Patchwork from the past, reimagined on a small scale (+ giveaway!)

“My whole life is in that quilt. It scares me sometimes when I look at it. All my joys and all my sorrows are stitched into those little pieces. When I was proud of the boys and when I was downright angry at them. When the girls annoyed me or when they gave me a warm feeling around my heart. And John too. He was stitched into that quilt and all the thirty years we were married. Sometimes I loved him and sometimes I sat there hating him as I pieced the patches together. So, they are all in that quilt, my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, my loves and hates. I tremble sometimes when I remember what that quilt knows about me.”

—The Standard Book of Quilt Making and Collecting,
Marguerite Ickis, 1949

From A Prairie Journey

We’re grateful to author Kathleen Tracy for sharing her love of history with us, uncovering stories from the past about women and their quilts. That connection continues in Kathleen’s latest book, which we’re thrilled to introduce to you today: A Prairie Journey.

A Prairie Journey

Kathleen presents 13 small quilts that explore ties to the past, each inspired by yesterday’s traditional blocks and today’s reproduction fabrics. You’ll be whisked back to an era when the classic quilt blocks of today were just making their debut.

Projects from A Prairie Journey

You’ll love stitching these small, sweet projects, including Wagon Wheels:

Wagon Wheels quilt

Crossing the Prairie:

Crossing the Prairie quilt

and Welcome Home:

Welcome Home quilt

Or, immerse yourself in the tradition of friendship quilts on a small scale, featuring autographed blocks from family and friends:

Friendship is a Sheltering Tree quilt
Friendship is a Sheltering Tree

Vintage photos and the words of pioneer women from the mid-nineteenth century sprinkled throughout make this beautiful book extra special.

Today Kathleen is our guest writer, here to tell you more about A Prairie Journey.


Kathleen TracyWhen I first became interested in quilting, I fell in love with small antique quilts with their simple, naïve look and their childlike charm. Doll quilts of the past and the scrappy reproduction quilts that were popular then inspired me. They seemed easy enough for me to master, and so I began to make small quilts for my daughter’s dolls and embarked on my quilting journey. Soon after, I became interested in history as well, as a way of finding out what I could about women living in the nineteenth century and the quilts they made.

The six books I’ve written for Martingale have all included my three loves—women’s history, small quilts, and reproduction fabrics. The quilts in A Prairie Journey were inspired by my passion for these. The book tells the story of the settling of the West during the mid-nineteenth century through the words of the women and the pieces of scraps that were stitched into quilts. It was a significant journey for many women in nineteenth-century America.

Aunt Sarah's Scrap Basket quilt
Aunt Sarah’s Scrap Baskets

I always love to include tidbits of history in my books, and you’ll find that making these little quilts with reproduction fabrics and traditional blocks is a way of stitching the past into the present.

The quilts I’ve designed are small and simple. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that quiltmaking doesn’t have to be a complicated art in order to satisfy the soul. Throughout the centuries, quilting has appealed to novices and experts alike. While we may admire a quilt made with fine stitches and complex pieces—some that are true works of art—we can also appreciate the ones that are made simply. And we can still call ourselves quilters if we piece together simple squares into four patches, like women did years ago.

Child's Play quilt
Child’s Play

Whether you’re a beginning quilter or an expert, I hope you’ll take a journey into the past through the quilts and stories in A Prairie JourneyYou can join me in my Small Quilt Lovers Facebook group as we challenge ourselves to make one quilt per month from the book, starting in August.


A Prairie JourneyMany thanks to Kathleen for sharing her passion for the past with us.

We have a lovely new copy of A Prairie Journey to give away to one lucky winner today! To be automatically entered into the drawing, tell us in the comments:

Do you have a connection to past quiltmakers?

We’ll choose a random winner one week from today and let you know by email if you win. Good luck! And if you’re ready to plunge into the past with Kathleen, you can order A Prairie Journey at our website and instantly download the eBook for free.

Comments are closed for this post.

Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The winner is Barbara, who says:

“I don’t know any quilters. I have taught myself by watching Craftsy and YouTube videos. I am on my third queen size quilt and have made two baby quilts for a great niece and a great nephew. I would love to have this book. Thank you.”

We’ll email you about your prize, Barbara—congratulations!


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