When many people think of patchwork quilts, they picture squares of floral fabric sewn together into blocks, and not much else. While quilts can be made in this manner, patchwork quilting is so much more. There are dozens of types of quilts to make, with the craft truly becoming an art form in some instances. With hundreds of patterns in each type of quilt, the variety is almost endless.
Medallion quilts are often masterpiece quilts made to show off a quilter's talent and skills. The centre of the quilt is one large square or rectangle, frequently in a complex design. This is surrounded by row after row of pieced blocks in often increasing intricacy. The entire quilt is pulled together by using a uniform colour scheme throughout the piece.
A sampler quilt shows off many quilting and stitching skills, as no two blocks are the same. The blocks in this quilt are often set apart by strips of fabric called sashing, which have the effect of isolating each block from the others. Some sampler quilts are relatively simple, with 12 larger quilt blocks making up the top. Others, like the Dear Jane quilt and Farmer's Wife quilt, are very elaborate, with dozens of small blocks making up a quilt masterpiece.
Amish quilts are known not so much for the patchwork pattern as they are for the elegant quilting that hold them together. The Amish are "plain" people, wearing only dark clothing in solid colours. Their quilts are mostly in the same fabrics, although some include brighter solids for accents. These seemingly simple geometric designs are covered in extremely elaborate quilting designs.
Friendship quilts began in pioneer days when groups of friends would each make a block for a quilt, with room in the centre for a printed sentiment. These women would give the quilt to a friend who was moving out west, or to a beloved preacher in the community. Today's friendship quilts are often made by one quilter or a small group, and the blocks are given to people to write their sentiments and good wishes on.
Watercolour quilts are a relatively new type of patchwork quilt design. Large scale floral print fabrics are cut into squares and sewn together with a mind to the tone and scale of the print instead of what the print actually shows. The result is a gauzy looking design much like a scene viewed through a rainy window.