Your quilt can tell a story…where you have been…what happened…the adventures you’ve had…and the memories you’ve made!
I stood on the edge of Bryce Canyon, captivated by the magnificent contrast between the crisp bluebird sky and the warm glow of the hoodoos. I wished there was a way to capture this moment. Out of this desire, my National Park patterns were born.
Making a quilt (or quilts) you can snuggle up in, and remember all your wonderful memories, is a beautiful, and practical way to show off your travels. Each block is a mini work of art. There is no need to preplan the entire layout, or the colors..they will all come together in a spectacular way.
With my National Park Quilt Pattern, you can pair different blocks together to create individual “postcards” to remind you of your amazing trips. Put a story block (or blocks) with a National Park sign block, then put an embroidered park patch or write/embroider on the sign, and you have your ‘postcard’…when you put these all together, they create a beautiful travel quilt!
I’m a firm believer in ‘your quilt, your rules’. Whatever you quilt is your design decision, and it’s the right one! You are a artist, and my goal is to grow your artistic confidence!
Pair a few blocks together to create a story. Don’t worry about the blocks not all being the same colors or size; if they have a similar feel, they will read as one block! Use artistic license. If you have a great fabric, say with fish on it, and you went fishing at a National Park, use that fabric, to tell the story!
The Basic Quilt
Start with the Road Trip pattern. There are 17 mix and match patterns designed to take you from absolute beginner (in either EPP or FPP), to a confident sewer. The blocks are generic enough to be used almost anywhere; they are shown in the picture above. You can stop there if you wish, and use the park signs (that’s the trapezoid shape) to write, embroider or sew on patches from where you’ve gone (or pick them up on your journeys).
Here are some ideas for how to use the basic blocks:
You may be thinking, “I love this pattern, but I’m stuck on how to put it all together.” Have no fear! Here are some of the ideas I’ve come up with! Remember, your quilt, your rules! If anyone questions you, it was artistic license and a design choice!! These blocks may be clear as day to you, or clear as mud, depending on whether or not you have visited that park! Please use the comment section below to add your thoughts, and block ideas! I’d love to hear!! Squash Blossom + Teepee Bent’s Old Fort NHS. William Bent had a great relationship with the Native Americans who traded at the Fort. If you’re familiar with United States history, you may recall that this relationship was exceptionally rare. You can use a teepee, and squash blossom block with your National Park sign to create a block to pay tribute to the First Nations. These 3 blocks could also be used for any of the National Parks that have history with the nomadic tribes. Squash Blossom + Teepee Sandcreek Massacre NHS. This NP tops the saddest and most disturbing parks in our country. It was a terrible time in our national and state history. Using the same blocks as previous, change the color scheme to reflect the innocent blood that was shed. Modern Cross Mesa Verde NP. I’ve used a bit of artistic license with this block. The modern plus/cross is an interpretation of the amazing artifacts discovered at Mesa Verde. You could also add a campfire to symbolize the soot on the ceilings of the cliff houses. It is important to note that you’ll likely want to choose fabrics with smaller prints so you don’t overwhelm the block. Other parks: Hovenweep, Yucca House, Canyon of the Ancients are a few other ideas.
Star Statue of Liberty NM. I’ve paired a star, for the 50 states in the Union, and a flame for the flam in Lady Liberty’s torch. Tie the blocks together with a unifying background. These 3 blocks would also work for Paul Revere’s house as a part of Boston National Historical Park. These blocks would also work for Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Fort Stanwix National Monument, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Andersonville National Historic Site, Mount Rushmore…or anywhere else with national historic importance! You could also use the star for any of the Dark Sky Parks (have you earned that Junior Ranger badge??) There are 23 Dark Sky parks in the NPS!! Sea stars, or starfish, depending on what you’re accustomed to calling them, may not be the first thing you think of with a National Park…but if you’ve collected an embroidered patch from a beach state park…throw it in! Your quilt, your rules! There are, however, a few NPs where sea stars are found: Point Reyes NP, Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Redwood NP and State Park. A quick google search tells me that a fossilized sea star was found at Olympic National Park! Pair that with a pine tree, if that was something meaningful for you!
Stars & Stripes Are you thinking something more patriotic is up your alley? Pair a star with strips, for a mini flag. You can also use the Ohio Star in place of the 5 point star! Either of these would be great for forts, military sites, and many battlefield sites! I have 90 sites noted in the download above!!
Mountains Are you team mountain or team beach? I’m team mountain! Probably because Colorado, where I live, is short on beaches! These two blocks are perfect for Rocky Mountain National, Banff, Glacier, or Grand Tetons National Parks! 54-40 James Polk. In North Carolina, his birth home is a State Park, and in Tennessee, his adult home is a National Historic Site. In the early 1800’s, Americans were eager to settle the west. James Polk’s campaign slogan became “54-40 or fight”, which represented the northern boundary of Oregon. Quilt patterns often reflected the political sentiments of the time, and this block is 1/4 of the full 54-40 design. Use this block for one of Oregon’s National Parks…or a park along the Oregon Trail (Fort Laramie, Homestead, Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff would be perfect! Ohio Star Speaking of Homestead… did you know they have a quilt discovery experience?! Oh man! Talk about a quilter’s haven!! These blocks would be PERFECT for Homestead. The sawtooth star has its roots in Civil War history. This block is also known as the Northern Star. While we’re mentioning Civil War history, the NPS has a great program called “Civil War to Civil Rights“, if you have kids (or are young at heart), you can collect trading cards at NPs that had a part in Civil War to Civil Rights. So this block would fit in perfectly with any of these National Parks. The list of Civil War National Parks is quite lengthy, so I’ll link it here. Cactus While the cactus on the left is not necessarily a Saguaro, it clearly reads as a modern cactus! Use this block for any of the desert National Parks: Joshua Tree, and Death Valley immediately come to mind. (I have 8 parks noted in the PDF above) This is a great block to use up little scraps of fabric! 😉 Look how many parks we have ‘made’ out of only a few blocks! (I have even used this block to make a pumpkin!!) Aspen/Birch Spring in the Rockies is one thing…but FALL in the Rockies is quite another!!! The brilliant colors of the aspen trees is something to behold. Sew a bit of the color into your quilt! Aspen trees are in the Rocky Mountain National Parks (Glacier, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Black Canyon of the Gunnison…)…and their cousin birch are in Acadia National Park. Have you been to Kejimkujik National Park? This would be a great addition to a Canadian National Park Quilt
Think outside the box a bit – these tree trunks could be used for Redwoods, or thick forests, with only a change in the colors!
Pine Tree The pine tree in this image is a bit different from the pattern…Bringing the ideas to a close with the first 13 blocks of the National Parks English Paper Piecing Pattern, use the pine tree block to represent Redwood NP, Sequoia NP, Olympic National Park…as a stretch, Florissant NP, and Petrified Forest NP. I’ve listed 8 in the PDF, but there are soooo many more you can use a pine tree! Whew!! Are your creative juices flowing? I hope so! Fish I’ve listed 16 parks where fishing is part of the park! This block was made and inspired for our trip to Curecanti NRA. Did you know that 900 THOUSAND people visit this long, narrow park per year?! I didn’t know that! It’s a beautiful spot to go hiking or fishing. I recommend the boat tour of Black Canyon of the Gunnison, or a short hike at Morrow Point 😉 However, this block is PERFECT for Katmai (bear block coming soon!!!), Channel Islands, Dry Tortugas, Acadia, and several more! Have fun with color with this block!!! Canoe Are water sports your style? Canoeing or kayaking plays a major part in 32 parks! :O This block is great for Voyageurs, Glacier Bay, Grand Canyon, Arkansas Post, Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity NRA, among many many others!! This was the first block to be 4.5 x 9″. Enjoy mixing and matching with the block!! Covered Wagon If you haven’t guessed, the historic sites are my favorite! I homeschool my kids, and visiting these parks is a GREAT way to make history come alive! I’m also a firm believer that if we don’t learn from history, we’ll repeat it….so visit those historic sites! Bent’s Fort is so fun, because the rangers are in character!! (only irritating when you’re asking a serious question and they answer in character! 🤣) I’ve previously mentioned Scottsbluff and Chimney Rock (Honorable mention for Oregon Trail ruts near Guernsey, WY…with really deep ruts!!!) In the PDF above, I have noted the sites along the Oregon, Mormon, California or Santa Fe Trails with the Covered Wagon block; there are 17. Some may REALLY surprise you!!!
Lighthouse The NPS boasts 28 lighthouses! From Biscayne Bay to Santa Monica Mountains NRA…Fort Pulaski to Hawaii Volcanoes! How many have you been to? Cannon With over 48 places you can use this block, the cannon block can be used. Battles and wars are never fun and happy times. Remember the more somber and sobering moments of our nation’s history with a cannon block. This block features a Dresden plate to create the illusion of a wheel! You can use a solid piece of fabric, or create more detail with a Dresden!
Bear Just under half of the sites in the NPS have bears!! There are a handful of sites in the US and Canada that have polar bears!! This block gives you options for black, grizzly or polar bears!
Download a PDF with all the National Parks, and the blocks you can use. Note that this is a work in progress…and it will be updated. Do you have some suggestions to add? Drop me a note! If you haven’t purchased your National Parks Quilt Pattern, get one now, and start creating your own travel quilt!