Introducing Quilting Through Stories: The Seasons Sewn

Cover art for The Seasons Sewn

Image source: Ann Whitford Paul's website

In addition to the growing list of references in our Education Resources page, our chapter blog will also look at how we can encourage new and younger folks to become interested in sewing and improving their sewing skills.

My young niece loves the idea of the stories behind quilts. I think this came from her mowing through my childhood set of Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Throughout the series, Laura and Mary are tucked warm and cozy under the quilt that Ma made.

During a recent trip to the library, I cam across this book, The Seasons Sewn — A Year in Patchwork, written by Ann Whitford Paul and illustrated by Michael McCurdy. The Seasons Sewn is a children’s book and uses quilt patterns to explain the seasonal flow of life in our country during the 19th Century.

The Seasons Sewn is not a true historical account of how quilt pattern names were derived. In fact, as the author writes that many quilt blocks have more than one name because back in the day, the only way a sewist recorded a quilt block pattern was by memory from when she saw the quilt block until she could return home to cut out her fabric and piece the block together. So the pattern may be slightly different as well as the name.

Inside page of The Seasons Sewn

Image source: Ann Whitford Paul's website

What this book does do well, with its wonderful illustrations, is romanticize the history of the quilts. It brings to life a story of how the quilt pattern could have come about. The author imagines that someone playing the tag game of Fox and Geese in the snow might have been inspired to work the pattern where you can almost imagine the path of the “fox” chasing the “geese” within the game’s boundaries onto the block. Follow the seams of the block and imagine you’re the fox chasing the geese. Each block is described in one paragraph, which makes for easy reading with younger audiences.

The illustrations are slightly reminiscent of Little House’s Garth Williams color illustrations, but a little more primitive. On each page, there is both an illustration of a single block and one of four blocks together to give you an idea of the overall effect that would be on a quilt. These make excellent springboards for young quilting minds to copy. Or maybe come up with their own block design.

The Sewn Seasons is recognized with the following literary awards:

  • Winner of the 1996 Carl Sandburg Literary Arts Award for Children’s Literature
  • 1996 NAPPA Award
  • One of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books for 1996
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Book of 1996

Ms. Paul wrote another quilt block book titled Eight Hands Round where she imagines the American pioneer origins of 26 quilt blocks, one for each letter of the alphabet.

Ann Whitford Paul was born in Evanston, IL.

Do you know of any other books that are helpful to introduce quilting to children or new sewists? Let us know by leaving a comment.

If you’d like to share a book on the blog to the rest of our ASG Chicago chapter and our dear readers from other areas, leave a comment or drop me an email.

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2 Responses

  1. My two favorite quilting books are : Start Quilting with Alex Anderson: Six Projects for First-Time Quilters and the Complete Guide to Quilting By Better Homes & Gardens. Both books are filled with valuable hints and really great illustrations.

    http://www.murraythemonsterstore.com/
    http://murraythemonster.wordpress.com/

    • Thanks for the additional book resources! I love watching Alex Anderson’s show.

      Great username, murraythemonster!

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