My fascination with Laura Ingalls Wilder began, as it did for many, when I was captivated by her Little House on the Prairie books. Such adventures. Such living history. I was intrigued. I am happy to say that that intrique continues for me today. I have written a book that is a collection of patterns inspired by Laura's adventures. I have created a lecture about what quilting was like when Laura was growing up. And I have been commissioned to make several quilts with a Laura Ingalls Wilder theme. I invite you to read about them here. Enjoy!
February 7 marked the 150th anniversary of Laura Ingalls Wilder's birth, and for Little House fans, this is a year marked with celebrations. July 12 - 14, Laurapalooza, the conference for all things Little House related, will be held in Springfield, MO, a hop, skip, and a jump from Mansfield, MO where Laura and Almanzo made their home. If you only know Laura through the iconic Little House on the Prairie television show, you may not know about Mansfield. Married in 1885, Laura and Almanzo left South Dakota in 1894 to make their home in Mansfield, MO. Rocky Ridge Farm, the home they built there, is now the site of a wonderful museum dedicated to Laura and her life.
Laurapalooza is a conference dedicated to the research and legacy of Laura. This year's offering will be the fourth time Laurapalooza has been held. During the course of 3 days, presentations are given on various aspects of Laura and things related to her. I was honored to be a featured speaker at the second Laurapalooza where I did a presentation about quilts in Laura's life. It is the basis of the presentation I currently offer to groups nationwide. I am so excited to announce that I will be a speaker at this year's conference where I will be doing a workshop about Laura's Wedding Quilt. Made in a time when quilt patterns were not mass marketed as they are today, quilters had to rely on their own drafting skills to create their quilt patterns. Attendees will learn how to draft this very unusual pattern with nothing more than paper, pencil, and a ruler.
Here is a picture of the quilt I made with my Doves in the Window blocks.
Registration information for Laurapalooza will be released in the next few weeks. Watch the Beyond Little House website for details.
While in the Mansfield area this summer, I will be giving my Quilting with Laura Ingalls Wilder program at the Ozark County Historium in Gainesville, MO (about 45 minutes from Mansfield) on Tuesday, July 11, at a tea style luncheon sponsored the Ozark County Genealogical and Historical Society.
I will be returning to Gainesville on Saturday, July 15 to do a quilting workshop entitled Homestead Star. It is an all day workshop where students will learn scrap quilt concepts, making a pattern that makes not one, but two quilts at the same time. The technique is a great way to make use of every bit of fabric with great results.
The tea, Laurapalooza, and the workshop are all open to the public. If you are in the area, come! It will be great fun.
Mark your calendar! Wednesday, February 22 at 8 pm Central time, I will once again be a guest on Sarah Uthoff's Internet Radio show Trundlebed Tales. In this hour long interview, I will talk about the connection between Laura Ingalls Wilder and quilts, including my research about Doves in the Window, the quilt pattern Laura talks about making as her wedding quilt in the Little House books.
You can listen to the broadcast on your computer. Click on this link to join us live on February 22, or to listen later. Linda Halpin Quilt Detecting with Laura Ingalls Wilder.
If you missed it, here is the link for the first interview I did for Sarah back in 2012. Trundlebed Tales: Quilts and Laura Ingalls Wilder
2017 marks the 150th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Born February 7, 1867 in Pepin, WI, Laura's writings inspired by her life have enchanted readers worldwide. Countless libraries, historical societies, museums, and quilt guilds are planning special events this year to celebrate Laura's birth. I will be presenting my lecture program on Quilting in Laura's life at several locations this year. I have also added a new workshop devoted to Laura called Laura's Wedding Quilt. If you are interested in having me do a presentation for your group, contact me at email@example.com for booking details.
Inspired by reading the Little House series as a child, I remember searching for years to find the Doves in the Window pattern that Laura told of making for her wedding quilt. I too had started sewing at an early age, and loved that Laura made quilts out of fabric scraps to keep warm. But what was the Doves in the Window pattern? The quilt she made did not survive the fire that destroyed their home just before their 4th anniversary. I learned that there were several patterns called Doves in the Window. The only clues I had as to which version Laura made were bits of decriptions she mentioned in her stories. She made a quilt block with bias edges that were so tricky, Ma made her take it apart and re-do it until she got it right.
A visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder site in Burr Oak, IA sent me down a path that has lead to what I believe may have been the pattern Laura made for her wedding quilt. Join me in this one day workshop where you will learn how to draft this unusual patterns, make your own templates, and use a combination of machine and hand piecing to create this unique Doves in the Window pattern.
In celebration of the spirit of Laura, I have created my version of her Doves in the Window quilt, combining this intriguing block with the nine patch blocks she and her sister Mary learned their piecing skills on.
This is a full day Skills workshop rather than a Project workshop. You will learn how to draft your pattern, create your templates, create one Doves in the Window block. This may be framed, made into a pillow, or used as the start of your next quilt. The emphasis of this class is to teach drafting and precision piecing skills rather than teaching a project. Students will, however, receive the pattern and directions for making the quilt shown.
Interested in having me teach this workshop for your group? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for booking details.
Check it out! Andover Fabrics has introduced yet another line of fabrics inspired by Little House on the Prairie. This line is called Mansfield (as in Mansfield, MO, where Laura and Almanzo made their home) and was released in October 2016.
I was once again honored to be invited by Andover Fabrics to make a quilt for their booth at Quilt Market featuring this year's newest line of fabric in their Little House on the Prairie inspired fabrics. This year's line is called Mansfield, named for the town in Missouri where Laura and Almanzo made their home.
I again chose the Little House Sampler pattern for my quilt. The collection of patterns allowed me to highlight the beautiful fabrics in this collection.
This closeup shows one of the areas where I fussy-cut some of the fabric to create additional detail in the quilt. To make your own Little House Sampler, the pattern can be ordered on the Ordering segment of this website.
In November 2015, Andover Fabrics introduced three lines of Little House on the Prairie fabrics to quilt shops nationwide.Walnut Grove: Named for the town in Minnesota where the Ingalls family settled in 1874, the Walnut Grove collection features prints from the era that their quilts would have been made from.
Prairie Flowers: The quilts of the Little House on the Prairie TV show feature bold, bright prints that gave the show its life and color. The Prairie Flowers collection is a rainbow wave of calicos, inspired by the TV quilts.
Scenics and Icons: Inspired by the illustrations found in the novels, this collection features iconic imagery such as the running girl, wagon, little cabin, and the majestic scenery.
I was invited by Andover to create a quilt out of the Little House fabrics for their booth at Quilt Market in October 2015. Once the quilt top was constructed, I took a trip to Pepin, WI, where there is a replica of the Ingalls cabin near the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder!
Using fabric from all three lines and blocks from my book Quilting with Laura, I created Little House Sampler. Whereas Quilting with Laura is geared towards hand piecing, the Little House Sampler pattern uses all machine piecing techniques. The response to the Little House Sampler quilt has been so great that I have written a pattern for this specific quilt
The Little House Sampler pattern is a 22 page booklet containing directions for nine patchwork blocks that tell the story of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House adventures. The booklet includes a color photo of the quilt, as well as full size templates for the blocks constructed from templates. Non-template blocks are constructed with precision machine piecing techniques. The detailed directions include step by step colored illustrations, making it good for all levels of quiltmaking experience, from the beginner to the advanced stitcher.
Patterns included are:
Price: $15.00 plus $1.50 shipping
Directions for ordering this pattern are given on the Ordering section of this website.
I have made several sampler quilts using blocks from Quilting with Laura. Each one has its own arrangement, which I love. It gives me the chance to make each quilt an individual, and gives me that chance to play, which is part of the fun of patchwork.
This version shows the quilt made up in blues and reds that would have been available to Laura when she was a young girl making patchwork blocks.
This version uses nine of the possible fourteen patterns featured in Quilting with Laura.
Published 1999; Reprinted 2015
Children and adults alike continue to be fascinated by the engaging tale of what life was like during the era in which Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up. This book is a charming collection of traditional quilt blocks that tell the story of Laura and her adventures. Whether joined into a sampler quilt, as shown on the book's cover, or made a quilt of an individual block, this book will take you on your own Little House adventure. Quilting with Laura includes blocks that are actually mentioned by Laura in her books as well as traditional blocks whose names reflect events of this pioneering time.
Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books were among my favorites as a child. Reading about Laura's adventures planted the seed that got me interested in quilting. When a Mom approached me years ago asking if there were patterns available that were inspired by the Little House series that she could use to teach her daughter how to quilt, I was off and running.
I began collecting patterns inspired by the Little House books, both patterns Laura wrote about and patterns whose names reflected the adventures of the Ingalls family. The quilt shown on the cover is a sampler quilt displaying the 14 patterns within the book. Don't be put off by the thought of making something with so many blocks! This is not a direction manual for making this particular sampler quilt, but rather, it is a book that will teach you how to do patchwork as Laura did. Blocks are arranged in order of difficulty, so quilters will learn a new skill with each block they make. Quilters are encouraged to pick and choose which patterns appeal to them, either because of the design itself, or because of the story behind the block, and create a quilt that tells their own story.
The book has been out out for a number of years now, and has proven to be very popular with moms, aunts, grandmothers, homeschoolers, girl scout leaders, you name it. It is a wonderful way for you to share your passion for quilting with the youngsters in your life.
Everything from what tools you need to how to make templates is included in this hand-piecing guide book. Each of the 14 patterns is accompanied by what links them to the Little House stories. It is the perfect companion to the Little House series, and a way to pass your love of quilting on to the next generation.
School teachers and youth group leaders find Quilting with Laura also makes an ideal teaching tool that dovetails with a wide range of subject areas.
$12.95. Go to the Ordering Tab on this website for Ordering Details.
Whether you are a fan of the Little House books, or the tv show, or both, Little House on the Prairie.com is a website you need to check out. It is a wonderful resource of information on everything from Laura historic sites to the backstory behind various aspects of Laura's life to a lifestyle section that provides information on how you too can recreate a Little House experience.
This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the people behind the website, and I was invited to write an article or two for them. The link above will take you to the first article, Quilting with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Enjoy!
The folks at Millhouse Quilts are fully embracing the Wisconsin theme of the 2015 Shop Hop by paying tribute to Wisconsin-born Laura Ingalls Wilder. Millhouse asked me to design a quilt using blocks from my book Quilting With Laura, Patterns Inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie Series. While the book features hand piecing techniques in keeping with how Laura pieced her quilts, this quilt and the pattern that goes with it are done with machine piecing techniques. A charming 30" square, this quilt would make a lovely keepsake for any home.
$10.00 plus $1.50 shipping
The Little House books, made even more popular by the Little House on the Prairie television series, were inspired by the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder as she grew up during a time of pioneering expansion.
Children and adults alike continue to be fascinated by Laura's engaging tales. In an age when people had to make do to survive, quilting played a natural and vital role. Not only are specific patterns mentioned throughout Laura's stories, but many existing quilt patterns reflect the adventures of life on the prairie.
This presentation is a combination slide and trunk show which supplements my book Quilting with Laura: Patterns Inspired by the Little House on the Prairie Series. Viewers will explore quilts as Laura would have known them, tracing the history of quiltmaking during the time period of Laura's youth.
Format: Lecture, trunk show
In July 2012, I had the honor of being a featured presenter at Laurapalooza, a Conference held in Mankato, MN that focused on research about Laura Ingalls Wilder. My presentation on what quilting was like when Laura was learning to quilt is now available as a lecture (see info above). One of the happy outcomes of my appearance at the Conference was meeting Sarah Uthoff, a Laura expert in her own right. Sarah invited me to be a guest on her Internet Radio show Trundlebed Tales, talking about quilts and what quiltmaking was like during the times of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The Little House books, made even more popular by the Little House on the Prairie television series, tell of the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder as she grew up in the Midwest during a time of pioneering expansion. Quilting was a big part of Laura's life. In fact, she mentions quilts and quilting over 70 times in her books. And that is what I was there to talk about.
Doing the presentation in Mankato was great fun. I could show quilts to illustrate my talk. Not so on the radio! It was a new experience for me, relying totally on words to express myself, with no props or pictures! I have to say, it was great fun.
You can listen to the broadcast on your computer. Just click on the link below, and it will take you to the site. The show is one hour long, and we really covered a lot of territory! Imagine my delight to have heard from Sarah that over 2,000 people have listened to the broadcast and it has been one of her most listened to broadcasts!
Check it out, and enjoy! Trundlebed Tales: Quilts and Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura began writing down her stories when she was in her 60's as a way to be sure that the stories weren't lost. Her autobiography, Pioneer Girl, was submitted to publishers, but no one was interested. Not being one to give up easily, she reworked it into a much smaller book called Little House in the Big Woods. To our great fortune, that was picked up by a publisher, to great success. Readers were so enchanted that they wanted more, and eventually, the series of books that are now loved worldwide came into being. That still left her original autobiography unpublished.
After many years of research, editor Pamela Smith Hill teamed up with the South Dakota State Historical Society to publish Laura's book as an annotated autobiography. Ms. Hill does an amazing job of placing the text in historical context, complete with photos of the people and places Laura wrote about as well as the backstories to Laura's writings. They went to press last Fall with 15,000 books which were snapped up by Laura fans before they had even come off the press. So a second printing of 15,000 was ordered, and that didn't begin to cover the pre-orders that were coming in. Reviews began showing up in the likes of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and on NPR, to name a few. To make a long story short, by midsummer, 145,000 copies will be in print, and readers who ordered their copies months ago are finally getting their copies.
To get your copy of this treasured book, contact any of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Sites. See Links below. Your purchase will support their site.
Some of you may remember that in 2012 I had the honor of being one of the featured presenters at Laurapalooza, the conference held in Mankato, MN in which researchers presented papers on their area of research on Laura Ingalls Wilder. What fun that was. My presentation was about what quilting was like when Laura was learning to quilt. It resulted in the lecture program that is now one of my program offerings. The 3 day event was such a treat! Attendees included fans of the books as well as fans of the tv show. Presentations delved into the backstories of Laura's life. It was great fun. Well, it is Laurapalooza time again, and there is great excitement about this year's event.
This year's Laurapalooza Conference will be held in Brookings, SD, and Pamela Smith Hill, editor of Pioneer Girl, is the keynote speaker. Will I be there? You bet! Can't wait! Here is a link with information about the Conference. There is still time to register. Hope to see some of you there!
One of the things that has always fascinated me about Laura is the quilt she talked about making for her hope chest. It was a Dove in the Window pattern and a very tricky one because of all the bias seams. Ma, Laura clearly remembers, made her take out the seams several times until she got them right. We have all had that experience! I have always wondered what that quilt looked like. Sadly, early on in their marriage, Laura and Almanzo lost everything in a house fire, including the quilt. When I was writing my book Quilting with Laura, I had come upon a pattern called Dove in the Window that indeed did have lots of bias seams, and I made a guess that it might have been the design Laura had made, but of course, there was no proof.
Fast forward. While visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Park and Museum in Burr Oak, IA, where the family lived for a short time while Pa helped manage the Masters Hotel, I saw a quilt block on display that was made by Laura. It was a very unusual pattern, one I had never seen before.
As I was doing research for my lecture on Laura, I came across a line drawing of a block called Dove in the Window in an obscure quilt book called Old Patchwork Quilts by Ruth Finley from 1929. I was struck with the similarities between Laura's block and this drawing. When Laura was learning to quilt, there were no quilt pattern books. They did not come until much later. She may have seen the design at a county fair or at a friend's quilting bee, or someone may have sent her a sketch of the design. That was the way patterns traveled from person to person before catalogs offering quilt patterns became commonplace.
The block at Burr Oak is an odd one, that is to say, I have never seen a whole quilt made of this pattern. What struck me was the similarity to the drawing of the Dove in the Window block shown in Ruth Finley's 1929 book. The Burr Oak block has some variations from the Finley version. The outer diamond in the center section of Laura's Burr Oak block are cut as one piece, for example, where the shape in the Finley version is three pieces sewn together.
Construction-wise, the center octagon would be assembled first, then set into the center of the main block. It turns out that this shape is not a perfect octagon, but rather one that is slightly elongated. It would be easy to rotate that center octagon by one turn, which would then coincide with the Burr Oak block. When the octagon is rotated by one turn, it doesn't fit smoothly into the block. The edges are all bias, and it would certainly explain Ma making Laura take out the pieces and re-do them until they were correct, and why Laura's Burr Oak block does not lay smooth.
My theory is that Laura, in later years, wanted to reconstruct the Dove in the Window pattern from her youth and was trying to do it from memory. It would explain the minor variations from the Finley block. The offset of the center octagon in the Burr Oak block, which caused it to not lay flat, would explain why Laura did not continue to make an entire quilt of the pattern.
Death on the Prairie
My journey with Laura continues. I was recently contacted by author Kathleen Ernst that she was writing a mystery book with Laura Ingalls Wilder as a theme. Kathleen has written several young adult books as part of the American Girl doll series, as well as a fun series of mysteries for adults. Her newest book, which was released in October 2015, picks up on the adventures of her main character Chloe Ellefson, a Collections Curator at Old World Wisconsin. While Chloe is fictional, Old World Wisconsin really exists. It is an open air museum in Eagle, Wisconsin. In the story, Chloe has been given a quilt that was supposedly made by Laura. In an effort to try to authenticate the claim, she and her sister take off on a road trip to several of the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic sites to see if they can match any fabrics from the quilt given to her to fabrics used in quilts known to have been made by Laura. And because it is a mystery, and because these things just keep happening to Chloe, dead bodies start turning up.
When Kathleen told me the premise of her book, we began talking about the quilts at the various historic sites, and I told her about my research on the Burr Oak Block. I am thrilled to report that my theories made it into the story line! What fun! Kathleen has commissioned me to make a quilt for her to take with her on her publicity tour that consists of the blocks Laura talks about in her books, including the Burr Oak block. Both the book, DEATH ON THE PRAIRIE (Publisher Midnight Ink Books) and the pattern I will publish of the commissioned quilt, will be available Winter 2015.
Between the debut of the Little House line of fabric in October, the release of Death on the Prairie and the quilt pattern that will accompany the book, the adaptation of some of the blocks for Millhouse Quilts Shop Hop Quilt, and renewed interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder with the publication of Laura's autobiography PIONEER GIRL, I am in the process of reprinting Quilting with Laura: Patterns Inspired by Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie Series. The book has done well over the years at the various Laura historic sites, at quilt shops, and at my lectures, and I am happy to say that a reprint was in order to restock my supply of books!