Quilt Blocks with a Story: Jane Austen-Inspired Patchwork

Quilt blocks that tell a story have always intrigued me. Scrap quilts, for example, tell the story of quilts that came before, and T-shirt quilts tell the story of a life or hobby.

With the A Chawton Cottage Romance, the quilt-along inspired by the Jane Austen at Home collection from Riley Blake, the concept of “story block” takes on a whole new dimension.

As a Jane Austen fan, having fabrics that are reproduced from an actual quilt (well, in reality, a coverlet) sewn by Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra is just…really cool. One of their brothers had a household large enough to employ a dressmaker, and most of the fabrics Jane and Cassandra used were scraps sourced from there. (To learn more about the coverlet, you can read this blog, or, even better, visit the Jane Austen House Museum at Chawton Cottage and see the quilt itself!)

Because the fabrics were so special, it felt like the quilt design needed to dance with them.

And so A Chawton Cottage Romance was born.

Each block simply must tie in to one of the novels. But how?

Northanger Abbey—The Log Cabin block

The first block, the Log Cabin, simply felt right with Northanger Abbey.

Northanger Abbey was Austen’s first novel, even though it wasn’t published until after her death. The story plays on the popular Gothic novels of the time. The main character, Catherine Morland, sees herself as a heroine of such a shivery tale, and intrigues swirl around her.

How perfect for the Log Cabin block! The center unit is like Catherine, with all those intrigues swirling.

Pride & Prejudice—The Jacob’s Ladder block

Perhaps Jane Austen’s best-known, best-loved novel, Pride & Prejudice revolve around clever Elizabeth Bennet’s less-than-smooth romance with the arrogant Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Complications of class, the intrigues and foibles of family and friends, and the uncomfortable truths of pride and prejudice make this novel a delight to read. 

I love how the Jacob’s Ladder block just worked out for the 5 Bennet sisters. You have 2 Four-Patches with red squares—Elizabeth’s two sillier sisters dancing with red coats?—and 3 Four-Patches with blue squares—Elizabeth and her two other sisters, climbing the social ladder.

Emma—The Pinwheel Galaxy block

Emma was the last novel Jane Austen saw published in her lifetime, and it pairs so perfectly with the Pinwheel Galaxy block.

Unlike Austen’s other novels, the main character, Emma, is an only child. She is beautiful, clever, well-intentioned, and rich… and entirely too used to having her own way.

Events conspire to reveal that there’s more to the world than Emma’s will. And It’s up to Sir John Knightley to show her the truth. 

The entire neighborhood of Highbury revolves around Emma, dancing to the tune she sets. The Pinwheel Galaxy block is as complex as Emma herself—and the dance and tune are delightful. 

There’s something so appealing about revisiting the stories as I sew. The Chevron block and Mansfield Park, the border and the unfinished Sanditon, Birds in the Air Block and Persuasion—all of them gained new meaning as I work on my blocks…


Learn more about A Chawton Cottage Romance, the quilt-along inspired by the Jane Austen at Home collection from Riley Blake and sign up today! Enter by October 20th for a chance to win the fabric of Jane Austen – a $70 value!