{NSM} Cruise and Use the Quilt Index

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Let’s give a warm welcome to Amy Milne, joining us from The Quilt Alliance to kick-start National Sewing Month and sharing her favorite tool: The Quilt Index.

National Sewing Month -The Sewing Loft

Cruise and Use the Quilt Index—a Powerful and Portable Tool for Inspiration!


I spend most of my time in the studio behind my computer. As executive director of the nonprofit Quilt Alliance my days are filled with a lot more typing and talking than hands-on creative work. I promote and manage Alliance projects like Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories, and partner projects like The Quilt Index. Seeing that the work of quilters past and present is documented, preserved and shared is an honor and a joy–I love my job!

I was thrilled to be asked by Heather, a new Alliance member, to be a guest blogger in her series on favorite sewing tools. I had to fess up right away though-
with family and a full-time job, fitting sewing time into my life is challenging. I don’t sew or quilt regularly these days and only keep up with the amazing tools and gadgets out now because of my job. I could pick my seam ripper, I thought, but that may reveal a little too much about how familiar I am with un-sewing.

The Quilt Index

And then it hit me, I know a tool that should be in every quilter’s toolbox: The Quilt Index, a virtual museum of more than 52,000 quilts guaranteed to get your creative heart pumping. The Index is a joint project of the Quilt Alliance, Matrix: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University and the Michigan State University Museum. The Index was developed in the early ’90’s to be a centralized online resource of quilt information gathered by state documentation projects, historical societies, museums, guilds, and private collectors. The project launched online in 2003 and continues to add quilts contributed by public and private groups and individuals from the U.S. and all over the world.

I’d like to show you how I maximized my rare and precious creative time recently by browsing The Quilt Index for inspiration. I had been interested in trying a Dresden Plate block ever since my friend Michele Muska of Simplicity Creative Group and EZ Quilting let me try out their Easy Dresden template (here’s a tutorial for the tool on Simplicity’s website). I felt pretty confident that I could use the template to construct a simple Dresden block, but uneducated and uninspired about what I might do with the design to make it meaningful and fun.  I knew I wanted to up cycle some old clothing and scraps, add some tiny rickrack from my grandmother’s stash and make a bold graphic statement; now I just needed a virtual muse, or 52,000.

Video; Cruse & Use the Quilt Index: Browse by Pattern
Watch how I used The Quilt Index to browse over 1,000 Dresden Plate beauties to create my wee block called Dresden Doily: an Ode to The Quilt Index (pictured below).

Dresden Doily -The Sewing Loft


Give The Quilt Index a try today and let me know if it becomes a favorite new tool for you. And as far as inspiration goes, of course it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the everyday stuff in your life too. You never know when those abandoned toys and overgrown herbs in the yard are going to creep into  your dreams, and your quilts! 😉


Links and Loves



Look for the Quilt Index To Go mobile app in iTunes!

Quilt Index To Go on iTunes

Check out the Alliance’s annual small quilt contest. This year’s quilts are house-shaped and are on a national exhibition tour now and will be auctioned on eBay starting Nov. 12. We’ll announce the new theme by the end of September.  Here’s a photo of this year’s Handi Quilter Grand Prize winning quilt, “Quilting Makes My Heart Blossom” by Margarita Korioth. More information.

Quilting Makes My Heart Blossom

Join us for Quilters Take Manhattan on September 15- an eduction and inspiration fundraiser for the Alliance in the Big Apple. More information.

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Stop by tomorrow when Becky from Patchwork Posse shares her favorite tool and fun project!


  1. I wouldn’t consider myself a quilter but looking through the index is inspiring and such a great resource for any creative type!

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