Quilt Story Project: The Beginning


Between now and Fall Paducah in September, we would like to invite you on a special creative adventure. Each week we will offer you ideas, techniques, blocks, and embellishments to help you tell your quilt story in stitches.

Each week as we all work on our quilts, we will share a little of the AQS quilt story with you along with a sample that reflects the AQS quilt story. We invite you to share your progress too. Several of us will be sharing our work in Instagram (an app you can use on your tablet or smart phone) using the #myquiltstory hashtag. You can also share your progress by posting pictures on Facebook and tagging American Quilters Society in the post. You are also welcome to share any pictures with us directly and we will add them here to the project pages, simply email socialmedia@americanquilter.com

Just as a story has words that grow into sentences that become paragraphs, our quilts will grow bit by bit from blocks to units to sections. The quilt construction will be organic rather than a set design so there isn’t a finished pattern or design to kick things off. In the same respect, there isn’t a set size or shape.

Last week we started with a worksheet to help us gather our thoughts…

Week One: My Quilt Story Worksheet

This week we start at the beginning, the beginning of the project and the beginning of the story. Let’s start with the project.

Week Two: The Beginning

Where did it all start for you? Use the first few questions from the worksheet to jog your memory. Jot down people, places, and projects that come to mind. You can keep these ideas in a project journal or write them on post it notes and stick them to your design wall (any wall will do!) Begin to think about how you might represent these things in your story quilt.


Revisiting Your First Quilt Block

Remember the first quilt block you made? If not, think back to the first one you can remember. Take a few minutes to recreate your first block. If you decide not to include it in your quilt later you can include it in your journal.

Here are a few simple steps to recreate a pieced block from a drawing:

  • Draw your block the size you want for your story quilt on graph paper. This is a finished size drawing.
  • Cut apart the shapes for the block on the drawn lines. These are your templates.
  • Lay a shape on the backside of your fabric and trace around it.
  • Cut the shape out adding a 1/4″ outside of the drawn line.
  • Use the drawn line as a sewing guide to sew your shapes together.

Where did your quilting journey begin? For AQS it all began with a quilt show…

In 1983 Meredith and Bill Schroeder, already avid collectors and publishers of books for collectors, headed south to Bell Buckle, Tennessee, barely a dot on the map, for a national quilt show. Though over 400 quilts were hung for the show, they didn’t expect the thousands of people who poured into the exhibit. It was a groundswell of enthusiasm unlike anything Bill and Meredith had seen in all their years of collecting. The moment was not lost on the Schroeders.

Within a year, Meredith announced the formation of the American Quilter’s Society. Her goal was to develop a group that “gave national recognition to the quilters and their work” and “to set the standard in the industry.” In the first year, 1,500 quilters became charter members.

In April of 1985, the American Quilter’s Society held its first quilt show and contest in Paducah, Kentucky. Five thousand people showed up. The Schroeders underwrote the first-ever quilt show with cash prizes, offering $10,000 for the Best of Show award. This was the beginning.

Award-Winning Quilts & Their Makers Vol 1: 1985-1987

We all began somewhere, what is your story?

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Vou Best

My quilt story began when I designed Desert Shield quilt published by House of White Birches. It was followed by Desert Storm. I’m still waiting to finish the close of this conflict quilt.

Vou Best

My quilt story began when I designed the Desert Shield quilt pattern published by House of White Birches. It was followed by the publication of Desert Storm. I’m still waiting to finalize the pattern depicting the close of this conflict.

Elizabeth A Monahan

My quilt story began when one of my daughters asked me to make a cross-stitch quilt kit for her room. Two years later we moved to Ireland where I chanced to meet an American quilter, Helen Hardesty, who now lived in Galway. She had a group that met every Thursday morning to work on their quilts and she encouraged me to come. And when I was finished (with the help of another daughter) with the cross-stitching, she taught me how to quilt. By the time ten years later when my family and I returned to the States, I had become… Read more »

Agnes Vowels

My story started at age 7 when I first started sewing. I was making my own clothes by age 13. When my Grandmother found out that I was planning to marry, she was shocked that I had not made a quilt. In December, after I had pieced a top, she stayed at our house until we had hand quilted it on 100 year old quilt frames. That planted the bug. But with working and no machine available, sewing was put on hold for 2 years when my husband gave me a sewing machine for Christmas. The next quilt for was… Read more »

Reta Haube

I have not seen or been a part of this project but it very much parallels a quilt project I have designed and am working on when I can fit it in. It is called “The Fabric of my Life”. I have not accomplished much of the piecing but have been journaling, sketching, etc. Different parts of the quilt. I have also collected fabrics, memorabilia and some embroidery designs to use on the quilt. I have quite a few ribbons that I have won for quilts and paintings that I plan to use for borders. Since I am doing this… Read more »


My quilting story began when I went to a craft sunday workshop at the Dundee Contemporary Arts and made a mini quilt for my brother who had turned 75.