Back to the main Quilters' Guild website

Part 26. Two from Overseas

No 26 - Two from Overseas

Now I know this is the British Quilt Study Group but I am still reviewing and recommending these two books. Both of them are brilliant: heavy and expensive but excellent.

The first one is An Moonen's: A History of Dutch Quilts published in 2008 but translated into English in 2010. This is “the result of twenty years of researching, recording and documenting antique Dutch quilts” and is a “comprehensive insight into the distinctive history of them”.  An has also written the bilingual Quilts: The Dutch Tradition (1992) and 't Is al beddegoet (1996) and has “revisited their contents with much additional and new information”. Essentially her new book is a detailed and scholarly history of quilts followed by a catalogue of quilts in full colour; over two hundred pages. She starts with a Foreword, Contents Page, a five-page Introduction covering misunderstandings and research into quilts. Part 1 (eighty-eight pages) has five chapters: An Early History of Quilts, The Seventeenth Century, Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth Century and Twentieth Century, all subdivided e.g. Cotton Printing in Holland (2 pages), Quilting Patterns (1 page). All readable, well-illustrated and referenced. This part ends with Notes, Appendixes (Seventeenth century Dutch Inventories in America and a reprint of Mosaic patchwork from Aglajia 1851) and a three-page Bibliography plus Photograph Credits.

Part 2 is: A Selection of Antique Dutch Quilts, seventy-one quilts as beautifully illustrated two page spreads. For each, a full-page photograph facing a description and a close-up or picture of the backing or both. Every quilt has its list: provenance, batting material, backing fabric and Museum number if applicable. The first quilt shown is from 1670, the newest 1960; the majority are from before 1850 and lots of lovely early chintz quilts.

Both An's earlier books are now unobtainable, even second-hand so snap up this one while you can; work of this calibre is rare and to my mind, the Dutch traditions are nearer our own history than America's are.

The second book is Annette Gero’s: The Fabric of Society, Australia's Quilt Heritage from Convict Times to 1960. Another excellent book and a splendid format: the ubiquitous patterns (by Kim Mclean) are discretely put in an A4 envelope stuck to the inside back cover. Here are four large, double sided pattern sheets and a CD containing layouts / instructions for each of twenty-nine quilts from the book. If the quilt has a pattern there is a discrete bold note at the end of the description. This is a most elegant solution to combining a serious scholarly account with a “how-to make your own” section, I hope it will be copied when publishers insist on patterns.

The Fabric of Society begins with Acknowledgements, a two-page Introduction and then six chapters trace a chronological account of Australia's quilting history. First is The Fabric of the Early Colonies-with English origins-(forty eight pages), through The Fabric of Wealth and National Pride (sixty eight pages), The Fabric of War (thirty pages), The Fabric of Indigenous Patchwork (two pages), The Fabric of the Early 20th Century (thirty-eight pages), to The Fabric of the Wagga and Wonderful Stories (thirty-four pages). All chapters follow the same format; a brief three-page overview and then the story told through the quilts, one or two to a page. There is a one-page Bibliography and Further Reading, another three pages for the Index and an Introduction to the Patterns (one page) and an Index of Quilts and Quilt Patterns (two pages).

The book is large so with the quality paper used for the beautiful colour printing it becomes monumental and this is reflected in its price; but I am still recommending it. Quality scholarship will outlast so many of “his week’s current fashion” books.


The Fabric of Society, Australia's Quilt Heritage from Convict Times to 1960 by Annette Gero is published by The Beagle Press (Sydney), 2008, ISBN 978 0 947349 54. It is available from her website, or in England, SewGoodBooks had it for £135.00 and free delivery see No one else had it.

The English version of A History of Dutch Quilts by An Moonen is published by Van Gruting (Utrecht) 2010, ISBN 97890 75879 544. I ordered direct from the publishers: and paid 48.50 euros-39.00 plus - through PayPal but on their website they took credit cards as well. It was all very easy and efficient however the book can be ordered through a bookseller (who will also charge postage I expect).

Other books by these authors

Quilts, een Nederlandse traditie (Quilts, the Dutch Tradition) is An Moonen's bilingual catalogue of quilts from the Netherlands Open-Air Museum, (Nederland Openluchtmuseum) 1992 ISBN 90 70300 06 0. Twenty-four pages of history then seventy-three quilts pictured in colour, all the text is in Dutch and English.

This makes 'tis al Beddegoet, Nederlandse Antique Quilts 1650-1900 by An Moomen (Terra) 1996, ISBN 90-6255-661-2 understandable at a basic level, twelve pages of history and seventy quilts pictured and described. But all in Dutch.

An's new book updates these two volumes but if you find either of them I would snap them up.

Annette Gero has also written Historic Australian Quilts (Beagle Press 2000), thirteen pages of history and forty-one quilts to accompany an exhibition held in Parramatta 2000, ISBN0 9587192 92.

Now a pertinent question from our Editor made me realise how sloppy I was becoming with giving details of book availability. I often quote Abe as a source;- this is shorthand for a website:  www. Originally the Australian Book Exchange, they now act as a portal for thousands of booksellers, who stock everything from cheap paperbacks to rare editions. If you go to their site you can enter author/title etc and up will come the books available, each from a different seller and at different prices, new and used. You can set the listing as cheapest first/England first and so on to help you decide which to buy. Then you go to the individual seller to see further details of the book but you buy through ABE. Considering I live within walking distance of two new, one second hand, two cut-price bookshops and innumerable charity shops, I use them constantly for price and availability. They also offer an Avid Reader Newsletter, it is worth signing up for this, not terribly intrusive and they send the occasional 10% off coupon.

In the interests of balance, I will also say Amazon run a portal on similar lines;, go to Books, however I have found Abe to be wider ranging and usually cheaper.

Next time: some (cheaper) fabric books.

© Brigid J.Ockelton. 2011

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.