Inking A Civil War-Era Friendship Quilt


Inking a Civil-War Era Friendship Quilt

From Divided Hearts: A Civil War Friendship Quilt by Barbara Brackman


Class Description
Gain confidence in your reproduction quiltmaking techniques in a drawing class where you'll ink traditional flourishes, names and sentiments on fabric perfect to stitch into your album blocks. Learn the basics and then some about how to get the look and how to make it permanent. We'll use the trace-able patterns in Divided Hearts for inspiration.


You'll leave class with a few inked squares you can use to wow your friends with signatures for group quilts and you'll improve your label-making design and skills for your own quilt backs (and fronts.)


Class Length

For the drawing class 2 hours; if you want to add piecing make it 3.


Class Supply List

  • Required text: Divided Hearts: A Civil War Friendship Quilt

  • An 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of washed white fabric backed with freezer paper. (Make these yourself to hand out or sell or have them bring one or two---we can get at least 4 vignettes on each sheet.

  • A sheet of tracing paper (again have them bring it or supply it.)

  • A permanent pen (Use what you sell or see options below*.) Give them black and brown options and colored choices of different widths to buy.


Classroom Preparation

This is a drawing class, not a sewing class (although you could link it to pieced blocks in Divided Hearts. Blocks 1, 5, 11 & 12 are good for inking.)

  • A light table to share would be nice to have but not necessary.

  • Several irons as you want to heat set the inking.


Class Agenda

1) Introduce the traditional idea of inking, popular about 1840 to 1880. People love accurate historical information so you might want to read up on what kinds of inks people used before the Civil War and why they sometimes deteriorate. 


2) Show some examples (plenty in the book Divided Hearts)

3) Students also love accurate comparison shopping information so you might want to read up on the different kinds of permanent pens available today.

    Basics---Don't use a Laundry Marker, they fade.

        Heat set the finished inking.

    Here's a link:

4) Have each student choose and trace four of the inked drawings in the book. For beginners: Pages 17 & 36. For more confident inkers: Pages 80 & 86.

5) It's hard to trace fabric from a book, so trace the flourish from book onto tracing paper and then place fabric on the tracing paper. This gives a chance to practice drawing and they can take the paper home to trace again.

6) Space the flourishes out on the fabric. Tell them to remove the freezer paper, heat set and trim as necessary for block centers or labels.


*Suggested Markers

Most shops carry Pigma Micron pens and these work great. But do have students heat set the inked flourishes  in class or at home (Some recommend waiting 24 hours to apply a hot iron for a minute or so.) Width: 05 is fine, but do notice that some of the flourishes use two line widths and some a thicker point.

Another option: Pentel Arts Gel Roller for Fabric. Heat setting never hurts.


We’ve got a Facebook group for the Divided Hearts/Antebellum Album quilts. Ask to join. We'd love to have you.