Garden of Eden, Jacobs Ladder, Josephs Coat.
If these sound like terms from Scripture, you are correct in thinking that, however they are also names for easy quilt patterns.
One of the most fascinating aspects about quilt collecting, study and history is discovering the association between quilts and the lives of the women who made them. We see the connection quite clearly by the names that quilt makers have given their quilt patterns.
It seems that every aspect of a woman’s life was honored with a quilt pattern name at one time or another. There are names signifying home and family life as well as names for the environment that the quilt maker lived in. Patterns can be found with names commemorating national and political events, religious beliefs, and even war heroes were not excluded from having a quilt pattern named after them.
Research done on the earliest quilt pattern names and where they originated, has not been overly successful. There are quilt names mentioned in old diaries or journals kept by the women who made quilts. However, the few diaries that do mention a quilt by name, usually fail to describe the quilt or give any hint to what the pattern looked like (much less any type of drawing), leaving us to guess the pattern that the quilter is writing about.
Quilt pattern names reflect all aspects of life. Biblical names reflect the belief and conviction of the importance of a spiritual life, while more down to earth names like Hole in the Barn Door, reflect the environment that the quilt maker lived in. Quilt pattern names that reflect political issues are proof that women were interested in these issues, and that they were knowledgeable of current social events. While their voices may not have been heard at the time, their voices speak out from their work and remain for us to see today. Following are examples of the names quilt makers have given their patterns.
Biblical and Spiritual names include Job’s Tears, Hosanna, Palm Leaf, Bethlehem Star, Cathedral Window, Cross and Crown, Crown of Thorns, and those already mentioned Garden of Eden, Jacobs Ladder, and Josephs Coat, among many others. It’s not known exactly how many quilt patterns and names are in existence today.
Certainly the present quilting revival that began in the 1970s (and is still going strong), with the great number of women and men teaching quiltmaking, writing books, and designing their own patterns will add greatly to the numbers. In addition, the new computer quilt design software, that enables the user to design blocks and quilts, will add significantly to the library of patterns available to today’s quilt maker. Looking back in 20 or more years it will be interesting to see what types of names quilt designers used during these years for their new easy quilt patterns.