Great Lakes Seaway Trail

Great Lakes Seaway Trail 2012 Quilt Show & War of 1812 Quilt Challenge
A War of 1812 Commemorative Bicentennial Activity

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail 2012 Quilt Show, held on March 17 and 18, 2012, was a great success – a real quilting event! Interpreters dressed in historically-correct 1800’s period fashions welcome guests to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. The show venue expanded to include the Seaway Trail Discovery Center – built in 1817-18 - plus two additional historic buildings on West Main Street in Sackets Harbor, NY. The three sites featured quilts, vendors and demonstrators both days.

Follow our War of 1812 Quilt Challenge Blog:

Follow the excitement and get all the up-to-date information with our weekly blog posts as the Great Lakes Seaway Trail embarks on our War of 1812 Quilt Challenge - it promises to be a "once in 200 years" international opportunity. Go to:

You may also enjoy following the 1812 quilt blog of quilt historian Barbara Brackman at:

Read our War of 1812 Quilt Challenge Newsletter:

Click here to read our 1812 Quilt Challenge Summer Newsletter

Size of the Completed Quilt:  

The size of your completed quilt must be 30 inches wide by 70 inches high for “Cot to Coffin” This size may vary 2 inches either way. Please refer to our blog for the complete explaination of why we decided on this particular size:

Quilt Pattern and Design Options:

Early Quilt Patterns
Very little is known of named quilt patterns from the War of 1812 / Regency era.  Limited references to early quilts are found in diaries, but rarely do the dairies ever say what the pattern of the quilt was called or even what the quilt looked like. In fact, the very first quilt pattern published wasn’t until 1835 when "Godey's Lady's Book" printed a pattern for the “Honeycomb” pattern in their magazine.

Quilt Historian Barbara Brackman suggests that a quilt in medallion or strip format would be a good design. "Patterns that were popular at the time were simple stars and basic nine-patch and four-patch variations. If you are thinking about domestic prints the best colors might be indigo blues, browns and a touch of pink. The War cut into our imports but well-to-do women at the time had their stashes of imported French, English and Indian chintzes and calicoes in a variety of colors. They loved to mix large-scale and small-scale prints."

Fabric Choices:

Period Colors:


If you have any questions or comments or want to find out more about the challenge please send an email to:


Photos of circa 1812 quilt patterns suggested by Quilt Historian Barbara Brackman

In our continued correspondence with Quilt Historian Barbara Brackman she has kindly shared some links to museum collections of quilts that are attributed to the first and second decade of the 19th century.

We have also researched the museums and found lots of great inspiration for patterns, fabrics and colours - check out the details at the various museum websites listed below:

Silk, Wool and Cotton Quilt from the Winterthur collections
Provenance Pennsylvania made between 1817 and 1830

Wool Stripe Quilt from the Winterthur collections
Provenance Maine or Mass. between 1800 and 1830




















Quilt made from Silk, Wool, Cotton, Linen and NEWSPAPER!  
Provenance Hallowell, Maine made between 1795 and 1815












A strip quilt in the characteristic limited color scheme from Patricia Melton Smith's collection in the Smithsonian.

A Nine Patch by Anna Hixson in the collection of the DAR Museum in similar colors. Photo from the Quilt Index.

An embroidered quilt with a pieced wool (calimanco) border. It's hard to know from the digital catalog entry if this quilt is actually dated 1812, which would put it in the next decade, but it is certainly the kind of quilt we'd expect to see in the 1800-1809 era. The quilt is from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.


The Smithsonian's Hewson quilt

A medallion with a swag from the Winterthur

And another from the Winterthur


More museum quilts to use for reference to the 1812 era!

While researching for our 1812 quilt challenge project we have come across some great quilts to use for inspiration for fabrics and patterns in various museum collections including this circa 1790-1810 Winterthur medallion quilt:

And this medallion quilt from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum:

Also from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum is this bar/stripey quilt with chintz and nine patch blocks circa 1800 to 1820.
Plus this double Irish chain possibly from Pennsylvania between 1800 - 1820 from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum

Or how about a circa 1800-1820 quilt possibly made in Eastern Pennsylvania also from the collections of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.



Four Patch
99 1/2" x 104"  Cotton with cotton filling

This Massachusetts   quilt contains copperplate prints, probably of English manufacture, some calicos, glazed chintz and India prints.   

Michagan State University Museum Accession 1998:53.37.  Photo by Pearl Yee Wong



Framed Square
95" x 100"  Cotton with cotton filling
This early New England quilt seems to have been made with random scraps, but, as can be seen here, was carefully organized. The cut-out corners indicate that it was made for a four poster bed.

 Michagan State University Museum Accession  1998:53.39.  Photo by KEVA.

Provenance unknown - circa 1800
79 1/2" x 91"  Cotton, wool filling

Very little is know about this wholecloth quilt but wouldn't it look great in some of the reproduction fabric lines coming out for the War of 1812 bicentennial like Moda's Lately Arrived from London by Barbara Brackman or some of the new Andover reproduction prints.

Michagan State University Museum Accession 2007:107.1.   Photo by Pearl Yee Wong


Sunburst with Mariner's Compass
Circa 1800-1830 
86" x 86" 

Within this New England quilt can be found a wonderful collection of early printed cotton fabrics.

Michagan State University Museum Accession 1998:53.99.  Photo by KEVA.


Please feel free to email us and share any museum collection quilts or other quilts from the War of 1812 / Regency Era that you have researched.    

Early 1800’s Quilt Reference and Resource List:

America’s Printed Fabrics 1770—1890 by Barbara Brackman (2004)

Quilt historian Barbara Brackman has a reproduction collection of prints from the era. Moda's "Lately Arrived from London" should be in quilt shops at the end of the summer 2011.

Encyclopedia of Appliqué by Barbara Brackman (2009)

Mastering Quilt Marketing by Pepper Cory (1991)

American Patchwork & Quilting, June, August & December (2004)

Quilting Designs from the Past 1810-1940 by Jenny Carr Kinney (2008)

The 1776 Quilt by Pam Holland (2007)

Novelist Jane Austen:,

The Lincoln Museum Quilt: A Reproduction of Abe’s Frontier Family by Barbara Brackman and Deb Rowden (2008)

America’s Printed Fabrics 1770—1890 by Barbara Brackman (2004)

1812 Challenge Sponsor:

This special quilt challenge is sponsored Orleans County Tourism, Moda Fabrics and by the Seaway Trail Foundation, Inc. in commemoration of the military history of the 518-mile-wide Great Lakes Seaway Trail region and the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.

For More Information:

Call: 315-646-1000 x203 or you may send an Email to: