewelry belonging to Sylvia. Why do you think Sarah does this? What does the jewelry mean? What does this gesture say about the role Sylvia had in both of their lives?
  • During the rehearsal dinner, Caroline says that she admires her mother and father’s relationship. How would you describe Sarah’s initial reaction to this admiration? Do you agree with her? What is your opinion of Caroline after their talk and what future do you see for her marriage to Leo?
  • Sarah gives James and Caroline gifts that Sylvia had made them before her death. What were these gifts? What is the significance of these gifts? What did Sylvia mean to the McClure family and to Elm Creek Quilts in general?
  • What future do you see for Sarah McClure and Elm Creek Quilts? What will happen to Caroline? What role will James play in the camp’s future? What does Elm Creek Quilts mean to Sarah and what role does it play in her life?
  • Customer Reviews

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    The Wedding Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
    harstan More than 1 year ago
    In 2028 Sarah McClure owns Elm Creek Manor where her daughter Caroline is getting married. Attending the wedding on the bride's side besides her friends and family is the Elm Creek Quilters. Sarah looks back to when Caroline and her twin James were born to her and Matt. Inheriting the manor, Sarah saved the Elm Creek Quilt Camp from insolvency. She recalls the Quilters being there for her during her pregnancy but Matt was away much of the time helping his father with his business. Musing about some of her cherished Quilters and their quilts, Sarah is caught by surprise when her bookworm daughter decides to create a special wedding quilt since Caroline never was passionate about quilting like her mom is. Sarah wants to help her daughter's dream come true as she never made a wedding quilt, but is unaware that her historian loving son is secretly seeing Gina. The latest Elm Creek Quilts drama is for die hard fans only as the story line consists of a series of flashback vignettes from previous novels. The cast is as always is solid and references to the "Founding Mother" Sylvia add to the tale. However, there is little conflict amongst the party; as The Wedding Quilt mostly summarizes much of the major episodic events from previous novels. Harriet Klausner
    TicketWoman More than 1 year ago
    This was not one of my favorite Elm Creek Quilts novels. I actually put off reading the book for a month or so until I read some reviews. I enjoyed some of the story-the filling in of the gaps of what happened to each of the original Elm Creek Quilters. But at my last reading the twins were not even born yet and here all of a sudden they are 25 years old and one is getting married! I hope some more books come along with the original (almost) Quilters!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    a fun read but I enjoyed the earlier books more this just seemed a little disjointed in characters
    dollycas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    It¿s September 2028 and Sarah¿s daughter is getting married. Chiavernini takes us back in time as Sarah¿s thoughts are filled with brides of Elm Creek Manor past and present-the traditions they honored, the legacies they bequeathed, and the wedding quilts that contain their stories in every stitch.Sarah is also working on the perfect Wedding Quilt for her daughter complete with loving messages from all the guests of the wedding.Dollycas¿s ThoughtsAs you know by now this is one of my favorite series. I love it when the author takes us back in time for the history of Elm Creek Valley and the when she writes of the wonderful Elm Creek Quilters. The Wedding Quilt has left me very sad and conflicted.I know this is not the last Elm Creek Novel because I have an advance copy of Sonoma Rose right here on my desk, but while it is billed as an Elm Creek Quilts Novel, from a glance it doesn¿t look like it features any of our favorites or connects to their history.All of the current ladies¿ history was wrapped up in The Wedding Quilt. The author put together snippets from past books and added a few pages to tie up all the loose ends. I feel like I have lost my fictional friends.While Jennifer Chiaverini is an awesome writer and writes wonderful stories featuring very strong women, the was clearly not her best work. I feel there could have been several more books written with these characters. When I received this book I thought The Wedding Quilt would be about Anna and Jeremy¿s wedding who came together at the end of A Quilter¿s Holiday. I was shocked to find the wedding for one of the twins just born in real time. There is no way to go back.I know sometimes the author¿s work doesn¿t necessarily go in the direct they would like, publishers and others have a great deal of input. I wish she would have just taken a break from the characters her readers had come to love and let us know she was headed in a different direction either with the series or an entirely new project. I have read several other reviews since finishing of people who also were shocked or disappointed in this installment. When you read a series through 18 books you become attached to the characters and the way it wrapped up just feels wrong.
    busyreadin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    My first finish of 2012! Definitely a good choice for a lazy New Years Eve/Day. This book satisfied in so many ways; almost all of the original quilters appeared, and all the loose ends were tied up.I cant help wondering if this was the ending of the series, though
    tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This book does two things: one, it gives fans of this series a peek into the future, showing where all their favorite characters are; and second, it recaps many of the events of past books, putting those events into context and building a picture of the lives that each of the characters have made. The book is interesting, but there is no compelling storyline which makes it weak for me.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Loved this book. It is a must read.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love this whole series, but this book gave me insight into the future that I did not know I was going to get! I have the whole series and loan them out, but won't give them up because I read them over and over again discovering new things about the ECQ that I didn't get the first time!
    gm37 More than 1 year ago
    If you've read the other books in the series and like them, you'll like this one too. Some of the same characters and new ones introduced. Left me wanting to know if she was writing another one to continue.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed the book but the last book i read about Sarah and the other quilters. A lot had not happened yet. Do we need to read anymore books since we already know how they end.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a great read. I already miss the characters. The story had me laughing and crying along with the characters
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Love "The Quilters". Why skip some of their lives? Sorry I did not ge this one from the library. I hope the next one is more than a collection of short stories.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Loved the book and how all the stories had closure from previous books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I bought this book because I have all the other Elm Creek books, and was looking forward to more adventures with my quilting friends. As other reviewers have said, parts are excellent - but that doesn't make up for the majority of the book. Chiaverini had enough material for several new books, books that would have been an asset to the series. But instead of writing those books, she wrote long synopses and crammed them into this book. Is she bored with the Elm Creek Quilters? Is she going on to a new series instead? I plan on reading more of her books, but they will be from the library, not on my Nook.
    k-59 More than 1 year ago
    good read. have read all her books.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Very good recap of some of her previous books along with a new story line and some story lines 'up to date', and a great ending.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Hello? Did any other readers find it absurd that Chiaverini mentions several times that Sarah TEXTS her husband Matt while in labor? The author then continues to mention the texting, and cellphone voicemail throughout the novel. While a fan of Chiaverini's work, somehow this one managed to slip by of her editors and that definitely jaded my view of this novel. Sorry, but I just couldn't get past that issue.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    qltnbe More than 1 year ago
    If you read Jennifer's books, you will love this one as much as the others.