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Part 16. Traditional Quilting Templates

Part 16 - Traditional Quilting Templates

The books in this review are mostly collections of traditional English and Welsh quilting motifs- although a few modern designs do creep in.  A “techniques” book is included but I shall begin with a rarity, a book I suggest you avoid.  It is A Collection of Durham Quilts by Muriel Martin in the Milner Craft Series, published in Australia in 2000.  The blurb sounds wonderful….”A rich mix of tradition and living designthe basic techniques of Durham quilting are clearly described”; unfortunately they are not.  For instance: the photographs and captions of a running quilting stitch and chain stitchare reversed, also the quilting is being done with what looks like two strands of floss. “Then worked into step by-step instructions for each project”: sufficient to say there are no usable quilting templates in the book, either to copy or enlarge.  “The projects are presented amidst a creatively textured format”: this may be the unexpected illustrations of lemons, cream jugs, biscuits, pieces of embroidery etc scattered through the pages.  “Intended to lead the reader into experimenting with design “: though without much considered input from Muriel. Her two cushion designs are acceptable but the table runner and several of the five quilts are somewhat spotty.  Furthermore, it is written in a chummy, first person style and sprinkled with exclamation marks that make for an uneasy read, her County Durham roots and quilting pedigree notwithstanding.  I really wish to draw your attention to this book as I feel it is a title that might well come up on some Google search or suchlike for Durham Quilts and it does sound good, I should hate you to waste your money. However my next book is a little gem, Dorothy Osler’s Quilting Design Sourcebook.  This is spirally bound inside a paper cover so in use the pages lie flat.  She begins with a one page Introduction, the two pages on Quilting Design Patterns, Colour, Symmetry, Space and Style are followed by four pages on How To Use The Patterns; Reorienting, Enlarging and Reducing, Varying and Adapting, and Combining. Eighty pages with thirty-five patterns follow, including three designs for quilt centres. The book ends with six pages of Quilting Supplies and Techniques: Marking, Batting, Basting Hand Quilting and Machine Quilting. There is a one page Bibliography (English and American) a one page About the Author and a one page Pattern Index. Her Pattern Library is divided into Circles and Stars, Feathers Fans and Ferns, Leaves and Flowers and Miscellany. As Dorothy says in her introduction ”some patterns are traditional, some are ancient decorative motifs and some are original ideas. They can be used on quilts large and small….cushions and wall hangings”. Useful details are given with the patterns for the appropriate enlargement/reduction to fit given suitable dimensions for example, a 6” block, 10” block and a 12” block.

This is a book without wasted words, though to “read the histories of different quilting motifs and whole-cloth quilts from the author’s native England” as quoted on the cover in any depth you would need to look elsewhere - Dorothy’s own North Country Quilts (Batsford 1997) would be ideal.

Now for some books purely of templates: Lilian Hedley’s Traditional North Country Quilting Templates are just that, no text but fifteen or so templates, indexed and “intended to assist Quilters in designing North Country Quilts. “These templates are printed onto light A4 card spirally bound.  Book 1 includes a Feathered Heart, Weardale Wheel, Flat Iron and a full-sizes border Feather Twist; Book 2 has Rams Horns, several Flowers and Feathers. Her third book is called A Tribute to Mrs Yellowley  and is an A3 book, again spirally bound. Included are the feather and other templates to mark the wholecloth quilt sketched on the cover.  Lilian has dedicated this book to “all the unsung club quilters who received no recognition in their own lifetime but we are giving them some now”, Mrs Yellowley died at seventy-five having quilted all her life without spectacles.

Barbara Chainey has produced several books of quilting patterns and two of quilting and appliqué patterns. All these consist of twenty or so A2 (landscape) pages, spirally bound with no text.  Egyptian Treasures and Inspired by Egypt are quilting and appliqué patterns “inspired by traditional textiles from the Street of the Tentmakers in Cairo”, and are intricate designs, annotated where necessary with sizesand other comments. Her three other books of quilting templates are Feathers, Cables & Roses (a miscellany of traditional style quilting patterns), Simply Feathers, (Classic style quilting designs for blocks & borders) and Flowers and Leaves.

If you would like a book with more information of how to use these patterns and /or how to mark the cloth and actually quilt, I would recommend Barbara Chainey’s classic: The Essential Quilter.  This excellent book takes you through Introduction, History and Tradition, Equipment, fabrics and marking, Tacking, quilting and finishing, Quilting, patchwork and appliqué, Different types of quilting, Design sources and principles, Feathers and cables, Designing for yourself and Quilt care.  Each of these chapters is about ten pages long: those on designing are twice that length.  As is usual for David and Charles publications the book is nicely produced and well illustrated throughout with black and white line drawings plus splendid colour photographs of quilts, both antique and new.  Their provenance is noted in the one page Acknowledgements. A one page Selected Bibliography, three pages of Useful Addresses (worldwide) and a one page Index end the book. Well worth every penny; using this and a book of templates you can be away on your very own quilt.

If you feel you would like more background on traditional templates, quilts and their history, can I refer you to earlier book reviews in Culcita: issues 2, 3 and 4 plus the Subject Index in issue 12.


Quilting Design Sourcebook by Dorothy Osler was published by That Patchwork Place (U.S.A.) in 1996, ISBN 1 56477 152 0 as a paperback. It is now out of print but Amazon has used copies from £18.00.

The Essential Quilter by Barbara Chainey was published by David and Charles (Newton Abbot) as a hardback in 1993, ISBN 0 7153 9985 3 and as a paperback in 1997, ISBN 0 1753 0569 7. The paperback is still in print. Hardback copies seem to appear sometimes at remainder prices e.g. New Book People.

Barbara has her own website with her self-published/printed pattern books for sale at £10 each. . Find it at  They are also available at the same price on the Cotton Patch website ,

Traditional North Country Quilting Templates Book 1 and 2 by Lilian Hedley cost £6.50 each, and A Tribute to Mrs Yellowley costs £9.95. These are self published and available from Lilian at shows and her website

© Brigid J.Ockelton. 2006

PLEASE NOTE - An indication is given of the availability and market price of the book at the time of writing and may not reflect today's availability and price. Equally, some website links may also now be out of date.