Mariner’s Compass Quilts

Handmade by the Amish of Lancaster County

The Mariner’s Compass quilt remains one of our most popular patterns: the fractured beauty of the compass rose blazes from these quilts, whatever color or fabric our quilters use. While this pattern is hundreds of years old–the first known quilt dates from 1726–our artisans and our customers still love its timeless style.

Mariner’s Compass Quilts: Crafted Traditionally, Made in Community

We employ local craftspeople to design, piece, and quilt these works of art. Each quilt is entirely handmade, from cutting the quilt blocks to binding the edges of the quilt. We bring together artisans for different steps of the process–one sews the quilt top; others stitch it together; and still another finishes the edges. Every part of the process recalls the way quilts have been made for centuries.

Connecting the Past and Present: Mariner’s Compass

The Mariner’s Compass quilt pattern has been known and loved among dedicated quilters, only the best of whom could manage the intricacies of stitching the precise points of the compass or star, as it was variously known. While most early quilts were simple, the Mariner’s Compass quilt was complex, and often was reserved for special occasions.

While other patterns may suggest a star pattern, the Mariner’s Compass name specifically refers to quilts in which the star radiates from a circular center. The roots of this pattern are hard to trace. Barbara Brackman writes of the many names used for this pattern, including The Explosion, the Merry Go Round, the Rolling Pinwheel, the Slashed Star–even Chips and Whetstones. Each name suggests what quilters saw as they stitched their quilt tops!

Quilt pattern books began to use the Mariner’s Compass name, widely accepted today, around the 1960s; its first published use was in 1929. Various historians, knowing the pattern’s popularity in the American northeast, have suggested that seafaring folk saw the compass rose on nautical maps and reproduced it on their blankets. The Pennsylvania Germans picked it up, adding brighter colors and patterns.

How can you purchase a quilt?

We’d love to help you choose a Mariner’s Compass quilt for your home or loved one! Click on the links below to buy our quilts available online. You’re also welcome to stop by our store to browse through our selection. If you have any questions, please let us answer them! Call us at (717) 354-1772, email us at sales@familyfarmhandcrafts.com, or fill out a form on our website.

If you’d like to see other handmade crafts, we have a lovely section available to browse on our website or in our store in East Earl, PA. You’ll love the artistry and value of our home decor, handmade soaps, and other fine art.