Free-Motion Quilting Inspired by Antique Designs

Free-Motion Quilting Inspired by Antique Designs

Posted by Deirdre Quirk on Jul 2nd 2018

Excerpt from Inspired Free-Motion Quilting: 90 Antique Designs Reinterpreted for Today’s Quilter by Bill Volckening and Amanda Leins.


What do you get when you team an award-winning longarm quilter with a collector who has nearly 500 quilts spanning four centuries? A book full of free-motion quilting designs inspired by classic antique textiles.

Four-Block Appliqué Quilt, cottons, unknown maker, Eastern United States, found in Oregon, c. 1850, 73˝ × 73˝

Co-authors Mandy Leins and Bill Volckening live 3,000 miles apart, but they see each other virtually every day on Facebook. They chat about everything from thrift-store finds to the edge-finishing details of early quilts. Both of them see old quilts as a rich source of inspiration. Sometimes they send each other links to auctions and quilts for sale.

“Have you ever seen this pattern before?” asks Mandy, sending a link to a recent eBay auction. “Not sure,” says Bill, “but it looks like a variant on the Chimney Sweep or Album Patch, with the darks and lights in different places.” A few minutes later, Mandy produces several repeat block patterns she created with secondary designs, all from the one inspiration block. Talk about learning things from old quilts!

Candlewick Counterpane, cotton, unknown maker, eastern United States, c. 1825, 83˝ × 86˝

Using the Designs

Each quilt in the collection has interesting and unique features that fit together in a general historical context. After exploring the selection of continuous-line quilting designs, you can use them as a jumping-off point to look at antique quilts more closely and do your own exploring and creating—designs can either be chosen from one single quilt or a variety can be mixed and matched.

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