Tuesday, March 24, 2015

William Morris for applique lovers

William Morris (1834 –1896) was an English textile designer associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement. During his lifetime, Morris produced over 600 designs for wallpaper, textiles, and embroideries. Some of these elaborate designs have been translated into applique patterns by Michele Hill (William Morris in Applique and More William Morris Applique) and Rosemary Makhan (Floral Abundance: Applique Designs Inspired by William Morris).  Here are some William Morris-inspired quilts!

Strawberry Thieves by Donna Viitanen, quilted by Anita Shackelford

At the 2014 Tucson, Arizona Quilt Fiesta, Donna and Anita's work won two awards: one for Exemplary Hand Applique, and a second place award for Two Person Appliqued Quilts. Donna notes, "Michele Hill's William Morris pattern, "Strawberry Thief", influenced my version of this pattern, Strawberry Thieves."  A cheerful red border makes the perfect frame for this beautifully executed design.

Close up photos, Strawberry Thieves by Donna Viitanen

Imagine the hours of hand applique work that went into creating this pastoral outdoor scene. What fun it must have been to select fabrics for such a lovely creation !

Do you love the birds in your garden, only to have them eat the fruits and vegetable plants you're trying to hard to grow every spring and summer?  Well, that appears to be what's happening here. These bluebirds are getting away with some delicious-looking strawberries which will be a real feast for them !  Bright colors, plus Anita's  intricate background quilting really make these birds and their stolen treasure "pop".

A Matter of Morris by Mary Mix, quilted by Janice Skiles

Mary explains, "I have always been intrigued with the Arts and Crafts Movement and the fabrics that were a part of that time. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in the quilt world as well as the availability of many wonderful William Morris fabrics. I found a lovely, yet challenging pattern in the Arts and Crafts style that was a perfect fit with the fabrics I love." We really admired the excellent workmanship and the gracious symmetry of Mary's quilt.
The pattern is from the book, Floral Abundance:  Applique Designs Inspired by William Morris, by Rosemary Makhan.

Close up, A Matter of Morris by Mary Mix

Mary continues, "I enjoy applique as well as piecing, and this pattern mixed the two so well with these fabrics. This quilt was a joy to create despite the time and challenges it presented." In this elegant center medallion, you can see how Mary's use of soft neutrals really enhances the elegant curved vase and  the sophisticated curve of the twining leaves.

Remembering William Morris by Catherine Vaught,  quilted by Carolyn Helvie

An Arizona Quilter Hall of Fame award winner, Catherine states, "Selecting fabrics for each block was a two-year quilting adventure. Hand embroidery gave the fused elements definition and brought this piece to life. " Catherine adds that her work was inspired by Picasso and DaVinci.The stunning center medallion is from the book More William Morris Applique by Michele Hill.

Catherine has expertly rendered these fanciful flowers in shades of soft purple, pink, and green. Playful bunnies and birds add a springtime feel to what appears to be an enchanted garden.

Nature's Treasures by Diane Abram, United Kingdom

Blue-ribbon winner for "Best of Country" at the 2015 World Quilt Show, Diane writes, "Three books of William Morris inspired designs were used for this original quilt. The center is from Rosemary Makhan's "Floral Abundance.". The other designs are taken from Michele Hill's books on Williams Morris applique."

Close up, Nature's Treasures by Diane Abram

Diane continues, "I didn't use all traditional Morris fabics, preferring instead to try to see if I could give the design a different feel with a more modern choice. Metallic thread has been used to edge the applique and to give it sparkle."

Image credits: Photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.


  1. WOW!! In a word!!
    Oh my!! I was looking at William Morris and The Strawberry Theieves to stitch for myself!! HeaVen and Earth designs have a wonderful picture, similar to yours,...I love it!!!
    Just looking at those vivid blue birds how they stand out...wonderful! And the strawberries look almost edible! And I like how the border brings the whole design together. Simply lovely.
    Natures Treasures,.,.is a WOW! Quilt...omg it's stunning..I cannot stop looking at it!
    Thank you so much, I love what you both do.... Marvellous!!

  2. Wow......stunning! All of those are gorgeous true works of art!

  3. It was wonderful to see this post as I am a fan of William Morris. They are all beautiful quilts. On the third quilt, the center medallion is right out of Michele Hill's quilt, Morning Glory, from her More of William Morris book. It's sad to find quilts where the designs they come from are not given credit. Perhaps it was on the description, but not mentioned here. Thanks for sharing.


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