The most recommended quilting books

Who picked these books? Meet our 4 experts.

4 authors created a book list connected to quilting, and here are their favorite quilting books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Gee's Bend: The Women and Their Quilts

Susan Goldman Rubin Author Of The Quilts of Gee's Bend

From my list on quilting created by African American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first saw the quilts of Gee’s Bend at the Whitney Museum in New York. I was wowed! I viewed the quilts as works of art and included some in a book I was doing, Art Against the Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings. But I wanted to show and tell more about the quilters. Who were these women who dreamed up incredible designs and made art out of scraps despite their poverty and hard lives? Since I never quilted I had to find out how they did it, and realized that quilting not only produced covers for their families, but expressed individual creativity, and brought women together.

Susan's book list on quilting created by African American women

Susan Goldman Rubin Why did Susan love this book?

This huge volume was another reference book for me as I researched The Quilts of Gee’s Bend.  The large reproductions of the quilts showed how the women with the same material used it in different waysStartling to see so many imaginative versions of a pattern called Housetop. Two quilts titled Flower Garden shown side by side are dazzling. And this book contains more photos of the quilters and provides information about their lives and struggles against poverty and racism. The art they produced despite their limited resources and hardships is truly an inspiration. A miracle!

By William Arnett (editor), Alvia Wardlaw (editor), Jane Livingston (editor) , John Beardsley (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gee's Bend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hardcover Book


Book cover of The Amish Quiltmaker's Unexpected Baby

Molly Jebber Author Of Rachael's Decision

From my list on escaping into a world of inspirational Amish romance and suspense.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve visited Amish communities for years as a tourist. An agent suggested I write it because of my faith in God. The Amish base their lifestyle and traditions on their faith in God, and she felt the books would be more authentic if the author felt the same. I’ve never been Amish, but the topic is fun to research, and some of the Amish are forthcoming in helping me. I love the fried chicken, homemade butterscotch pie, corn pudding, and beautiful quilts they have available when visiting the different Ohio and Indiana communities. They are not my typical audience.

Molly's book list on escaping into a world of inspirational Amish romance and suspense

Molly Jebber Why did Molly love this book?

Jennifer writes a compelling story, but she has you laughing at just the right moments in the story. The baby adds an interesting twist, and plays a part you don’t want to miss in this story. You’ll be surprised as you turn the pages, and you won’t be disappointed when you finish the story.

By Jennifer Beckstrand,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Amish Quiltmaker's Unexpected Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the first in an engaging new series, an Amish quiltmaker moves from Pennsylvania to a new settlement in Colorado, where adventure, challenges, and love are waiting . . .
 
Esther Zook is starting over after her father’s death, piecing together a new life with as much care as she puts into her intricate quilts. When her wayward sister abandons her baby, it throws all those plans for a fresh start asunder. Esther had accepted her status as an old maid—but a mother? And a single one, at that? Not that she hasn’t noticed Levi Kiem, the eligible young man…


Book cover of The Quilts of Gee’s Bend

Susan Goldman Rubin Author Of The Quilts of Gee's Bend

From my list on quilting created by African American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first saw the quilts of Gee’s Bend at the Whitney Museum in New York. I was wowed! I viewed the quilts as works of art and included some in a book I was doing, Art Against the Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings. But I wanted to show and tell more about the quilters. Who were these women who dreamed up incredible designs and made art out of scraps despite their poverty and hard lives? Since I never quilted I had to find out how they did it, and realized that quilting not only produced covers for their families, but expressed individual creativity, and brought women together.

Susan's book list on quilting created by African American women

Susan Goldman Rubin Why did Susan love this book?

I used this adult coffee table book as a main reference for writing my children’s book of the same title. The amazing reproductions of the quilts are beautiful. The colors glow. I could see the bits of patterns –flowers, triangles, plaids – ingeniously composed like abstract paintings. Captions give the names of the quilters.  And there are photos of them as well as vintage pictures. Quotes from the quilters tell their histories. One of the most touching stories was by Missouri Pettway who told that when her Daddy died her mother took his old work clothes to make a quilt “to remember him, and cover-up under it for love.” I have seen this extraordinary quilt displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and remembering the story behind it, was deeply moved.

By William Arnett, Alvia Wardlaw, Jane Livingston , John Beardsley , Paul Arnett

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quilts of Gee’s Bend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Since the 19th century, the women of Gee’s Bend in southern Alabama have created stunning, vibrant quilts. Beautifully illustrated with 110 color illustrations, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend includes a historical overview of the two hundred years of extraordinary quilt-making in this African-American community, its people, and their art-making tradition. This book is being·released in conjunction with a national exhibition tour including The Museum of Fine Art, Houston, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Museum of Fine Art, Boston, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Milwaukee Art Museum, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta,…


Book cover of Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt

Susan Goldman Rubin Author Of The Quilts of Gee's Bend

From my list on quilting created by African American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first saw the quilts of Gee’s Bend at the Whitney Museum in New York. I was wowed! I viewed the quilts as works of art and included some in a book I was doing, Art Against the Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings. But I wanted to show and tell more about the quilters. Who were these women who dreamed up incredible designs and made art out of scraps despite their poverty and hard lives? Since I never quilted I had to find out how they did it, and realized that quilting not only produced covers for their families, but expressed individual creativity, and brought women together.

Susan's book list on quilting created by African American women

Susan Goldman Rubin Why did Susan love this book?

Patricia McKissack introduces the quilts of Gee’s Bend to young readers in this charming picture book. McKissack not only read about Gee’s Bend but she visited and learned how to quilt. Her text is written in poems that capture the lilt and rhythm of Gee’s Bend women. The speaker, “Baby Girl,” describes how she learned how to quilt from her grandma. The soft, painterly illustrations by Cozbi A. Cabrera resemble Gee’s Bend quilts, and depict the colorful scraps of material the women used. The story includes the visit of Dr. Martin Luther King to “the Bend” on his way to Camden, then Selma, to march for the right to vote. And the aftermath of that march. A superb picture book full of history and hope for readers of all ages.

By Patricia McKissack, Cozbi A. Cabrera (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stitchin' and Pullin' as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

This collection of poems that tell the story of the quilt-making community in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, is now available as a Dragonfly paperback.
 
For generations, the women of Gee’s Bend have made quilts to keep a family warm, as a pastime accompanied by sharing and singing, or to memorialize loved ones. Today, the same quilts hang on museum walls as modern masterpieces of color and design. Inspired by these quilts and the women who made them, award-winning author Patricia C. McKissack traveled to Alabama to learn their stories. The lyrical rite-of-passage narrative that is the result of her journey seamlessly…


Book cover of How to Make an American Quilt

Joan Rudd Author Of Building Solid: A Life in Stories

From my list on growing into womanhood in different locations.

Why am I passionate about this?

"Two tickets to ride!Most people get only one life.... and on only one coast. This book is an overview of an era 1948-2020 of cultural shifts and expectations for "girls". At seventeen I left my family and NYC for college, a commune, and then art school on the West coast. Visual artist, woman, mother, and descendant, Joan describes the lifetime challenges that she has met with creativity, humor, and resilience. Two NW cities, two marriages, and two sons born 23 years apart inspire many of her stories. 

Joan's book list on growing into womanhood in different locations

Joan Rudd Why did Joan love this book?

How to Make an American Quilt is a novel stringing together wonderful interconnected stories told across a couple of generations and incorporating descriptions of sight, smell, and touch. “I am not the kind of person to throw something away just because it is broken. I would not waste what could still be of use,” says one of the main characters who goes on to explain that quilts are made of “spare time” and “excess materials.”

By Whitney Otto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Make an American Quilt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Remarkable . . . It is a tribute to an art form that allowed women self-expression even when society did not. Above all, though, it is an affirmation of the strength and power of individual lives, and the way they cannot help fitting together.”—The New York Times Book Review

An extraordinary and moving novel, How to Make an American Quilt is an exploration of women of yesterday and today, who join together in a uniquely female experience. As they gather year after year, their stories, their wisdom, their lives, form the pattern from which all of us draw warmth and…


Book cover of How to Stitch an American Dream: A Story of Family, Faith and the Power of Giving

Amy Latta Author Of Hand Lettering for Laughter: Gorgeous Art with a Hilarious Twist

From my list on for artists and creatives.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an artist at heart. As a child, I loved to draw and to make all kinds of crafts with my mother. Now, I make a living creating and teaching art. From presenting at conferences and workshops around the country to doing segments on lifestyle shows like Hallmark Home & Family, Good Day PA, Great Day Live Tampa, and more, my favorite things to do are those that allow me to share crafty projects. I have also written five hand lettering books and a guided journal, all with the hope of helping others to discover, explore, and express their own creativity. 

Amy's book list on for artists and creatives

Amy Latta Why did Amy love this book?

There’s no way you won’t be inspired by this autobiography of Jenny Doan, creator of the Missouri Star Quilt Company. Filled with tales of family and faith, it tells about Jenny’s creative journey and the way a quilting company revitalized the small town of Hamilton, Missouri. Not only will you find yourself wanting to sit down and have lunch with Jenny, you just may be inspired to try your hand at quilting too!

By Jenny Louise Doan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Stitch an American Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Faith, family, hard work, and second chances are at the core of every great American story, and Jenny Doan's story is just that.

In her new memoir, How to Stitch an American Dream, readers will discover the behind-the-scenes success story of the Missouri Star Quilt Company and Jenny's remarkable journey to overcome hardship, claim the abundance of family, and ignite the power of giving-all while revitalizing a small town along the way.

Over the last decade, the Doan family business, the Missouri Star Quilt Company in tiny Hamilton, Missouri, has grown from Jenny's corner shop--with one quilting machine and two…


Book cover of Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

Susan Goldman Rubin Author Of The Quilts of Gee's Bend

From my list on quilting created by African American women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I first saw the quilts of Gee’s Bend at the Whitney Museum in New York. I was wowed! I viewed the quilts as works of art and included some in a book I was doing, Art Against the Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings. But I wanted to show and tell more about the quilters. Who were these women who dreamed up incredible designs and made art out of scraps despite their poverty and hard lives? Since I never quilted I had to find out how they did it, and realized that quilting not only produced covers for their families, but expressed individual creativity, and brought women together.

Susan's book list on quilting created by African American women

Susan Goldman Rubin Why did Susan love this book?

Clara’s story is powerful and suspenseful. Written in the first person, she tells about her life as an enslaved twelve-year-old girl who has been separated from her Momma and sent from North Farm to the Home Plantation. Although this is fiction, it is based on the history of African American quilters. For Clara, quilting means drawing a map with stitches and fabric that ultimately becomes a “freedom map,” enabling her to escape with her friend, Young Jack, and find her Momma and freedom.  The warm, luminous illustrations by James Ransome bring Clara, Young Jack, and her map to life. Ransome visited a plantation in Virginia for research, and in the process he discovered enslaved ancestors. This book is a must for readers of all ages.

By Deborah Hopkinson, James E. Ransome (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An inspiring tale of creativity and determination on the Underground Railroad from Coretta Scott King Award winner James Ransome and acclaimed author Deborah Hopkinson.

Clara, a slave and seamstress on Home Plantation, dreams of freedom—not just for herself, but for her family and friends. When she overhears a conversation about the Underground Railroad, she has a flash of inspiration. Using scraps of cloth from her work in the Big House and scraps of information gathered from other slaves, she fashions a map that the master would never even recognize. . . .

From the award-winning author-illustrator team of Deborah Hopkinson…