7 Historical Quilt Patterns
(Last Updated On: March 16, 2021)


7 Historical Quilt Patterns – When most people think of a quilt, they conjure up images of a large hand-made blanket with decorative square patterns called “blocks”. For years, quilters have made these blankets, not only to provide warmth and comfort but to preserve memories. To make their quilts, women use a variety of colors and patterns. They have also had to use whatever scraps of material they could find. During the Great Depression, women used flour sacks to make quilts. What some may not know is that throughout the years, some quilt patterns had special meanings.

We explore 7 historical quilt patterns you might find in your homes. Discover their historical significance with us.

1. Nine Patch

7 Historical Quilt Patterns - Nine PatchThroughout the 19th century, women who quilted probably learned the skill as a young girl. These young quilters most likely started out using a quilt pattern called Nine Patch. This pattern consisted of 9 equal squares. Nine Patch quilts usually had four squares in each corner and a smaller square in the middle. All of these squares had the same pattern. Another version of the nine-patch quilt contained a large square in the middle and four smaller squares in each corner.

2. Eight Pointed Star

Experienced quilters sometimes made their quilts using an eight-pointed star pattern. To them, a star was a religious symbol that represented their faith in God. They sometimes called this star pattern the “Star of Bethlehem”. This is the star in the Bible that led the shepherds to baby Jesus. Many homesteaders made the journey West with the guidance of stars. In the mid to late 1800s, Native American tribes also used the eight-pointed star pattern for their quilts. They referred to it as the “Morning Star.”

3. Log Cabin

The Log Cabin quilt pattern goes back to the 1860s during the Civil War. The Log Cabin is one of the most widely recognized quilt patterns. Some believe the pattern has a connection to Abraham Lincoln. The center of this pattern is red, which depicts the hearth. Narrow strips of fabric were then sewed around the center square. Log Cabin patterns also utilized light and dark colors to represent the movement of the sun in the sky from east to west.7 Historical Quilt Patterns - Log Cabin

4. Bear Paw

7 Historical Quilt Patterns -Bear ClawThe Bear Paw quilt pattern is exactly what it sounds like. It looks like a giant bear paw. Using this pattern, four bear paws pointed in a different direction. Some quilt enthusiasts believe this pattern was used to help slaves find food and water during their escape in the mid-1800s. The Bear Paw pattern may have helped slaves know they were on the right track.

5. Flying Geese

This is another quilt pattern that may have helped slaves in the mid-1800s escape to safety. This pattern was part of the Underground Railroad Quilt Code, which was a secret communication system. The Flying Geese pattern helped slaves know which direction to follow. When looking at a quilt with this pattern, it’s easy to see how the flying geese look like arrows pointing in a certain direction.

6. Cathedral Windows

7 Historical Quilt Patterns - Cathedral Window QuiltThis quilt pattern became was inspired by the cathedral stain glass windows that popped up in North America around the 1930s. The pattern is used on each quilt block and uses a folded patchwork technique. The result is a beautiful quilt that contains three-dimensional window designs.

7. Snowball

Created by Amish quilters, the snowball pattern creates an optical illusion of circles from a distance. The pattern actually consists of octagons. Beginner quilters often use this pattern to create fun, colorful quilts no matter what the season.

Does reading about quilt patterns inspire you to learn how to quilt? If you already quilt, which pattern is your favorite?

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