Quilter's Academy Vol. 5 Preview: What Exactly Is a Medallion Quilt?

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It's almost here! The long-awaited Quilter's Academy Vol. 5–Masters Year comes out in December, and it's all about the medallion quilt. And true to what you've come to expect from Harriet and Carrie Hargrave's belief in the importance of building a solid skill set and empowering quilters to design their own quilted masterpieces, they start from the ground up with Class 510: What Exactly Is a Medallion Quilt? 

Think you know? Think again! By taking us a journey from the medallion quilt's origins in Indian palampores all the way up to modern medallion quilts, and showing us the wide variety of techniques that medallion quilts can encompass along the way, Harriet and Carrie expand your notion of what a medallion quilt can be. Below you'll find a sneak peek at some of the quilts they cover and be able to visually trace their progression through the years–and hopefully find some inspiration for your own medallion quilts!

Above, clockwise from upper left corner: Whole Cloth Palampore, Collection of Winterthur Museum; Robinson Crusoe 1790-1820, by Frances Brook, Valentine Museum, Richmond, Virginia; Counterpane, 1782 (Philadelphia), appliquéd in palampore style. Collection of Winterthur Museum; Framed medallion quilt, 1825-1835, each border using flamboyant patterned fabric. The Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, Washington, D.C.

Medallion quilts were originally inspired by Indian palampores, single large chintz printed panels used as coverlets for beds. By the 1700s, a combination of bans, reduced trade with India, and high importation costs had made palampores very expensive and hard to obtain, so women began recreating the look using Broderie Perse and patterned fabric. Even these early medallions show a great variety in styles!

Above, clockwise from upper left corner: Tree of Life, 1820, very little Broderie Perse, more piecing and quilting. The Daughter of the American Revolution Museum, Washington, D.C.; Framed medallion, 1840, Virginia Quilt Museum; Unfinished pieced bedcover, 1790-1800, 54˝ x 55˝, Courtesy of Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union; Framed medallion, 1794-1817 (northern Virginia), by Martha Harness. The Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, Washington, D.C.

Over time, medallion quilts began to incorporate less Broderie Perse and and more piecing and quilting. Later medallion quilts were generally entirely piecing, with no appliqué, and were finished with dense, intricate quilting, like the quilts on the upper right and bottom left. 


Above, clockwise from upper left corner: Blue center square-in-square medallion, 1940, from Harriet's collection; Ray of Light, 1977, 84˝ x 94˝, by Jinny Beyer; Blue Medallion, 1984, 64˝ x 84˝, by Harriet Hargrave; Through an Open Window, 2006, 87˝ x 85˝, designed and quilted by Lorie Stubbs, Lakewood, Colorado. 

All the quilts above are from the 20th and 21st centuries and show how it has been interpreted in the modern era. Jinny Beyer sparked a medallion quilt revival in the 1980s with her book The Art and Technique of Creating Medallion Quilts and her fabric lines designed specifically for use in medallion quilts, which led to elaborately pieced centers and coordinating borders. Gorgeous!

I hope you enjoyed your whirlwind visual tour through the history of medallion quilts! Here's a sneak peek at what you'll find in the rest of the book:

Class 520: The Basics of Planning a Medallion Quilt

Class 530: Beginner Medallion Quilts

Class 540: Intermediate Beginner Medallion Quilts

Class 550: Intermediate Medallion Quilts

Class 560: Advanced Medallion Quilts

Class 570: Using Actual Antique Quilts

Class 580: Using Photographs of Antique Quilts

Class 590: Border Designs and Techniques

Ready to get started with medallion quilts? You can pre-order your copy of  Quilter's Academy Vol. 5 right here!

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  • Carrie Hargrave
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