World War I Quilts, by Sue Reich, (Schiffer Publishing Ltd.), 176 pages, release date 28 December, 2014
One of the books that sort of slipped in under the radar at the close of 2014 was Sue Reich’s World War I Quilts. For anyone interested in quilting, crafting, or the history of World War I, this book is a wonderful resource. Reich pairs photographs of quilts from the era with newspaper mentions of quilts from the same time: notes about Red Cross quilting fundraisers and blankets for soldiers, pieces claiming a local owns the world record quilt for most pieces. The names of soldiers—both those who returned and those who didn’t—were embroidered on blocks
The early 20th Century was an interesting time for quilts. It saw the first national quilt competitions. It also saw a rise of women entrepreneurs creating and marketing quilt kits. Before this, newspapers published block patterns, but quilters used their own fabrics, rather than ordering fabric selected for a specific design.
At the end of World War I, appliqué quilts were popular—particularly those featuring poppies. This motif served as a reference to Flanders Field, a way to create something beautiful while honoring the dead.
This book is a bit pricey at $39.99, but the ample color photographs justify the expense. To see the quilts in color, to see samples of fabric marketing at the time is a real delight for people like me who are interested both in historical quilts and in making reproduction quilts. While World War I Quilts doesn’t include any quilt patterns, it is still sure to inspire many quilts.