A Love of Old Looking Fabrics
I have been quilting since 1980 when I took my first class in Zionsville, Indiana, where I learned hand and machine piecing and hand quilting techniques. Since then, I have put these skills to use in making miniature through full-sized quilts.
I have always been drawn to antique quilts, both for their classic designs, and soft, faded colors. In my early years of quilting, prior to the advent of “reproduction fabrics,” I relished the challenge of finding fabrics that looked old. I remember the day that I bought 6 yards of a cream colored fabric with a tiny black motif because it looked like a shirting fabric, something that just didn’t exist in the marketplace. And when I found a pink fabric that looked like some of the cinnamon pinks I’d seen in old quilts, I wanted the entire bolt so that I could reproduce those wonderful turn-of-the-century scrap quilts.
I used these fabrics, and later on, the wide selection of reproduction fabrics that began to appear in quilt shops, to create old-looking, doll-sized quilts that I display throughout my house in wall groupings, on table tops, and on a growing collection of doll beds. As I gathered my little quilts, doll beds, and other props in preparation for a quilt guild program that I was presenting, my youngest son wondered if we were moving out as he surveyed our family room with its empty walls and bare furniture surfaces!
The Start of a Business
It was this program in the summer of 1999 that led to my pattern business. I told the audience about a phone call that I received from my youngest sister a few days before Christmas in which she asked if I would please make small quilts that measured 18” x 23” for the doll beds that Santa was bringing her three young daughters for their American Girl dolls. As I agreed to make them, I knew that this really meant that I would be making 5 quilts so that my other two nieces, who lived nearby, would not feel left out. When I showed these simple “Little Nieces” quilts, all made from different colorways of 1930s fabrics, and shared the pattern with guild members, I had no idea that the following month’s show and tell would yield lots of “Little Nieces” quilts made from a variety of beautiful fabrics.
Karen Loser, a guild member and owner of Quilter’s Harvest, a nearby shop, asked if I would teach a summer class on my little quilts. By profession, I’m a full-time college professor of Literacy and Language Education at Purdue University, and thoroughly enjoy teaching, so I gladly agreed. However, because I had to return the quilts to my nieces, I made one for myself, using my favorite pink and brown reproduction fabrics. When this class sample quilt hung in the shop, other customers asked to purchase the pattern, and thus, my pattern business, Carol Hopkins Designs, was launched.
About My Patterns
I have two different series of patterns—Civil War Legacies and Vintage Legacies. The era of the reproduction fabrics used in the quilt that appears on the pattern cover determines which line the pattern will appear in. I do not choose complex blocks for my patterns because I prefer to let the fabrics do the work of capturing the beauty and simplicity of antique quilts.While many of my patterns are small doll quilts or wall hangings ranging in size from 16” x 19” to 32” x 32”, several are large enough for napping and full-size bed quilts, and all could be easily adapted to a size that fits the quiltmaker’s preference. I rotary cut the pieces for my quilts and machine piece them using ¼” seams. All of my small quilts are hand quilted. Most of the blocks I use are in the 2” to 4” range, and the finished quilts are named for my children, sisters, parents, other family members, and friends whose love, support, and encouragement I cherish. One of these days I’m going to create a family and friends quilt tree to show how all of these patterns are related!