By: Joan Gagne

While the history of quilting is fraught with many examples of possible origins dating back as far as biblical times with the story of Josephs 'Coat of Many Colors', it is generally agreed that the more traditional American/European had it's start with the patchwork quilts in the 1780's. Patchwork quilts in essence were quilting for the beginner, in that scraps of cloth were sewn together to provide clothing and blankets as a matter of scarcity and necessity. The very first patchwork quilts used for blankets were layers of cloth sewn together with a few strong running stitches.

These primitive patchwork quilts according to the history of quilting resembled the thick and cumbersome pallets which were slept upon. Due to the difficulty in stitching the many layers together the quilting frame was invented. Progress in technology deeply affected the number and styles of patchwork quilts made during the middle years of the 1800s. The industrial revolution, the turning point in the history of quilting brought about the most dramatic change as textiles came to be manufactured on a broad scale. This meant women no longer had to spend time spinning and weaving to provide fabric for their family's needs. By the 1840s the textile industry had grown to the point that commercial fabrics were affordable to almost every family. As a result quilting for beginners became widespread.

Another major shift in the history of quilting was in the style of patchwork quilts made. Although a few earlier quilts were made in the block style, quilts made up of blocks were uncommon until around the 1840s. With so many fabrics being manufactured quilting for beginners created their blocks with a delightful variety of fabrics. During this period the invention and availability of the sewing machine contributed to the history of quilting. In 1856 The Singer Company started the installment plan so that more families could afford a sewing machine. Many patterns were created with the beginning quilter in mind. By the 1870s a good many households owned a sewing machine. This affected patchwork quilt making in two ways. First of all women could make clothing for their family in much less time, leaving more time for patchwork quilt making. Secondly they could use their sewing machines to make all or part of their patchwork quilts. More often the sewing machine was used to piece nine patch quilts but occasionally the patchwork quilting was done with the sewing machine.

This made it possible for quilting for the beginner to advance from the crude patchwork designs to the more unique quilting block styles, such as this nine patch quilt called a shoo fly. While there are many hundreds of variations of the nine patch quilt, the shoo fly is great quilting for the beginner to start out with. As for the history of quilting the shoo fly nine patch quilt, it appears first around the 1870's. You will notice that there are 2 basic shapes, a square and a triangle which will be 2 important permanent rotary cutter templates that will be used in quilting other nine patch quilts for beginner to expert. The shoo fly is named after a child's rocker having the seat built between two flat sides cut in the shape of an animal.

Never before in the history of quilting, have the techniques used for this pattern been used for quilting with the beginner in mind. Most experienced quilters will tell you when they did their first nine patch quilt like the shoo fly, they learned how to cut a square in half diagonally once or twice in order to get their half-square triangles. However, this method is not accurate mathematically and with one wrong move, you could wind up with two (2) or four (4) different sizes. It is difficult to place the ruler diagonally in the exact center of each corner while preventing the material from moving or splitting apart, when having to cut twice on the diagonal.

Every quilter knows that cutting strips are not always an exact science. Sometimes it is hard to read the same measurement time after time, and to continually have to re-align the edges as the material starts getting off the mark after so many cuts. When I did my own first nine patch quilt, I would often open up the strip only to discover that I had a "wave" in the middle of the strip from inaccurate folding. It was after many years of trial and error that I came up with these exclusive techniques and quilting secrets that will have you quilting your own award winning nine patch quilt in no time.

There will be no guessing games when it comes to setting shapes together, as you will cut all the points with the permanent rotary cutter template material for easy piecing, which eliminates the "dog ears" and makes the margin of error practically non-existent. You will also be able to slash your preparation time in half so you can have more time and greater satisfaction to create more beautiful quilts.

About the author:

Joan Gagne is the Unique Quilter who has developed secret quilting techniques, and discovered a new permanent rotary cutter template material that makes even the most difficult patterns a snap to make. She can be reached at, or visit her website a

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