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Amish Quilt Designs & Patterns of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Updated on February 5, 2014

Amish Quilting Means Comforting, Exquisite, Simple, Bold, and Intricate Quilts

I love Amish quilts. I love quilting too. As an eternally creative (and yet somehow logical) wife, mom, and lawyer, who loves quilting, art, gardening, baking, reading, hanging out with my husband, and playing with and teaching my daughter, I spend very little time on my quilting hobby. When I do, it's usually with unbridled enthusiasm and intricate designs.

Amish quilt designs are known by many names - center diamond, log cabin, sunshine and shadow, and more - here you'll find a discussion of all of these amish quilt designs. Did you know that there's a difference between the Amish Quilt Designs (for the quilt) and the Amish Quilting Patterns(for the intricate quilting stitches)? Read on and find out!

This is a Squidoo lens that any quilter can get inspired by, and any spouse of a quilt-addict can come to learn why. My husband says that I love quilting because it's a perfect combination of art and math - which defines me almost to a "T". As you might surmise, along with quilting - and appreciating fine quilting - I also love those other things in life that are "comforting" - watching birds flutter around the yard, eating rhubarb, reading books (under a good quilt of course), playing board games, and baking comfort food for those I love.

You'll even find some info about Lancaster County, PA (the heart of the country's Amish community), and other delights that bring us comfort - such as Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.

Log Cabin

The Log Cabin block is made from sewing strips onto sides of a square - round and round and round the square. Two of the sides of the square are dark strips, and two sides are light strips. The only tricky part is to be sure to sew them on in the right order.

Once all the blocks are made (each block is about 12"), then they are arranged - edge to edge - to form different patterns.

The "Barn Raising" pattern creates a concentric diamond sort of pattern. Barn Raising is my favorite. It's the pattern I used for my 2000 piece quilt that's on my bed.

"Courthouse steps" creates - you guessed it - a step sort of pattern.

Then, there are pineapple shapes - which can also be turned into windmill shapes.

Start Here

If you want to make a quilt in an Amish pattern - Start here. Eleanor Burns will help you do it in the simplest way possible, and she's a lot of fun to have as a teacher!

Quilt in a Day: Log Cabin Pattern
Quilt in a Day: Log Cabin Pattern

Eleanor Burns is awesome at making quilts simple and fun! I love how she tosses the scraps over her shoulder. And, there is soooo much you can do with a Log Cabin block. So, if you're new to quilting, this is the perfect teacher to start with, and the perfect design too!

 

Rachel Pellman's Classic Books

If you want the definitive source on Amish quilts and quilting, get one of Rachel Pellman's books. You'll learn about the Amish while you're learning about quilting - and Rachel explains simply yet powerfully how the Amish's core beliefs inform and contribute to their quilt-making.

Of course, quilt-making pre-dates the Amish, and American quilt-making tradition and influence spans the country from coast to coast. However, the Amish do - have have for many years - bring not only a specific style, but also an excellence and artistry to the art and tradition of quiltmaking, in a way that few other people - as a group - have done.

Where is Rachel Pellman's "The World of Amish Quilts"?

Why isn't Rachel Pellman's most famous classic listed above? Well, it was published in 1981, and people sometimes sell them on Amazon or eBay. But, for some reason these copies' cover images are not connected with the link.

"The World of Amish Quilts" is absolutely fabulous. It has over 240 full-color plates of absolutely exquisite Amish quilts, in which you can not only take in the beauty of the quilt top fabric design, but also see and appreciate the depth and detail of the hand-quilting designs too. It is so rare that a photograph - never mind over 240 of them - captures the 3-dimensional qualities of beautifully made Amish quilts. If you truly want to absorb the artistry that is Amish quilting, then you must get it. If you are a quilter, you probably already have it on your bookshelf and use it for inspiration from time to time, like I do.

Amish Center Diamond or Diamond in a Square

I find no other Amish quilt design more striking, bold, and yet intricate, than the Diamond in a Square.

It is actually not a diamond, but a square tipped "on point," then surrounded on each side by large triangles, thus forming the "Square" of it's title, and then surrounded by one or more borders, which may be continuous, or interrupted in the corners by corner blocks.

The beauty of the Diamond in the Square pattern lies not only in the simplicity of the lines and solid bold colors of the fabric and quilt design, but, and more importantly for me, in the intricately detailed quilting stitches.

The quilt pattern/design refers to the cutting and sewing together ("piecing") of the various shaped pieces of fabrics that create the part of the quilt (the quilt "top") that you see.

The quiltING pattern/design refers to the tiny stitches that bind the "top" and the middle cotton "batting" and the "backing" together into a quilt sandwich. Of course, originally, the utilitarian purpose of the spacing and placement of these stitches was to ensure that the inner cotton batting (which, years ago, was more like tufts of cotton, than the consistent uniform sheet of cotton in which batting comes to quilters these days). These quiltING patterns/designs often are another level and dimension to the quilt, and create intricate beautiful detailed swirls or stars or feathers or other motif, thus bringing complexity and artisanship to the stark and bold simplicity of Amish quilts. The juxtaposition is stunning.

Because the Diamond in a Square quilt pattern calls for such large pieces of fabric, and thus results in large swaths of color and uninterrupted fabric expanses, the quilter therefore has a huge playground of area to create a beautiful hand-quiltING work of art.

Many Diamond in a Square quilts contain a quiltING design in the centeral "Diamond" of a feathered wreath containing a detailed eight-pointed star. For those of us not so skilled, we might be satisfied with a feathered wreath filled with a uniform cross-hatch pattern of straight lines.

[This picture accompanies a quilt pattern for an Amish Center Diamond quilt, which any avid fan and quilter of traditional Amish quilts would love, including myself, and the complete pattern is available from QuiltersWarehouse.com here for under $10.]

Every Home Deserves a Handmade Quilt

(made by hand could also mean sewn by machine by an individual - but not mass produced with factory machines)

If you're going to buy a quilt, get a handmade Amish quilt - or make one yourself. But, whatever you do, stay clear of the manufactured "quilts" that you can find online or in home d├ęcor stores.

I could offer a lot more quilts on this Squidoo lens (I actually spent hours looking for great quilts for this lens before making this lens) if I included those manufactured "quilts," but I just can't bring myself to do so because they're just not good for you. Y'know, I'm a positive person and I like to avoid the word "not" (see my Don't Busters Squidoo lens) - and I just used it twice in one sentence - so let me rephrase that:

I choose to offer you only real handmade non-manufactured quilts because they are the only kind that offer you the true inner warm and comfort that a quilt is all about! (There, I feel better now - saying things positively always works better.)

Machines take cheap printed cotton (there is a wide variety in the quality of 100% cottons that can be used in a quilt - think of it this way - you know the huge difference between 100 count cotton sheets and 400 count cotton sheets? - same thing), put some polyester fill between it, and run a few big swirls of polyester/nylon "thread" through it with a huge machine, and call it a quilt. That's not a quilt - it's a form of a cheap bedspread, and far, far from being a quilt.

A quilt is a few, or a lot, of beautiful pieces of high quality 100% cotton careful sewn together into a compelling design (the "quilt top"), which is then layered on top of 100% cotton batting for warmth and comfort, which lays on top of a complimentary backing made of the same high quality cotton as the top. Then it is pinned and set, and stitched together - by hand or sewing maching - in tiny closely quilted hand-quilting stitches, or intricate or linear machine quilting in a pattern suited to the quilting top design, and in such a wonderful density, that when you wrap it around you, you are instantly warmed, comforted, and soothed - it is neither cardboard (from over-stitching) nor is it air (from under-stitching).

[Yep, that's another manulao4 photo . I'd love to know if she made these herself or acquired them!]

Amish Sunshine and Shadow Quilt Pattern

The Amish Sunshine and Stars quilt pattern is the picture that you see on the cover of Rachel Pellman's "The World of Amish Quilts," which is the picture at the top of this Squidoo lens.

Usually, the quilting stitches in this style quilt is not the swirling feathers or wreaths that you see in the center diamond quilts. Rather, these quilting designs are straight lines running through the corners of the squares. Why? Because quilting stitches are so small and delicate that it's difficult enough to send the needle through the 3 layers (the top, middle batting, and backing), so that it's nearly impossible to send it through those 3 layers PLUS the seam allowance - which is around every edge of a seam where 2 pieces of fabric meet. So, with a Sunshine and Shadow pattern, there are TONS of seams - there's a seam every couple of inches - so there's really no room to do lots of intricate swirly designs with the quilting stitches.

Plus, the straight lines running diagonally through the corners of the individual squares reinforces the over-all "diamond" (or square tipped on point) layout of the design, and thus, works with the design by creating concentric diamonds in the quilting stitches.

Obviously, the name Sunshine and Shadow refers to the movement of light in the quilt between the different ranges and brightnesses of color. And of course, on a farm, you feel the effects of sunshine and shadow daily - the movement of the sun over the garden and the crops, the long morning and evening shadows from the structures and trees, etc. And, in an Amish community, where the effects of 21st century technology is not a part of life, then one might better appreciate and respect the good and bad, the life and death, the full and empty, of life.

What makes a quilt a Sunshine and Shadow pattern? Well, first, the rings of concentric diamonds are made from the same color fabrics. For example, this quilt has a diamond of orange, then green, then light green, then turquoise blue, then purple, then dark purple, then dark red, then pink - thus, taking you in the color scheme from a dark to a light to a dark color again.

Second, the fabrics are solid colors (not prints). Third, in an Amish Sunshine and Shadow quilt, the concentric diamond section is usually surrounded by wide border (which would be stitched with the swirly feathery quilting stitches), and sometimes a narrow border between the diamond section and the wide border. In the picture, you are only seeing the concentric diamond portion of a much larger quilt.

Lots of women - who are not Amish - love to make this quilt design, but we have other names for it. Usually, when we make this design, we choose from a whole range of fabrics - maybe prints, maybe batik sort of designs, maybe a specific color scheme, maybe a flower scheme, etc. The key to this design is the pattern of squares of all the same fabrics that go around to form the concentric diamonds. Second, while non-Amish quilters might put a border around the concentric diamond part, it's not necessary to the quilt design. We (non-Amish) call this design (without the solid colors and the wide border) a "TRIP AROUND THE WORLD."

A variation on this pattern is this - look closely at the picture, you will see that while the squares form a diamond pattern by the way that they are sewn together, the actual individual squares are sitting on their sides and sewn together in strips, or rows, and then the rows sit horizontally on top of each other - just one square "off" so that it forms the diamond pattern.

Now, if you were to change that - if you were to take the individual square of fabric and tip it onto its point, and then put each orange square point-to-point-to-point, surrounded by another row of green squares set point-to-point-to-point, then the overall pattern would be a square or rectangle (rather than an overall diamond pattern). Cool, isn't it? In non-Amish quilting, that "rectangular" pattern is called, "BOSTON COMMONS."

What type of quilters love this Sunshine and Shadow pattern or Trip Around the World or Boston Commons pattern? Well, there are at least 2 types - (1) frugal quilters - who have lots of scraps that they want to put to use, (2) simple drama quilters - who love the dramatic effects of a simple pattern.

Sunshine and Shadow Quilts for Sale

These may or may not be made by the Amish.

But, if you don't yet have a quilt in your home, and you want a quilt but don't have the time or inclination to make one, and you want to spend less than the average price of an Amish quilt, and you would feel better about using a less expensive quilt in case something drops on it, then GET YOURSELF A QUILT!

Every home needs a quilt - and every home needs a quilt that they ACTUALLY USE - TO SNUGGLE, READ BEDTIME STORIES IN, SOOTHE A BROKEN HEART IN, WATCH A MOVIE, PLAY A GAME, AND READ A WONDERFUL BOOK IN. So, GET YOURSELF A QUILT.

ENJOY THESE QUILTS!

What's Your Quilt Status?

Do you have a quilt at home?

See results

The Perfect Wedding Gift

Quilts are my favorite gifts - and especially so for weddings. Quilts symbolize warmth and acceptance and cozy, happy spirits - perfect for a couple who have just committed themselves to each other!

Check out which quilt to get for your upcoming wedding love-birds. :)

2 Movies that Remind me of the Essence of the Comfort & Love of a Handmade Quilt - The Notebook & Casablanca

If you've seen the movies and snuggled under a quilt, you know why. If you haven't, then get a quilt, snuggle under it, turn out the lights, get the warm rhubarb pie and ice cream, and watch the bitter-sweetness of love, romance and life unfold.

Want one of these quilts for a Birthday, Anniversary, Mother's Day, Father's Day or Christmas Gift?

Then, EMAIL THIS PAGE to your dear husband/wife, adult child, parent, friend, or other person most likely to act upon your gift request.

That way, when Mother's Day or your birthday or Christmas comes around (whichever is first), they will know EXACTLY what to get you!

HOW do you email this page?

SIMPLY CLICK ON THE "EMAIL" little picture near the top of the lens, on the right hand side, where all those "bookmark" thing-a-ma-jingies are!

[This photo is by tsaiware and is here on Flickr. Tsaiwarehas some great photos!]

New Amish Quilts versus Antique Amish Quilts

If you don't have a quilt in your house, or want to give one as a gift, or you want another quilt, then a new Amish quilt (made by the Amish), or a new Amish design quilt (made by the non-Amish but in the form of a traditional Amish design) is a joy and a comfort.

Get a quilt that you can use - which means getting a new quilt, rather than an antique Amish quilt.

Hardly anyone uses an antique quilt. Why? Because they're more of an investment than a useful item, and thus, are usually expensive and kept on a rack, or in a "safe" place..

With a new quilt, you can usually wash it in the washing machine (gentle cycle), and you can let the babies, children and grandchild crawl all over it - even with their sippy cups, crayons and graham crackers.

Quilts are made to wrap around you as you read a favorite book to a child.

Quilts are made to great you when you walk into your sanctuary - your bedroom - after a long exhausting day.

Quilts are made to comfort you when the damp and the cold begin to seep beyond your bones and into your spirit.

Quilts are made to enjoy while watching a favorite team or a favorite movie.

Quilts are made to be USED!

So, here are some quilts that were NEWLY made, and were made to be used NOW, by YOU, and were made BEAUTIFULLY!

Ahhh, yes, all is well when function meets fashion.

Quilt Puzzles!

Woohoooo!

Amish Winter Jigsaw Puzzle
Amish Winter Jigsaw Puzzle

I love puzzles - and I bet you know someone who does too! For example, if you're married, and you don't like puzzles, chances are that your spouse DOES! The colors in this puzzle really pop! It's beautiful enough to frame.

 
The Quilting Show Circuit 1000pc Jigsaw Puzzle by Jeri Landers
The Quilting Show Circuit 1000pc Jigsaw Puzzle by Jeri Landers

Chances are that if you love quilts, you might just love puzzles too - something about taking little pieces of something and putting them together into one beautiful picture is so rewarding!

 

Quiting Fiction

Marie Bostwick's fiction involves quilting - which is a huge plus in addition to the very memorable characters and wonderful story-lines.

A Single Thread (Cobbled Court Quilts)
A Single Thread (Cobbled Court Quilts)

I've read all of Marie Bostwick's Cobbled Court series, and I love them! I really connect with the characters - I always miss them when the book ends!

 

Amish Quilt Pattern Books

Have you made a quilt with an Amish quilt pattern? Which pattern book would you most recommend to a fellow quilter?

Amish Baskets

If you want to extend the Amish style into your home, baskets might be just what you're looking for.

2 Awesome Amish Quilting Books

Amish Patterns for Machine Quilting (Dover Quilting)
Amish Patterns for Machine Quilting (Dover Quilting)

Traditional hand-quilted Amish designs are translated into easy-to-use sewing machine patterns. The 83 designs-including flowers, feathers, cables, baskets, stars and more-can be adapted in size, shape or any other aspect. A brief history of the Amish, diagrams and simple instructions are included (patterns can be quilted by hand, too).

 
Amish Circle Quilt
Amish Circle Quilt

With this book, quilters will step into the everyday life of the Amish community and follow the journey of 11 women who maintain their friendships while keeping a record of their lives. Quilters will enjoy the heartwarming stories while following step-by-step instructions for creating their own Amish circle quilt, as well as a baby quilt, wall hanging, table runner and appliquéd aprons and bags.

-Heartwarming stories give readers insight into the Amish community -Instructions for creating and Amish Circle Quilt as well as 8 smaller projects with a similar motif -Full-size color patterns

 

Amish Quilts in Cross-Stitch

If cross-stitching's your thing, or, if you just want to do something different for a change, these Amish Quilt Cross-Stitch kits/patterns are wonderful!

Are you lookin' or doin'?

Does this lens intrique you because you love to look at, collect and use quilts? Or, are you here because you're a quilter and wanted to check out "yet another" quilting website (can we ever get enough)?

BTW, the definition of "quilter" can be something as vague as "have fabric, and am thinking of getting a pattern and sewing a quilt." (wink)

Are you a quilter?

See results

Favorite Christmas Gifts for Your Quilter

Quilting Magazines

Want to spend only a little money but get a whole lot of new quilting inspiration? Getting a boat load of past quilt magazine issues issues at discounted prices is a wonderful find!

Is it how a quilt looks?

Is it how cozy a quilt can be?

Is it the special one-of-a-kind texture?

Tell us why you love quilts or quilting!

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    • geosum profile image

      geosum 4 years ago

      We just spent almost 4 days in Lancaster and enjoyed some of the Amish areas around Intercourse. Their quilt patterns are unique.

    • Im Horse Crazy profile image

      Im Horse Crazy 5 years ago

      I like to quilt sometimes (but I still like horse jumping more - but hey you can't be on a horse ALL the time, right?!).

    • SayGuddaycom profile image

      SayGuddaycom 5 years ago

      Interesting. being from Australia the Amish are very exotic to me.

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 5 years ago

      I love the Amish culture. Still a few left in Maryland I think near me also. Great topic. Congrads on reaching level 53. Just go there myself today. Have a few related to this topic. But I like yours better.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 5 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Someday I would like to learn to quilt. My mom was a quilter, and her mom before her. I still have some of both their quilts.

    • profile image

      ShellB 6 years ago

      Great lens! I love old fashioned looking quilts, although I'm not a fan of Amish color schemes.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      @Diana Wenzel: Here, here! I agree!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Quilts are all about family, home-made love, sleep-overs at grandma's house, and love. :-)

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 6 years ago

      I like quilts for so many reasons. I enjoy making them, using them, and displaying them. Nothing says home like a nice quilt. I drooled all over the quilts in Lancaster County when I was there. I can't wait to go back.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 6 years ago from Concord VA

      I love quilts because they have that comfy, cozy, home feeling. I have one on my bed that I made the top, and my mom finished it.

    • profile image

      jgelien 6 years ago

      I love the look and texture of quilts but what really makes them special is the love and memories and traditions that go into the creating of them. Thanks for a lovely lens.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      I love the Amish quilts having visited them in person. There is some great info here. Angel blessed.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      @Lee Hansen: Pastiche, From the creativity on your lenses, it doesn't surprise me at all that you are a quilter! And, how luck you and your family are to have another quilter in the family who commemorates life's milestones with a quilt!

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      @BuckHawkcenter: BuckHawk, Thanks for the Angel Blessing - I'm soooo glad to hear another quilter enjoyed this lens! :)

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

      I enjoy patchwork and do quite a bit on my machine. My mother is a quilt artist and makes beautiful quilts for all the newlyweds and newborns in our family. She's letting others do the actual quilting these days, but she cuts and pieces every work of art quilt by hand. We live in Berks county, PA where Amish quilting is a cultural fine art that's truly appreciated.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 6 years ago

      From one quilter to another, this is a great lens. Sure enjoyed it and enjoyed hearing some of your story. Angel Blessed* and featured on Angelography.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image
      Author

      TheresaMarkham 6 years ago

      @RhondaAlbom: Rhubarb is Definitely a must-try! Lancaster PA - home of a huge Amish community - has a big Rhubarb festival each May at

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 6 years ago from New Zealand

      I quilt and I love my quilts. I also love to look at other quilts. However, I have never found comfort in Rhubarb - maybe I should give it a try!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Nice information, keep it coming some good things learned here, thanks twin over full bunk bed

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