The Amish 1890 Cheater Quilt

The Amish 1890 Cheater Quilt ©2020 Leah Sorensen-Hayes

My favorite part of the quiltmaking process is stitching the top, batting, and backing together. I turn on an audio book, park it in front of the sewing machine, and zone out while I fill in the quilting lines. It’s so relaxing. (I use a walking foot exclusively as I’ve tried free-motion quilting and find it to be the exact opposite of relaxing.) The part of the quilting process that I don’t find quite as enjoyable is marking the quilt lines before quilting. 1. I haven’t found a single marking tool that is satisfactory. 2. It’s difficult to get the motifs to fit perfectly. 3. If I simply echo the piecing or appliqué, the results are boring. So! I designed a cheater quilt with the quilting lines baked right in.

I adore lavish quilting patterns like feathers, pinstripes, and wreaths, and if I’m going to go to all the trouble of quilting, I want the quilt lines to show up. They tend to disappear on highly detailed fabric patterns, so I prefer to quilt over solid colors. For my cheater quilt maiden voyage, I went with an Amish-style quilt based loosely on a quilt pictured in A Treasury of Amish Quilts, written by Rachel and Kenneth Pellman in 1990. The original was made of wool about 130 years ago in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. My color selection was borrowed from this quilt, but I brought in different quilting patterns.

I designed the quilt to be printed at Spoonflower on their Petal Signature Cotton, which measures 42 inches wide. As Amish “Center Diamond” quilts are typically square in shape, I engineered my quilt to fit a yard of fabric, so a 36-inch measurement was predetermined. I filled the remaining six inches with a solid pumpkin color to match the outermost border. The extra little bit can be used to make a complete, single-layer, straight-grain binding. No additional fabric necessary.

The quilt in its digital form (left) and hanging on my design wall after it arrived from Spoonflower (right).
Detail of the printed quilt top.
My basting process: 1. tape backing fabric to cutting table; 2. square up quilt top; 3. pin baste in place.
Quilting in progress. Yay! The lines in the fabric were easy to see, but once I stitched over them, they disappeared.
I was able to find three spools of Gutermann’s 100% cotton thread that almost perfectly matched the three colors in the quilt: Pumpkin #4970, Celery #8975, and Camel #2620.
Detail of the completed quilt.
Quilting finished and four single-layer, straight-grained binding strips cut from remaining 6” of pumpkin fabric.
Binding in progress. The four strips are stitched together to create one long strip that will encircle the entire quilt: 1. stitch strips end to end; 2. trim seams to ¼”; 3. press seams open.
The binding was machine sewn to the quilt’s front using ¼” seam and the miter method at the corners. Then it was folded, wrapped to the back, and pinned into place. Ready for hand stitching.

Because of uneven shrinkage (the width tends to shrink more than the length), after washing and quilting, the final quilt measures 35” x 34”. Not exactly square, but close enough. The Amish 1890 Cheater Quilt can be found in my Spoonflower shop. The three colors I used in the quilt—pumpkin, celery, and camel—are available as solids, and I created a few coordinating fabrics for backing and binding, as well as a couple of tea towels because I was having so much fun playing with the color palette. You can find the entire collection here. Happy quilting!

The Amish 1890 collection at Spoonflower: 1. Amish 1890 Stripe; 2. Amish 1890 Stripes & Diamonds; 3. Amish 1890 Block Setting; 4. Amish 1890 Tea Towel Symmetrical; 5. Amish 1890 Tea Towel Asymmetrical.

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