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New Pathways into Quilt History written by Kimberly Wulfert, www.antiquequiltdating.com

Quilt Historian Interview with:

Pat L. Nickols
Quilt & Fabric Historian

Contact Information:

Pat L. Nickols   
PO Box 9607    
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067


1) How do you prefer to be described as, within the field of textile history?
If you have a business, please tell us about that.

"Quilt Historian & Fabric Historian."  Click to see some of Pat' Nickols' line of fabrics

2)  When and where did you begin your serious interest in the history of quilts, textiles or garments?

"It all began in Columbia, MO in 1977 when I took my first class in quilting.  I loved selecting the fabrics and doing the hand piecing.  I was soon looking at old quilts and tops at our local Flea Market.  I still have the first antique top I purchased.  A year later we moved to southern California and I soon began teaching in Orange county.  While teaching was a pleasure I was eager to learn more quilt history.  Attending the Continental Quilt conferences, the American Quilt Study seminars and doing independent study at museums around the country and in Europe has given me that opportunity."   

3)  What “known” individual (or group) influenced you the most and why

"Sally Garoutte and Joyce Gross introduced me to “quilt history” and the American Quilt Study Group.  I was thrilled to find others interested in learning more about antique quilts.  Cuesta Benberry gave a quilt study workshop at the first (of many) annual Continental Quilt Conferences that I attended and she gave me the insight on how to study quilts.  Sally helped me with my first published paper, Joyce started me on my way to Mary McElwain research and Cuesta has answered so many questions over the years.  She is ever present with her storehouse of knowledge."

4) Who became your personal mentor as you began your learning?

"In addition to the three mentioned above I would add Mary Barton.  She was a great inspiration, she recognized my serious interest and we discussed the various methods to study fabrics, their dating and documentation.  Our exchanges were ongoing stimulus to me."

5)  What aspect of study were you most passionate about at first ?  How has this changed over time and why?

"Dating and documentation.   The vast variety of prints, and their documentation has fascinated me and that intrigue has continued.  Who designed and produced the fabrics, where and when was this done, are the questions I continue to ask.  It is very satisfying to put a mill, general time frame, or even a date with a print."

6)  What is your current “pet project”?

"Which one?   Charm quilts, string quilt, quilts made from sacks, are big but there are always about 6 ongoing research projects with another big group sitting in folders on the sidelines."

7)  What aspect of your research or contribution to textile studies has satisfied you the most?

"Seeing my research findings published and used by others has and continues to give me a great deal of satisfaction.  Gathering pieces of a puzzle is a long, often solitary journey.   When you assemble information that others recognize and can use to support their   ongoing quilt study it is gratifying.

"Must also include producing authentic reproduction fabric.  Working with a great team at P & B Textiles, Inc. we have been able to print two collections of very real looking reproduction fabrics.  Work already begun on Collection III.  What a thrill to be able to cut into newly printed fabrics of early 1800s prints to make quilts that look like that era."

8)  Within the textile arena, what would you like to do, but haven’t done yet?

"Publish; several books and some articles - information I have gathered through research often with interesting illustrations.  I would like the opportunity to share what I have learned to enable others to use and build on my findings."

9)  Any further comments are  invited.

"We are still in the early beginnings of quilt history, I believe.  There is much to learn as we put many parts of the puzzle together.  The State documentation projects and the books they have published are most helpful, the quilt history books from other countries have added a great deal of information, but the continued exploration and contributions by individuals is most important."

Please describe (in a list) the contributions you have made via books, exhibits, presentations, contests, articles, fabric lines, research papers and the like.


2003 Books & Magazines
Where I have been noted or listed as reference:

Wisconsin Quilts – Stories In The Stitches, Ellen Kort 2001 p.172,178


Miller’s Treasure or Not? How to Compare & Value AMERICAN QUILTS, Stella Rubin 2001 p.169,176


Down By The Old Mill Stream, Linda Welters 2000 p.223, 273


Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine, Janet J. Smith June 2000 p.55


Charm Quilts With Style, Bobbie A. Aug & Sharon Newman 2000 p.8


Piecework, March/April 1997 p.57                                                    
Charm Quilts
, Beth Donaldson 1997 p.5


Old Nova Scotian Quilts, S. Robson & S. MacDonald 1995 p.33,109


Uncoverings,  American Quilt Study Group 1995 p.131,169


Uncoverings,  American Quilt Study Group 1994 p.165-166


American Quilter,  Winter 1994 Vol.X,No.4 p.24                           

Folk Country Home Crafts,  August 1994 p.30


Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World’s Fair,  Merikay Waldvogel & Barbara Brackman 1993 p.120


The American Quilt: A History of Cloth and Comfort 1750-1950,  Roderick Kiracofe 1993 p. ix, 232


History From The Heart: Quilt Paths Across Illinois, E. Duane Elbert 1993 p. 230


New York Beauties: Quilts From The Empire State, Jacqueline Atkins 1992 p.145


A Joy Forever: Marie Webster’s Quilt Patterns, Rosalind Perry 1992 Preface p.7


Quilts In Community: Ohio Traditions, Ricky Clark 1991 p.166

Southern Quilts: A New View, Bets Ramsey & Gail Andrews Trechsel 1991 p.95


Quilts: A Window to The Past, Victoria Hoffman 1991 p.45


Soft Covers For Hard Times, Merikay Waldvogel 1990 p.107


Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them (new edition), Rosalind Webster Perry 1990  Preface viii


Ho For California: Pioneer Women & Their Quilts, Jean Ray Laury 1989 p.113


Pieced By Mother: Over 100 Years of Quiltmaking Traditions, Jeannette Lasansky 1987 p.116


Quilt Collections: A Directory for the United States and Canada, Lisa Turner Oshins 1987 Preface


The Quilts Of Tennessee: Images of Domestic Life Prior to 1930, Bets Ramsey & Merikay  Waldvogel  1986 p.106


Forget Me Not: Friendship & Album Quilts, Jane Kolter 1985 p.77-78


2003 Books & Magazines - published work

American Patchwork & Quilting Magazine - Better Homes & Gardens, October 2002 issue, Toile, then and now, Article, quilt, pattern and reproduction fabric illustrated 
p 54-57

Line of Reproduction fabric – Pat L. Nickols Collection II, circa 1840 with P&B Fabrics, Inc. introduced at Quilt Market May 2002 Kansas City, MO.    8 patterns with 27 pieces in the collection. Patterns are from my collection of antique fabric and an antique quilt of 1840s.

Blanket Statements, Fall 1999, newsletter American Quilt Study Group, The Glorious 1840s: New Fabrics, Old Designs p 1 & p 3.

Line of Reproduction fabric, Pat L. Nickols Collection, circa 1840 with P&B Fabrics, Inc. Introduced May 1999 Spring Market, Portland OR.   8 patterns with 29 pieces in the collection. Patterns are from my collection of antique fabric and from two of my quilts, dated 1833 & 1845.

PieceWork Magazine, Interweave Press, July/August 1997 Charm Quilts 5 pgs, Charm Quilt pattern – Patriotic mini-quilt 3 pgs.

Uncoverings, 1996, The American Quilt study Group, Charm Quilts: Characteristics and Variations, 1870s-1990s p.179-208

On The Cutting Edge, Oral Traditions Project, Jeanettee Lasansky 1994 The Use of Feed, Flour, Tobacco, and Others sacks in The 20th Century, p.96-101

PieceWork Magazine,  Interweave Press,  March 1993  What's at Hand: Using Cotton Sacks in Quilt Making  p.48-54

Uncoverings,  1991,  The American Quilt Study Group,  Mary A. McElwain:  Quilter and Quilt Businesswoman  p.98-117

Uncoverings,  1988,  The American Quilt Study Group,  The Use of Cotton Sacks in Quiltmaking  p.57-71

Uncoverings,  1982,  The American Quilt Study Group,  String Quilts,  p.53-57

Thank you very much Pat, for sharing yourself with us today, and for the many insights we have gained because of your research in this field.  We look forward to future lines of reproduction fabric too.  Continued success to you.


* Women (and Men) at Work

© 2002 - 2016 Kimberly Wulfert, PhD. Absolutely no copies, reprints, use of photos or text are permitted for commercial or online use. One personal copy for study purposes is permitted.

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