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Friendship & Album Quilts : A Little History

Friendship & Album Quilts : A Little History

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15 Ladies Album Quilt 72dpi

As Ladies Album fabrics by Barbara Brackman is shipping to stores, we thought we would ask Barbara to share with us a little history about Friendship and Album quilts.

Moda has two new collections celebrating friendship or album quilts. Barbara Brackman has Ladies' Album and the latest from Lynn Hagemeier at Kansas Troubles is called Token of Friendship. Those Kansans think alike and their collections will mix and match nicely if you are thinking of making a friendship quilt with a vintage flavor.

1 sarah a white

Sarah A .White must have had a stencil to sign her name.


2 hannah

"Hannah A. Barber, Mountholley VT," used pen and ink, the most common signature technique in the first fifty years of album quilts.


3 -8283-11 w woman

Quilters have been making fabric albums since about 1840, inspired by the paper friendship albums held so dear.

4 mollies


5 Album Block1

Both names,  "album quilt" and "friendship quilt," go back to the nineteenth century. "Album quilt" might be the older name as in an 1848 account of prizes at a New York fair.  Mrs. William Hill won $1, second prize for" an ingenious Album quilt," perhaps like this classic album pattern.

6 ---8287-18 and woman

Barbara has been collecting photographs of women posed  with albums and other important books.

7 tis sweet to be remembered

Barbara has found many sweet sentiments inscribed on old blocks.

"Tis sweet to be remembered, Caroline Yearborough, Buckingham, 1848"

8--1853-8 southernstates

Quilters favored several patterns just for album quilts. This Southern quilt in a design sometimes called Chimney Sweep is from the 1850s and similar to the Free Pattern for the Ladies's Album collection. (See below)

9 --8281-13 w woman

"An album quilt is a pretty idea." Godey's Lady's Book, 1857

"Remember your friend, Nannie G. Reed, April 5th, 1875"

The name friendship quilt  might be a little newer, with references to that name at the end of the century. In 1880, Jennie Smith wrote a memory about  her quilts and the "little scraps that compose a friendship quilt...I could name the owner or contributor of almost every piece in them."

Call them album quilts, friendship quilts or signature quilts, they are a joy to make and to receive.

11 BeckyBrown PortsmouthStar

Barbara's friend Becky Brown has been using the Ladies's Album line to make some very romantic model blocks for Barbara's 2014 Block of the Month sampler, Threads of Memory. See her Civil War Quilts blog.

12 BeckyBrown3 NewGarden

Fabrics from Ladies Album collection

13 BeckyBrown Mercer County


14 crosstitch

Cross stitch is seen on the earliest album quilts between 1840 and 1870.

Mrs. AHB from Raton, New Mexico wrote of the social events in her neighborhood in 1898:

We have had a number of pleasant afternoons of late at the several homes of our Sisters, spending our time working on a "friendship quilt." A complete surprise...given Sister Parker.

[We] went to her home unannounced, each taking something in the way of refreshments and spent the evening."

15 Ladies Album Quilt 72dpi

Ladies Album Project Sheet

Click here for a free pattern:

She writes several blogs and shares a wealth of information on any topic quilting. One of her newest projects is the Austen Family Album.  Each Sunday morning beginning April 6, 2014 Barbara will be sharing a 12" quilt block with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life. Collect all 36 blocks.




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