Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Recreating Antique Quilts

If you're a faithful reader of our blog and Benartex fabric lover, chances are you are pretty familiar with Wendy Sheppard's name. We always enjoy seeing what she does with Benartex fabrics--from quilts featured in magazines to free pattern designs featured on our website to tutorials included in our blog hops. Today we're featuring Wendy's book, Recreating Antique Quilts. The book shares exactly what the name says--quilts in Wendy's signature style that are re-interpreted from antique treasures. We think you'll like it as much as we do! Read on to learn more about Wendy's book and see some of the projects in it.

What inspired your topic choice for your book?
I have always been fascinated by the rich quilting history in America ever since I started quilting about 10 years ago. The historical connection means even more for someone like myself who didn't grow up in the States. I relish in looking at antique quilts.  I often felt a little sad because many of the antique quilts do not bear records of the makers.  I often imagine the friendships among the quilting women - the joys and sorrows they share with each other whether through peace or war.

When I was approached to write a book by Landauer Publishing, I decided to re-interpret a few of the antique quilts for today's quilters, using today's fabrics and techniques in an attempt to connect the quilters today with the quilting treasures of the past.

How long was the process from start to finish?
I think from start to finish, it was about 1 year.  But as long as I have been quilting, the desire to re-make and re-interpret antique quilts have always been near and dear to my heart.

What is your favorite project in the book?
That is hard to pick - it's like a mother to play favoritism and pick her favorite child. Ha!  A few of my favorites are: Calico Trail (because of the simple blocks that make a very pleasing visual effect), Oh, Happy Stars (because the colors of the quilt are so happy, and the applique of swirls and bird just steal my heart!), Feathery Formation (because of the space available for quilting), and the two DAR-inspired applique projects (because applique adds additional dimensions to any quilts). (See a collage of all the projects in Recreating Antique Quilts here.)

Oh, Happy Stars

Can you tell us a bit more about one of these projects?
Sure ! The Ivory Baltimore Wallhanging -- it is made with Benartex's Blush fabrics.  I took two blocks from a DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) quilt, and re-interpreted them for a banner project.  The project is small enough for quilters to finish and practice on their applique skills for those who haven't done many applique quilts.
Ivory Baltimore Wall Hanging
The colors of the project are inspired by old French red on cream needlework projects.  I reversed the colors, and used cream applique on red for Ivory Baltimore.  The left applique is actually half of an
applique block.  The inspiration came motifs of antique Quaker needlework
samples that are oftentimes halved at the borders. Quilting was allover feathers on around the applique. I am very thrilled about the warm responses I have received on Ivory Baltimore.

How did you choose the quilts you used for inspiration?
For the quilts in the book, I have mainly done my research online.  I often visit museums to admire antique quilts, but none of them became basis for my projects for this book.  That will happen though -- I have a few ideas.  I chose the quilts based on how versatile the designs were to adapt for today's quilters, and how easily the quilters themselves can personalize and customize the projects to make their own masterpieces.

What is the most interesting comment you’ve gotten from someone who has read your book?
The most interesting (and heartening) comment I have gotten is that the quilter could immediately relate the book cover with me from that bird and swirl applique.

Tell us your favorite thing about the book.
It is so me -- the projects, the presentation and the layout of the book. The editorial staff at Landauer did a most tremendous job in reflecting my personality throughout the book.  I have been doubly pleased that Recreating Antique Quilts was awarded the silver medal of Independent Book Publishers Association's Benjamin Franklin Award.

Congratulations, Wendy!

Click here to read more of what Wendy has to say about her book.
Click here to purchase Wendy's book or ask for it at your local quilt shop.
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  1. Wendy Sheppard is one of my favorite quilters. She makes quilting so doable for all of us with her patterns and quilting techniques. Thanks for doing a post about her!!!

  2. I love Wendy Sheppard - she's a fantastic mentor, designer,and quilter - not to mention just a really sweet person. I was thrilled to participate in both blog hops for her new book. The fabrics Wendy used for her projects were just beautiful!! Thank you Benartex. Here is a link to the 2nd blog hop/review of Wendy's awesome book!!

  3. Excellent interview with Wendy! I love the book, also. It's inspiring and so well done. Funny, I was just looking at it this morning and then got the email about your blog post.

  4. I really like the Oh Happy Stars quilts!

  5. This is a fabulous book. Wendy is such an amazing quilter and is so generous with her designs. She is a breath of fresh air and a true inspiration for all of us.

  6. Wendy is truly an inspiration to us all, young and old, new quilter or long-time quilter and everyone in between. Absolutely love her book. My only problem, which do I stitch first?