When I was a girl, if you weren’t solving mysteries with Nancy Drew you were frolicking on the prairie with Laura and Mary Ingalls. With pigtails and bonnet strings flying in the wind, the pioneer girls–particularly Laura–scampered across the countryside gathering wildflowers, helping with chores, or playing with rag dolls before settling down under a big quilt to sleep after Pa played his fiddle.
The stories in the “Little House” books have stuck with readers generation after generation, and became even more popular when the “Little House on the Prairie” TV show aired (1975-1983).
So you can imagine how hearts beat faster than a working butter churn when Andover Fabrics announced its line of Little House on the Prairie quilting fabrics and patterns last fall.
Anyone who read the books (or watched the show) remembers that sewing and quilting were essential skills for female pioneers.
According to the Little House on the Prairie website (littlehouseontheprairie.com), matriarch Caroline Ingalls “understood the importance of teaching her children to sew. In a time before central heating, when a warm home in the winter might only be 55 degrees, having a large number of quilts was a matter of survival. Quilts were not only used for bedding, but they were also hung in windows and doorways to block drafts.
“They were hung from ropes to create ‘divisions’ in an otherwise one-room cabin, providing privacy in cramped quarters. They were also used as padding to protect precious belongings when traveling cross country.”
Andover has launched three “Little House” lines of quilting fabric, kits and patterns:
Walnut Grove: Named for the town in Minnesota where Laura’s 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. This is a natural finish fabric, paying homage to the rustic roots of Laura’s stories.
So many readers learned about hand sewing techniques, garment construction, fabrics, and make-do stitching from the “Little House” series. Think about it: everyone not only made their own quilts, but their sheets, clothing, hankies–and the mending! Fabric had to be ordered through the general store and ready-to-wear wouldn’t be ready for decades, at least on the prairie.
It’s no wonder the “Little House” stories are so dear in the hearts of many quilters and anyone who appreciates textiles. We’re so lucky to have the opportunity to revisit those memories by making our own prairie-style quilts with “Little House on the Prairie” quilt fabrics and kits.