This Month in Quilt History: September

It turns out September is an important month in quilt history: from the invention of the lockstitch sewing machine to the first issue of Quilters Newsletter to the recognition of art quilting by a leading American newspaper, this is a month that has witnessed major developments in our favorite pastime.

Here are some historical tidbits taken from the Design Wall and Bulletin Board pages of different issues of QN from the past few years.

Sept 1846 DW This Month in Quilt History: September

On September 10, 1846, Elias Howe Jr. was awarded patent number 4,750 in the United States for his practical sewing machine. It sewed 250 stitches a minute and could outsew five seamstresses. Howe later successfully sued Isaac Singer (perhaps you’ve heard the name?) for copyright infringement; his copyright expired in 1867, the same year he died.


Sept 1916 DW This Month in Quilt History: September

1916 Psychiatrist William Rush Dunton Jr. organized a quilt exhibit at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson, Maryland. Believing hobbies essential to mental health, he hoped to interest patients in quiltmaking.

Dunton was not only a pioneer in the field of occupational therapy but a quilter himself — he is said to have started quilting in 1915 — who self-published a book in 1946 entitled Old Quilts that’s now a collectors item.


Sept 1969 DW This Month in Quilt History: September

1969 Bonnie Leman published the first issue of Quilters Newsletter. A single issue cost 35¢ and a six-issue subscription was $1.75.

You can’t make this stuff up: the very first issue of QN was printed on September 21, the same day that Bonnie gave birth to her seventh child. This means that our 47th birthday is just three weeks away (as is Matthew’s) — hard to believe! We celebrated our 45th anniversary in 2014 and published a free pattern for Moon Flowers, the applique pillow that appeared on that first black-and-white cover, in conjunction with the August/September issue. The block pattern is available for free download from our website.


Sept 1984 DW This Month in Quilt History: September

1984 The musical Quilters opened on Broadway September 25. After just 24 performances, the production earned five Tony nominations. The libretto, written by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, was based on the book The Quilters: Women and Domestic Art by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen. Quilters is set in the West in the late 1800s and early 1900s and is the story of pioneer women who gather to create a legacy quilt. Originally developed and produced by the Denver Center Theatre Company in 1982, Quilters has since been performed all over the United States.

Click here to view the Playbill for the original Broadway production.


Sept 1992 DW This Month in Quilt History: September

1992 The Wall Street Journal printed an article about art quilter Nancy Crow. Gail King wrote, “Quilts produced as art by people trained as artists are a fledgling art form, even though the art/craft of quilting is ancient.”

Nancy Crow continues to be a highly influential and active figure in the quilt world; click here to visit her website and see what she’s up to these days.

QNAS16Cover 200 This Month in Quilt History: SeptemberFor more about what’s happened this month in quilt history, be sure to get your copy of the August/September 2016 issue of Quilters Newsletterwhich is still available on newsstands, in quilt shops and bookstores, and at in both print and digital editions!

As always, to find out about Quilters Newsletter’s giveaways, quilting news, tips, techniques and more, visit us on Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+,  Pinterest,  Instagram,  YouTube, and our website. Plus, see  Web Seminars on and classes, courses and workshops on  Craft and

About Mary Kate Karr-Petras

Mary Kate is an associate editor at Quilters Newsletter. If you ask her what type of quilter she considers herself, she'll answer, "Slow." Favorite techniques include hand quilting, both traditional and big stitch, but she also loves her walking foot and keeps meaning to get better acquainted with her open-toe embroidery foot.
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One Response to This Month in Quilt History: September

  1. Pingback: Saturday Morning Quilt Break: September in Quilt History | Quilty Pleasures Blog

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