Colonial and Post Colonial Quilt Kits: Americana


The two North American nations of Canada and  the United States of America celebrate their national holidays this week. In honour of this fact, and because there appears to be some confusion about “Colonial” style or “Americana”  as it relates to quilts and quiltmaking, my post will be on that topic today.

In the twenty or so years leading up to the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1776, Great Britain had emerged as the major player in North America; Spain had been restricted to some of the Caribbean Islands, Central America (and part of the present state of Texas) and parts of South America; while France’s claim to control a large part of North America from Quebec running down through Detroit and the Mississipi  Valley to the Gulf of Mexico ended on the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City in 1758.

At that time, Britain controlled all 14 (note there were 14, not 13)colonies primarily on the eastern seaboard or very close to it and accessible by major rivers. Trade and the political and social influences were slanted in favour of Britain and the ruling classes regarded England as their home, and the source of all good things.

Since communication was mainly by sea, it was no problem to have a contact in London or another major port in Britain, who acted as a personal buyer – sending out house furnishings, decorative items, books, ladies fashions and men’s tailored items, periodicals and so on; and who looked out for young people sent “home” to study. Britain also controlled the amount of and quality of North American manufacture to protect their own manufacturers,  who sent goods into the ‘colonies’ and in return Britain imported raw materials: salt fish, lumber, indigo, rice, cotton, tobacco etc.

During this period of time the “Age of Enlightenment” had dawned in Europe and shone the light of knowledge on all sorts of areas : the classical period, Greek and Roman democracy, art and architecture, science and religion. One of the major side effects of this movement was  the unification of smaller principalities into larger national entities, and the rise of somewhat more democratic states  - the stage was set for the transfer of these ideas to North America.

A note: prior to the outbreak of the revolutionary war  in 1776 decorartive arts were firmly based in European traditions – you will see later how this affected bed coverings – quilts, if you will - but now to finish the brief history of an event which shaped the future of the North American continent.

The major issues at the root of the revolutionary war were the issues of taxation and a political system imposed from outside by outsiders to govern a people who were beginning to have little in common with those who governed them…..  A factor in the outbreak was the fact that as settlers came, they were at first drawn from the most oppressed and disenfranchised of Europeans – the landless, those who were of the wrong religion and the people uprooted by generations of war. Those who survived the first few years of hardship, malnutrition and cold in North America were the strongest and most able to learn from their new environment – thus a new national group was developing who had little attachment to anything other than their North American homes, land and families as they fought to govern themselves.

I noted earlier, there was a 14th colony -  the most northerly of them all – this was Nova Scotia, my home. Since 1710, mainland Nova Scotia (which is strategically located on a large peninsula jutting into the North Atlantic)  had been ruled by England but many of her settlers came directly fromNew England to exploit the fisheries, settle the cleared and fertile lands emptied by the expulsion of French Acadian settlers who had been here since the mid 1600’s, and to act as merchants at the naval and army outpost of halifax.

These people happily settled in here, but maintaned their contacts with the colonies to the south of us, and when the revolutionary war broke out there were more than a few people  favourable to the cause of the young would-be nation. Nova Scotia was asked to send a delegate to the Convention in Phiadelphia and it was a near thing we didn’t revolt  too – the main reason seeming to be the cheery willingness of New Englanders to range along our coasts coming into small ports and stealing all that wasn’t nailed down – that jinxed things and gave the British time to regain control and stamp out  the movement here.

To make a long story much shorter, Nova Scotia remained a British colony which took in many of the United Empire Loyalists (as they were called this side of the border),   and Canada remained  British: North American Provinces after the dust settled – much later, we saw fit to become a nation as late as 1867 when Britain, faced with monstrous debts incurred by Ontario and Quebec due to railroads forced the entry of Ontario and Quebec, and the districts to the north and west of those provinces into what was at that point simply a planned atlantic provinces  union – the rest as they say, is history…. but our arm was certainly twisted to help Britain avoid responsibility for these huge debts.


What then, of bed coverings during the “colonial” period in North America? Basically there were two kinds – one kind was bedhangings and spreads to enhance the homes of the wealthy; and the other was blankets or quilts made of whatever materials might be found at hand, by and for the less wealthy. Usually these were bits and pieces – good sections from worn out dresses and shirts, pieces left over from dressmaking , ‘domestic’ cotton or homespun made of a blend of linen and wool; and at first scraps of heavier woolen fabrics padded with wool carded by hand or at a local water turned carding mill. Cottons were too costly and scarce to be used in “utility quilts” merely to keep warm.

Formal quilting styles reflected those being made at the time in England by the well-to-do - wholecloth quilts, and palampores or bed coverings printed in India with wood block on fine cotton in brilliant colours. The quilted bed covers of the poorer country folk didn’t usuallysurvive  =- they were worn until they couldn’t be used again and then finished out their life protecting an ox or a horse from bad weather when out on the road or working in the woods.


When war broke out in 1776 in the 13 colonies, the normal trade lines were abruptly broken; and it became both an issue of pride and a matter of necessity to develop domestic manufacture of necessary items, and to seek trade with other parts of the world than those under the influence of Britain.

Coupled with this was the rising trend to industrializaton and the more efficient machines being invented.Since cotton was grown in North America and would no longer be sent to Britain’s large mills for spinning and weaving,, it resulted in a surge of interest in water powered mills for spinning and weaving and the slow but steady increase in local production of finished yard goods. This heavily influenced a reduction in the use of home processed wool and linen in preference for the easier to work cheaper and less labour intensive  cotton which began to appear. References to slave production of both cotton thread and woven cloth, usually of a rough type that we now call osnaburg are made in documents from both the George Washington and the Thomas Jefferson estates, along with nail making, furniture building and distilling – this effort by both early presidents, as well as setting an example to be followed was necessary to keep their estates self-sustaining and in the profit zone, and were emulated by many landholders.

By very early in the 19th century, there were many efficient factories using American raw materials to add value and trade within the nation rather than by importing finished products and American productivity continued to increase by fine tuning of machinery and more efficient use of waterpower to run mills.

The small remnant of British North America left to the north of the Unted States benefitted by an influx of population and know- how from loyalists and as well from increasing trade with the United States that formal peace legitimized and so we began to grow at a faster pace as well.


  Below, a selection of quilt kits that would reflect fairly accurately the quilts of the pre-revolutionary period, although they were produced and marketed in the  mid 20th century.



Above: Feathered Pineapple – a design re-interpreted from traditional  quilts by Holice Turnbow

and Below, the same designer interprets the traditional Welsh Beauty pattern. These lovely kits are currently in stock and are both queen sized

 PRICED at: $250USD each plus $30USD shipping, insurance and tracking.

Below: AMERICAN STAR from a quilt in the Smithsonian Institution – this another queen sized kit and is also PRICED AT $250USD + $30USD shipping, tracking and insurance.


And shown below, quilt kits that reflected quilts that were being made as  part of the patriotism of the early years of the New Republic:

Above and below: two kits marketed by Paragon – both these kits are based on museum collections of earlier quilts from both the Federal period – late 1700’s and the centennial period – 1876.

 Above Paragon 01147 American Glory: read more about this lovely kit here – it is available in both a started kit and also in a sealed fresh from the factory version.

PRICE: $395USD + $30USD for shipping, tracking and insurance for ether kit


And below -the same quilt worked in cross stitch rather than applique:this kit is for a double bed size and comes with the floss kit of Peri Lusta threads put out at the same time

PRICE; kit and floss $290USD + $30 USD for shipping, tracking and insurance



The above pictured kit was made by Bucilla and marketed by them as American Eagle. The exact same kit was available through the premium catalogue of 20 Mule Team Borax and called “Liberty”  – I have this it in stock again and can also offer the vintage floss for the blue/red colour choice. More details here:

CURRENT PRICE: $225USD + $65USD floss + $30USD shipping, insurance and tracking


The two kits directly below are more modern representations of quilts that were popular during the colonial period and still seen frequently after Independence was declared – these kits were marketed in 1950 and later, and reflect the long lasting love for the patterns first seen when the Dutch East India Company and the British East India Company began shipping fine handprinted cottons from India starting in the 1600’s. These luxury items took Europe by storm and as access to cotton and to weaving and printing became widespread, began to be copied first in France, and then in Holland and Britain.  I have several other kits resembling these two – ask if you are interested.

These ones are:

Directly below: Paragon’s American Herutage in double bed size – I have the floss kit (Peri Lusta, of course) for the kit as well….

PRICE: $290USD complete kit with floss + $30USD shipping, tracking and insurance


And below: Progress 1492 Tree of Life 79×97 back in stock now after an absence, ask about the ‘orphan kit of appliques and embroidery floss without the background fabric – I can provide placement diagrams to put this little bundle on a piece of widecloth white muslin! A heritage quilt at a fraction of the price!

PRICE: complete factory sealed Tree of Life kit: $395USD + $30USD shipping, tracking and insurance  


Buy the ‘orphan kit’ with instructions, applique pieces and floss PRICE: $65USD shipping included


And above, the cross stitch version of Tree of Life also put out by Progress. I am not able at the moment to supply the floss kit for this, if one was ever marketed, but it should not be hard to source good floss.

PRICE: CS Progress Tree of Life kit 79×97 $225USD + $30USD shipping, tracking and insurance


Below are another group of kits marketed from 1950 onwards: Paragon’s Whig Rose a cross stitch interpretation of  the classic applique on white in red and green – the swag round the border in particular is reminiscent of the federal period in design – around 1800. I have this kit in stock.  I may have floss but not the original floss kit.

PRICE for double bed size $225USD + $30 USD shipping, tracking and insurance



Below: during the 1850’s a regional type of elaborately appliqued albumstyle quilt developed in the Batimore Maryland area – Mary Simon appears to have designed many blocks but little is known of her. You can find pictures of many museum quilts by googling Baltimore Album quilts. This is another lovely interpretation made by Paragon and meant to be finished in cross stitch embroidery. I just recently sold the one floss kit I had so am selling the stamped top alone:

PRICE:double bed size Baltimore Brides Quilt $225USD + $30USD shipping, insurance and tracking



Yet again, a lovely interpretation of a medallion style quilt of the late 1700’s – this is called “Country Gardens” and is shown in shades of red and rose with apparently an alternate floss kit being available in yellow. I have neither floss kit and have not seen any out there, so offer the kit of the quilt top in double bed size – you find the floss. Not hard these days with Michaels and Hobby Lobby everywhere.

PRICE: Paragon Country Garden double bed size $225USD + $30USD shipping, insurance and tracking



The above kit was put out by Franklin Mint to commemorate the bicentennial of American Independence. This is a kit that was available only in a very limited number and I sold the one I had long ago. Before I did, since Franklin Mint was totally unforthcoming about supplying instructions from their records, I made a copy of the manual and all the templates and placement patterns, and can provide you with this set should you decide to make your version of the kit.

Called 13 Colonies it has a block commemorating each of those original colonies along with an alternate block so that the total number of blocks you’ll applique before making the appliqued border will be 25 – this is a stunning quilt when finished and would be a lovely heirloom! Contact me to arrange to purchase instructions.


Regency was the British name for the Federal period – Regency refers to the Pribce of Wales regency in Britain after George III finally became totally mentally incompetent – this was in the same time frame as the early years of the American Republic. This lovely kit reflects the quiet restraint and elegance of design during this period and would beautifully enhance a bedroom containing furniture reflecting the Federal period, as shown in the illustration. I have this lovely double bed sized kit back in stock now, including the beautiful factory sealed floss kit.

PRICE: BUCILLA “REGENCY” double bed size complete with floss $290USD + $30USD shipping, insurance and tracking


Beginning in the last quarter of the 19th century, there was a trend away from the heavily decorated, sombre and overblown victorian decorating style, as the Arts and Crafts Movement began to sweep through the western world. Simply stated, this was a turning away from factory made items to a cleaner, simpler style that emphasised the work of skilled artists and craftsmen as opp[osed to mass production.  William Morris, of course, was in the forefront of this movement. What it signified for our interest – quilts – was a return to hand made, clean and simple bedcoverings. A re-surgence in quiltmaking began primarily in Norh America that continues to this day.

At the same time, the Centennial of the USA was being observed and a whole new group of artists and craftspeople were celebrating their homegrown design talents and encouraging the general public to come on board – this period of time was called the ‘colonial revival’ and much authenticity was sacrificed for the sake of the quaint and picturesque. Wallace Nutting was at the forefront of the movement, setting up a small regional furniture manufactory of first period (1650 onwards) furnishings and publishing scores of posed and historically less than accurate hand coloured photos – these items are still much in demand today and are now antiques in their own right.

All through the early part of the last century, houses were being built in the colonial revival style, and restorations such as colonial Williamsburg were going forward on a major scale.

Small needlecraft houses, not to be outdone were offering patterns, stamped goods and magazine articles, and a generation of North Americans fell asleep each night on pillowcases with southern crinoline ladies, looking at needlework pictures of bell skirted ladies at garden gates. Tea was taken from china with the same motif.

The quilt kit manufacturers came on board with kits like those shown below – not necessarily accurate in design, but reflecting the mood of quaint and historic and later in the 1970’s as american country style became popular producing kits with an americana theme.

These kits too are a legitimate part of our quilt kit heritage and make lovely period statements in rooms today.

Above is a kit I have recently acquired, Paragon American Calico – the name says it all! Published in 1944 this is a lovely kit in double ved size to be worked in cross stitch in the traditional 19th c colours of red green and yellow on white.

PRICE :  PARAGON AMERICAN CALICO double bed size: $250USD + $30USD shipping, insurance and tracking


Above is the ever-popular Paragon American Sampler quilt kit – I have this kit in stock in two sizes double and queen/king  and can supply the sealed floss kits (Peri Lusta)for both in the colourway shown.

PRICES: PARAGON AMERICAN SAMPLER complete with floss kit – double bed size $290USD, or queen/king size $325 USD and shipping for either choice $30USD includes tracking and insurance.


The kit shown below is stunning – I have two of these which I will sell singly or as a pair. Both are double bed sized, one is complete in the original package and rthe other has been started and is missing fabric to complete it.   Got to this link to see more photos and a full description, including prices.

Contact me if you are ready to take on this challenge!


And abovew is my final offering for today: this is a kit that reflects the ‘quaintness’ and ‘americana’ feel I was talking about – fun! and it comes complete with all floss and instructions to complete. Paragon Colonial America is dated 1978 and is in double bed size. Check it out in more deatil in this post:

PRICE: PARAGON “COLONIAL AMERICA” double with floss kit $290USD + $30USD shipping, insurance and tracking



Enjoy your national hliday and remember to contact me: and put SIGN ME UP! in the title line in order to start receiving my newsletter – the July issue will be going out soon and will contain some new acquisitions and perhaps some real treasures among my older rarer inventory. There will be some special offers as well – get on the list!

Hugs! Have a great day!  Janet

4 Responses to “Colonial and Post Colonial Quilt Kits: Americana”

  • Kath Baker:

    Loved the post Janet! lots of interesting facts and having it all tied into the quilting side is fascinating.

    I am so glad you are enabling my new addiction :D

    Kath in Scotland

  • janet:

    Hi Kath: I’m so happy you enjoyed the post – I admit to being a real history fan! Hope you will enjoy the July newsletter that just went out an hour ago – lots to look at there!
    And happy to oblige and facilitate your new addiction! I’ll be concentrating in the nexr little while on getting all my ‘orphans’ in one spot and promoting them a little more!
    Feel free to forward my newsletter to your friends and invite them to email me and tell me to sign them up.

  • I am looking for 2 king size American Sampler Kit no 01171. Do you have them and how much are they

  • janet:

    Hi Judy: I currently have two double/queen kits (90×103) in stock. I will answer your inquiry by email immediately.

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