Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Details: Amish Inspired Roman Stripe Quilt


Amish Inspired Roman Stripe Quilt

I think it is important to show quilts in our homes in use, and for what they were intentionally created for--both warmth and beauty. This picture was not staged because I would have been a bit more careful with a dirty box full of sweet corn from the field, but was that a pretty sight when I opened the front door! Now let me tell you about the process of making this very traditional, Roman stripe quilt. 



All In One Afternoon 

The Roman stripe is a quick project. It is easy to understand why it would be a favorite of any quilter as it can use up a variety of strips in many colors and sizes.

The palette of bright solids with black sateen I chose is similar to what the Amish in this area of the Midwest, Tuscarawas and Holmes counties of Ohio might have used decades ago. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania Amish and other colonies had their own preferences and slight differences, and did not use the same color range, and definitely not bright yellows as were so often here. There is an explanation of color analysis in this paper I found quite interesting. Colours In Old Amish Quilts 

Several people I showed this project to during construction were rather confused. It did not look like something I would make. (I believe it is my first using all solids, and first using black as a background color so they were right.) It took a small leap of faith when I started it, but I found it was more familiar than I had imagined. The colors were all ones I remember Amish classmates and friends wearing while I was a child. I do not remember them dressing in true red, but I do remember seeing it in their homes when we would play. In many ways, this was a very nostalgic project for me.




Construction Method for a Finished 40" x 53"
Baby Quilt or Wall Hanging
8" Blocks
2.5" Chinese Coin Border
5.5" Side & 7.5" Top/Bottom Borders



1. Cut the black sateen into 9" squares then cut diagonally. This little extra will give you room to square up before assembling center section.

2. Choose 5 strips of fabric about 1 5/8" x  20" long that alternate light and dark in value next to each other, and sew several sections together. Press seams in one direction with out steam. Spray starch is beneficial.

3. Using a large flying geese ruler, HST ruler, or any square ruler at least 9" or larger, cut half square triangles of the strips. Follow the directions for your specialty ruler. There are many online tutorials on You Tube for foundation pieced string blocks, but I chose to do it as frugally as possible with strips only. I also did not want to hand quilt through another layer.

4. Sew the stripped HSTs with the black sateen HSTs into complete blocks as seen above.

5. Arrange the blocks to please your eye, and sew together.

6. Square the inner HST blocks unit. It is more important that this section is square than if it measures exactly 24.5" x 32.5". 

7. The Chinese coin borders were made with the leftover solid strips. I also used irregular strips within this inner border to add to the charm and keep it organic. 

Sew strips into pairs, and continue to pair up pieced units until you have the needed length for sides and ends. (To find: Measure opposite sides and average the length. Trim inner block unit or Chinese coin border as necessary.) Trim pieced borders into 3" widths, and sew border to assembled 8" HST blocks unit. 

8. Square finished section.

9. Chose your own method of adding borders to determine each length. I added top and bottom borders first, then side borders. (The side borders required piecing 2 strips together.) Take your own measurement from your finished section as you did with the Chinese coin border. Add 6" widths of fabric to finish at 5.5" side borders, and 8" to finish as 7.5" top and bottom borders. 

This finished top size should fit nicely with most packaged batting made for a crib quilt (approximately 45" x 60") allowing the extra batting needed for hand, machine, or long arm quilting.

10. Quilt as desired.





I used this variegated Sulky thread to hand quilt in a traditional method with small stitches, and a cotton/bamboo batting.


Using traditional style stencil motifs still in my stash from 30 years ago, I chalked on the marks. A PVC lap frame made it portable, and with dedication it was done within a week.


The inner block sections were stitched in the ditch as I had seen often in this old pattern. I really enjoyed watching the variegated thread show up differently on all the solids. Light or dark, this seemed to be a good choice.


It has been some time since I have hand quilted in this style, and I was quite forgiving to myself. To make it even more difficult, every little stitch showed up on the solid black backing.


Early Amish quilters in this area were not known for intensely stitched quilts as were the early Lancaster Amish. For what reason, I do not know for sure, but our early quilts seemed to have more open spaces. Perhaps it was a time saver or maybe for extra loft and warmth. Maybe it was more frugal to use less thread. Regardless, it was how things were done, and so I followed their lead.


The finishing touch was an aqua binding. To all you who will ask, Yes, I did hand sew it!


You can not see all the beautiful colors in this recovering hummingbird, but they were magnificent, and as varied as this quilt. While I quilted away on the back porch, this little guy flew into my window stunning himself. I rescued him from the curious Doxies, and held him nearly half an hour. When he was ready to take off, I let him go! And he promptly flew straight up into a skylight! Seriously? No good deed goes unpunished!

I hauled out the huge ladder and the pool skimmer--I have done this job before, you know, and carefully trapped him on the edge before getting him out of there. Sweating and cranky 15 minutes later, he flew back into his world a free bird.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.



10 comments:

  1. Who was hot and sweaty after 15 minutes I want to know . You or the hummingbird ? I love your quilt Julie . I love reading the history of old quilts and traditional quilting but it doesn't fit into my modern home . This modern take on a traditional style does .

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  2. All over a beautiful quilt. Simple, elegant, and an artwork. The hummingbird is gorgeous.

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  3. Absolutely love the colors! Beautiful quilt!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your process. It turned out beautifully. I can't believe you hand quilted it in a week. Kudos.

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  5. Excellent and thorough post. That blue is just the right color for the binding.

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  6. gorgeous quilt. Like you I believe in using my quilts. They get thrown over the sofa's and beds. Used in the garden as picnic quilts and even in my yoga class as my mat

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  7. Your quilt is beautiful. The hand quilting was the perfect finishing touch. I love Amish quilts with all the vibrant colors...you captured the essence of that!

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  8. You finished it, its gorgeous, simple and so effective. I really enjoyed reading about the history and your thought process too.

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  9. Love all the color! Congrats on a beautiful finish.

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