Urban Amish


First—kudos to Ron Bedard for his wonderful (if accidental) quilt—“The Flip Side.”

Some of you may have heard the back story on this quilt so excuse me as I repeat it here. Ron made a quilt for his niece as a graduation from college present. In it he used many of the fabrics you see in The Flip Side. But to be honest, purple isn’t one of Ron’s favorite colors, so he didn’t want to add this stuff to his stash. Instead he decided to use the scraps to piece a back for his niece’s quilt. When he came by to drop it off for Sally (our fabulous long-arm quilter!) I saw the back—and flipped out! I loved this quilt so much, I talked Ron into using a solid backing on the niece’s quilt and quilting this pieced back separately. (Then I convinced him to lend it to me for the shop—and he did!!!!)

Thank you Ron, and thank you for inspiring my students and customers who’ve seen this quilt and want to recreate it. I’m moving it up to the window this weekend so more people can see it as they walk by the shop.

Now you might think—random strip piecing—easy enough, right? Well, in this case—no! Ron’s quilt is actually an engineering feat requiring quite a bit of math—that’s right I said math—as in left brain thinking, planning and execution—in other words, lots of work. I decided to create a more beginner friendly version—something a little more right brain oriented—random—fluid—and super easy! Thus—“Urban Amish” was born.


Amish quilts have been described as plain and simple—but the truth is that while the solid colors may read “plain”—the bold design composition and actual quilting are anything but simple.

The traditional solid colors used by these women reflected the Amish culture of frugality and modesty. In fact Amish women were discouraged from indulging in the worldly practice of piecing small pieces of colorful print fabric together because it was considered too decorative. Instead they did what many other quilters before them did—they worked with what they had on hand—piecing scraps of the dark wool fabrics left over from their own garment sewing. The result was truly amazing and so memorable that it is now iconic. When we hear the word “quilt” we often think of the Amish quilts with their bold geometric graphic design lines popping against deeply saturated solid colored fabrics. Many of today’s modern quilts have been inspired by this same sense of simplicity. Who knew the Amish would be trend setters?

My own Urban Amish quilt borrows from the bold (and yes simple) design lines of the traditional Amish quilts—but that’s where we part ways. Instead, my urban interpretation uses big prints in contemporary color ways to pop lots of color, pattern and texture into the quilt top. My motto—if you like the fabric—use it!

Of course solids might would be very interesting too— perhaps another project for another day!


“Urban Amish” is now one of three patterns I’m using to teach basic patchwork construction in the beginning quilting class. The September class is starting next week on Tuesday the 4th. There are still a couple of spaces left in the class—so if you want to join us—call or email me soon.




Here's a photo of Christina--making her second Urban Amish--and scaling it up to Queen Size.  You go girl!

Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 10:49AM by Registered CommenterQuiltology | CommentsPost a Comment