A Brief History of
by Robin Brisson
I have been dealing with fabric since a child and I am still
fascinated by the variety of patterns and colors. Many quilters are making
quilts to commemorate the new century and need many assorted prints to help
them achieve their goal of 2000
I find both quilters and non-quilters are fascinated by the
idea of "CHARM" quilts. So I thought I would share some history with
A charm quilt is different than a regular scrap quilt
because no two fabrics are the same. They are generally constructed of a
"one patch" design, usually a square, triangle or hexagon. Sometimes
the quilter just uses a random design, sewing the rows together as she/he
gathered the fabric. Other quilts have very elaborate designs such as trip
around the world pattern using the light and dark values of the scraps. A true
charm quilt gets its name because a person will cut two patches from the same
cloth, keep one and swap the other with a friend. If a quilt has a particular
color scheme, say all shades of blue, then it is known as a "Beg and
Borrow" quilt. During the 19th century it was common for ladies to write
to their friends and include a sample from the dress they were making. Then
they could share the letter and fabric with their friends. Charm quilts were
traditionally done using just cotton but they were also made with silks,
velvets, satins and brocades. These often included elaborate embroidery
stitches to showcase needlework skills. You can make a charm quilt with a
random number of fabrics or with one that holds a special meaning, like the
year of a birth or wedding. There are also other themes, like fabric from
different states, just cat fabric or events, like the Bicentennial. You have
probably seen quilts done with hexagons out of
"conversation prints", those with pictures of animals, trains,
toys, flowers, etc. These are called "Eye Spy" quilts and are used
for children, sick beds or for long trips. They are great for classrooms and
offices. The maker can include a list with some of the things on the fabric.
The fun begins when the person tries to find the fabric listed.
A common swap quilters use
today is by putting two fabric squares together with wrong sides out and
lightly marking a line diagonally one square. Sew 1/4 inch on both sides of the
marked line. Cut on the marked line. You now have two half square triangles.
Keep one and swap the other. One patch is complete with two different fabrics.
You can use one very light fabric and write your name on it with permanent
ink. Make several of these and use them
for a guild swap. You will then have a "Friendship Quilt".
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy and
have fun with your quilting.
© Robin Brisson 2000