Nautical Star Amish Quilt

Back in June I shared a little of what I learned from Janneken Smucker’s talk on Amish quilts at the Elizabethtown Amish conference.

During her talk, Janneken shared numerous examples of Amish-made quilts which defy assumptions (such as quilts with white backgrounds or elaborate embroidery).

Likewise, quilts that Amish produce for today’s consumer market often differ from expectations (solid colors, simple patterns, dark backgrounds) of what makes a quilt “Amish”.

The quilt in the photo below appears to be a good example of just that.  Spotted by a reader in Indiana a couple of weeks ago, this quilt was hanging–and apparently still hangs–on consignment in Good Heritage Books & Fabric in Shipshewana, Indiana (formerly Creekside Bookstore).


The work involved looks nothing short of immense.  The person who took the photo adds:  “It is all hand pieced (not applique) and hand quilted.  It’s an incredible work, obviously made for the resale market!”

The quilt is a Nautical Star design, measuring 109 x 116 inches.  The price? “$4000.00 Firm”.

I’m reminded now of a question Janneken posed to her audience back in June.

“What do you know about Amish quilts?” she asked us.  One person replied: “Some people say they’re expensive…others say they are cheap.”


Given how much work must have gone into this, $4000 may very well be cheap.


A view from behind.


Here you can see the interior of Good Heritage, Nautical Star floating near the ceiling.


And here is the store info.  This is a regular stop for me when I’m in northern Indiana (though I’m more often after the books than the quilts).

So if you’re in the market for a nice Amish quilt (and have a few thousand to spend) we may have solved a problem for you today. 🙂

When it comes to quilts, which do you prefer–the more elaborate designs, or the more traditional patterns?

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    1. Good morning,
      I think that there is an important difference between an Amish quilt and an Amish made quilt. An Amish quilt is a quilt that the Amish would use; the beautiful quilt shown is an Amish made quilt. 99% of quilts in Amish shops are made to sell to English customers and are Amish made.
      Have a great day.
      Tom The Backroads Traveller

      1. Rebecca Haarer

        Your comment is spot on!
        In my lectures sharing my Amish quilt collection
        I find it important to stress this point.
        The quilt shown in this article is a copy
        Of a quilt designed and made by a
        Non Anish quilt maker some 30-40 years ago.
        Somewhere, I have a tee shirt with showing
        The original quilt. I think I have a quilt book from
        The 1980s featuring it too.

    2. Theresa C.

      I prefer the traditional Amish made quilts.

    3. Christine T

      I would prefer one the Amish would use themselves not one made for sale. The quilt pictured is nothing less than stunning but for me, plainer is better.

    4. Janina

      This quilt looks really nice and I can imagine it did take a while to make it… But I would also prefer a more traditional design, but maybe with the colors on this one, because I do love the color combination.

      I’m glad I don’t love the design on this one though, because $4000 is quite a lot… Are all quilts this expensive? What is the average price for Amish quilts or for Amish made quilts?

      1. Janina,
        In the Conewango New York community queen size quilts run from $375 to $700.

        Tom The Backroads Traveller

      2. Quilt prices?

        That’s a good question. From what I’ve seen prices can exceed $1000 in stores and auctions in larger communities. It sounds like they are cheaper in the part of NY Tom is referring to, which makes sense (a little of the beaten path in a tourist and business sense). Of course it also depends on what kind of quilt it is.

        Maybe there should be a Travelocity or Expedia style quilt finder, to compare current prices across the nation 🙂

        1. Janina

          Thanks Tom & Erik.
          I’ll better start saving if I want to get a quilt next time I’m in the US. But of course I can imagine it takes a lot of time to make it as well, so I can imagine $4000 isn’t even really enough.

    5. SharonR

      One Fine Quilt

      OH how beautiful!!! Somehow, $4,000 doesn’t seem quite enough, and cannot imagine how many hours it took from start to finish, to make this quilt.

      I do love the traditional Amish Quilts. Some good places to also see them and purchase, is at “Quilt Shows” in Amish areas. I saw a lot of beautiful ones, in the town of Pinecraft, FL, one year, as I attended the Mennonite Church’s annual Quilt Show & Sale, that was held in February. Beautiful ones, and all HAND MADE, no sewing machine stitches to be seen!

    6. Denise

      I prefer more traditional design. I’ve only made a 9 patch quilt for my daughter’s doll several years ago, and that about did me in! That quilt is worth every penny of $4000. I soon will be starting my first baby quilt for a grandson; it will have a winter theme.

    7. One Fine Quilt Indeed!

      This is absolutely gorgeous. I love nautical stars and would love to own this beauty…but have no real place to display it, plus I live in Florida, where quilts are fairly rarely needed. But it is STUNNING!

    8. Tracy

      GORGEOUS Quilt!

      This quilt is AMAZING, it is stunningly beautiful!As one who quilts and does sewing on a hobby-basis as well as selling my own fiber and other art, this quilt seems very modestly priced (likely under-priced!) for all the MANY hours of work that must have gone into it–especially when all handmade! Of course, this is an Amish-made quilt for sale to the English. Tom the Back Roads Traveller gives a good distinction between the quilts the Amish would use themselves, compared to ones they create for sale. I love all quilts, and I do appreciate the traditional patterns–especially for home use. Being a fiber-lover I can’t help but admire a quilt like this one. My own quilting is traditional with a twist, but often with Amish-inspiration. I’m not up skill-wise to a Nautical Star quilt yet though! ;o) This quilt was wonderful too see! And always a joy to see a feature on Amish arts & crafts here.

      1. Deborah

        Tom The Backroads Traveller

        I went to Tom The Backroads Travellers blogspot. Much of it is very interesting, but unfortunately, he has decided to include politics in his blog. It IS his blog, so he can post whatever he likes, but I won’t be going back.

    9. Dale


      The quilt maker is a true artist. The blending of color is amazing but the knockout for me is that she got those geese to fly in a circle without going off course!
      I don’t believe 4000 dollars is expensive for this quality of work. In fact if that piece was hanging in a gallery instead of in a fabric store the asking price would probably be much, much, higher.
      To put it in perspective our basic work month is only 173 hours long. Just imagine how many hours went into this and then divide by the asking price.
      Thanks for putting this up, it’s wonderful.

      1. Amish quilt value

        Dale I found a similar quilt selling for over twice the price online.

        It looked a little more elaborate/colorful in the materials used, but was also a Nautical Star, and about the same size I believe.

    10. Laura

      That is a truly stunning quilt, although I have to agree it’s not traditional Amish. But oh, if I had $4000, it would be mine! We see a lot of varied sizes of more traditional Amish quilts at the Amish market in Annapolis, from small wall hangings to king sized, and they’re all very reasonably priced — but they’re nowhere near this complex. This one is a true masterpiece of the quilting art!

      Some years back we went to a quilt show (not Amish) and one quilt designer had the most gorgeous all-white quilt I’ve ever seen that she’d designed and pieced the top for, then hired Amish women to do the actual hand quilting. There must have been 20 stitches per inch, it was the finest quilting I have EVER seen. I suspect it was machine-pieced, however, because she was only (only!) charging $2000 for it. The workmanship in the quilting was something that I will always aspire to, but I long ago learned that quilting just isn’t something I’m good at, unfortunately.

      I like all types of quilts, as long as they’re made with love and care. But few can do better hand quilting than the Amish, that’s for sure.

    11. Oh...Wow

      That is a breathtaking quilt! I can only imagine how much the woman who made that must have enjoyed the process. The use of the color and the design… As a quilter, I’m in awe and wish I could complement her on her artistry and skill. I also hope to be such an artist/quilter some day! When discussing $4k, remember, this is fabric art not just a bed quilt.

    12. Christina Foster

      That is one of the most gorgeous quilts I have ever seen! I am in awe of the lady (or ladies) who put this together. The color gradation is pretty amazing as well as all the hand work. As a quilter myself, I am most inspired by the traditional Amish quilts with the dark colors and solid fabrics. However, those are what I make for myself. I have a lot of fabrics with patterns and bright colors that I use and end up giving those quilts to friends.

    13. Mary Yoder

      One Fine Quilt


      Just wondering if I could start a Quiltocity service? I seem to be sitting around quite a bit!!!! haha I could connect the buyer to the seller, hummmm let me think?
      Just talking, Mary

    14. So what is a "traditional" Amish quilt?

      I, of course, am fascinated by this discussion of what makes a good Amish quilt! Some Amish homes today might have quilts on their bed made with puffy fabric paint and elaborate embroidery. Is that a “real” Amish quilt if it’s used in an Amish home? Or is it solely what many Amish disparagingly call “old dark quilts” (and we non-Amish call “classic” and “traditional”)? And even many of those “old dark quilts” are in patterns the Amish adapted from non-Amish quilts and commercially published patterns in the early 20th century.

      1. Traditional Amish Quits

        I have seen many Amish quilts that are either made as the young Amish gal made for her hope chest. She was very proud of her quilt. It had the colors that I have often seen in the day to day clothes for both men and women. I actually was surprised to see the colors in Barbara’s quilt. It had light and dark green, dark and light blue, yellow, turquoise and and patterned purple. It was cut in rectangles and pieced together in a staggered step-like arrangement. She explained that she sewed the pieces together on the peddle powered sewing machine for stitching practice for clothing. She had plans to sew the batting and back piece all together. From there she was planning to tie this quit. This was quite a large quilt. She shared that she made this quilt large enough to drape completely over a queen-sized bed. The purple patterned material had tiny flowers and leaves on it. The colors of this families clothes are Turquoise, Chocolate Brown, Navy, Tan, Purple and 2 shades of Green. Of course the amazing white-white dress shirts and sharp Black for Church and formal events. I also noticed that the Amish quilts that I have seen given for wedding gifts from a mother to her child and spouse is very beautiful as well. The weight of the quilts that they use are commonly a very heavy quilt. Someday soon I will be joining in on a quilting gathering with the Amish family that I am close friends with. I will be among 4 generations of woman in this gathering and know that I will thoroughly enjoy this opportunity.

    15. Marilyn from MI

      One Fine Quilt

      My husband and I just went to a quilt auction this past Saturday just south of Shipshewana, IN. They have one twice a year. This fall sale had about 200 quilts or quilt tops for sale. Of these seven sold between $1,000 and $1,400. They were definitely Amish made for sale. Quilt tops usually went for under $100 and the rest of the actual quilts averaged out at around $300 to $350. Some were traditional and some were aimed at us consumers. We didn’t buy any this year, although we have in the past, both for our own use and to resell. All were beautiful!

    16. rick

      speaking of quilts

      The most expensive quilt last Saturday at the Clinic for Special Children auction in Lancaster went for $4200. It was a Postage Stamp pattern made up of over 5700 individual squares, each maybe 1-1/2″ square or a little larger. That one is always the most expensive it seems, and is made each year by the same woman – this was her 19th for CSC.

      I always make it a point to stop at that store in Shipshewana as well. I noticed last time it was arranged a bit differently. They used to have a large selection of used Amish clothing, but I didn’t notice that this past June.

    17. Barb

      So What Is A "Traditional Amish Quilt"

      Janneken raises some good points. These are strictly my thoughts, based on a few decades of looking at and studying Amish quilts.

      Just as there are different Amish settlements in different states, there are different “traditional” (in most cases meaning old) styles of Amish quilts. The classic Lancaster County Amish quilt features large expanses of wool, rayon and/or cotton fabrics that have been machine pieced and feature beautiful and intricate quilting designs. If you look at pictures of these quilts you will see no black fabric, or only a few tiny pieces in later quilts.

      The “Big Valley PA” Amish quilts tend to be little pieces — mostly 4 and 9 patches, still solid colors, but including brown as their “neutral” color.

      Moving to the midwest (Ohio, Indiana, etc), Amish quilt have a totally different aesthetic — lots of piecing, again using solids, this time mostly cottons, and including black and navy blue as their neutral.

      Then there’s the “Traditional Amish Quilt” style that was invented (in my opinion and observation) by quilting magazines in the 1980s — It combines the bold jeweltone colors found in Lancaster County wool quilts with the abundance of black found in midwest cotton quilts. They created the “Jeweltones and Black Traditional Amish Quilt”. The Amish have never made these quilts — but thousands of people think they are “classic Amish”.

      I love the quilt pictured in the store, and to me, it’s an Amish quilt, because it was made by an Amish woman. I can not make an Amish quilt, because I’m not Amish. I can make a quilt “in the style of a traditional Holmes County Amish quilt”, but it will not be an Amish quilt.

      Just my thoughts and observations from my little corner of southeastern PA

      1. About "Amish Style" quilts

        Hi Barb,

        Your comment is very interesting. I’ve seen quilts such as you’ve described, especially back home in New York when I’d go out to the quilt shops. I didn’t realize what you’re describing about “Amish Quilts” being “invented” by the quilting magazines in the 1980s. You’ve given me something to research, because I have seen the bright colors on black background – but that may have been done because Englishers are expecting it and they sell! The idea that what is considered “Amish” quilting may have been invented for sale strikes me, though the book on Penn. Dutch cooking that Eric profiled this spring (yes, I bought it, Thanks Eric!) does make a point that many of the things that are thought of as “Amish” were developed for some kind of marketing. I guess this could happen with quilting, too. Considering the last quilt top I pieced is “Amish style” with jewel tones on black, you’ve given me something to ponder. Thank you!

      2. Tracy

        Amish Quilts

        Wonderfully expressed, Barb! Your thoughts on the creation and invention of Amish quilts gives us much to think about! So much gets to be marketed or sold around the idea of being Amish. On my cutting table right now are piece for a quilt in brights/jewel-tones and a bit of black, and the pattern has something of an Amish flavor… it will never be an Amish quilt. :o) And that’s OK. It’s good just to be inspired! And it is good to learn about all the ways of Amish quilting.

      3. Very interesting nutshell description Barb. We’ll probably be hearing more from Janneken here, so we might even ask her the same question.

        Your mention of the 1980s magazines reminded me of the various quilt-related media Janneken shared at her talk, some of it dating way back to the mid/early 20th century. From what I recall there was some interesting Amish/Amishesque quilt business going on in the 80s.

        Karen I hope you enjoyed the book. Reading about food usually makes me want to eat 🙂

    18. Holmes County

      When I traveled to Holmes County this past August one of the first things I did was look for a quilt. To my disappointment I could not find one that just seemed plain. They all appeared so fancy and colorful. For my home and particular taste I prefer natural colors with not quite so much flair. I also really wanted one that I could wrap up in on the couch. Every evening I love a throw just for the cozy feel. I did not find one quilt in all the quilt shops we went into. I also tried to go into the ones I new were Amish business only to find them not quite Amish at all.

    19. Slightly-Handled-Order-Man

      I agree with the replies that complement the quilter for her or their artistry. This is a work of art. That is all I can say.

    20. Al in Ky

      I was interested in this post to know that the Creekside Bookstore
      is still open under a new name. I knew it was for sale and glad to
      know that someone has bought it and kept it open. I have been there several times and try to stop by whenever I’m in that area. I like it because it has a different atmosphere from many of the non-Amish owned stores just down the road in Shipshewana.

      1. Good description Al. Even though it’s right in the Ship area, and on the large side, it feels like a store Amish would (and do) visit, not so touristy. I usually don’t leave the area without picking up a book or two here.

    21. Mary Yoder

      One Fine Quilt

      Hi, Just had to throw this in yet, when you talk (especially Barb) about an Amish Quilt or an English Quilt? If an Amish person raises chickens and dresses them out and sells them, are they worth more because they are “Amish Chickens?” Will they taste better than the ones raised on an English farm?
      My English friend used to have so much fun with the term…Amish Chickens. He would ask if they have 4 legs or what makes them Amish? I guess we have more things we can laugh about, yah?

    22. Dee Byers

      Beautiful quilt! I have a Double Wedding Ring done in pinks and greens made by the Newswanger family in 1988. Near Lancaster. Love looking at all the quilts.

    23. Barb

      Mary's Chickens

      No, I don’t think Amish raised chickens are worth more than those raised by others. And they won’t taste better. Just as quilts made by Amish are not better made — some are and some aren’t. And they aren’t worth more. Actually, in Lancaster County, the Hmong do the best applique, not the Amish. It’s all in the marketing. I heard an excellent talk on “Amish Branding”. I’m sorry if I made it sound like I thought Amish quilts were superior to non-Amish made quilts — they are not. I’ve seen well made and poorly made Amish quilts, and well made and poorly made quilts by non-Amish quiltmakers.

    24. Ed

      Not your grandmother's quilt!

      Wow — that is an awesome quilt. I didn’t even realize there are quilt designs like that. Definitely not your grandmother’s quilt.

    25. Rita

      There’s an Amish store near us (in southern York county, beside Lancaster, PA) that sells beautiful quilts. The owner told me most of them run in the $500 range (for a queen or King size) which is much cheaper than quilts that are sold in Lancaster County. An added bonus is that you can request the design and colors you want if there are none there that are exactly what you want. I like her prices much better than the $4000!

    26. Katrina

      Worth Every Penny!!

      How gorgeous!! It is worth every penny and more. I consider this to be an Amish quilt. In art, there are certain artists who are known for groundbreaking works that were controversial at the time, i.e. the Impressionists, Manet, Sargent, Pollock, to name a very few. I see the creator of this stunning quilt as moving the concept of Amish quilt design in a contemporary direction, breaking new ground in how people think of “Amish” quilts.

    27. David


      A quilt created on spec? I would enjoy a 5 minute conversation. Maybe they conceived the idea over a period of time and sharing thoughts. This could be for fun. Maybe they wanted a work as an artistic endeavor.

      The design does seem out of character, and it deviates from one of the traditional quilts attractions, simplicity. I am sure it is wonderfully made. IMHO it seems a bit noisy, and lacks harmony between the shapes and colors.

      1. Nautical Star

        An important thing to know about the Nautical Star is that it is based on a published pattern by a well-known quiltmaker, Judy Mathieson. You can find her quilts, including Nautical Star, here: Mathieson’s Nautical Star was featured on the cover of the book _The Twentieth Century’s Best American Quilts_ by Mary Lemon Austin (see The Amish quiltmaker(s) who made the one in Shipshewana based their design on a published source, as many Amish quiltmakers (and quiltmakers of all backgrounds) long have done. This doesn’t make the quilt any less beautiful, in my opinion. But we should perhaps not give the Amish maker credit for the design, but should give her credit for its execution.

    28. GamGam

      Quality, Value & Authentic

      As a well seasoned Amish inspired quilter, I can say that if this quilt is hand pieced & quilted that hundreds of hours of work went into it not to mention the cost of the materials. So, if this is your taste , then it is a bargain. For the non- quilters, there are certain things that as a seasoned quilter I have learned at quilt shows & sales.

      1) Not all Quilts are as handmade as you may be led to believe they are.
      2) Check around the binding for signs of a label being cut out. There are unscrupulous peddlers of homemade Amish quilts that travel around to Quilt Shows with quilts made in China tagged “Amish made” and priced for hundreds of dollars. I saw this at the Sisters, Oregon quilt show a few years ago.
      3) I know someone who bought a Quilt in Lancaster at an Amish farmhouse business, the quilt was lovely, queen size, cost about $700, BUT … Was made with both cotton and polyester fabric and polyester batting. A big no-no as one shrinks and the other does not when washed. Lesson – Ask about fiber content.
      4) Most Amish & Hand quilters strive for as many stitches we can needle per inch. If you see 4 stitches per inch, chances are good it may not be authentic Amish made but could be made in China.
      5) if looking to buy an Amish Quilt, Ask questions and try to buy directly from Amish, confirm fiber contents & authenticity (my sister Miriam Lapp made this quilt).
      6) Quilting materials are not cheap. We can not compete with Walmart prices. I personally can not whip up a baby quilt by hand (100+ hours) and charge $89.00!
      7) Many sewing machines now come with a “hand stitch” quilting stitch setting. If a quilt looks too exact, it may be machine instead of hand stitched.
      8) If gloves are provided please don them as you look through and handle quilts. Nobody wants to buy the quilts that are stained, oily or dirty around the edges from being handled 100’s of times a day.
      9) Just because it might be an authentic Amish quilt does not mean it is a better quilt.
      10) If you fall in love with a quilt, just buy it so you don’t kick yourself later for not buying it.

    29. Stacy

      I’m not a big fan of quilts* but if I had $4,000 lying around, I’d buy this in a heartbeat. It’s the type of thing I could look at forever.

      *the exception being the ones that my grandmother made