You might have noticed that our new CONESTOGA CROSSING BOM starts this month at your local quilt shops, so we went behind the scenes with Pam Buda to learn more about her project:
Q. Tell us about your inspiration for Conestoga Crossing. Did the quilt design influence the fabric prints and colors, or vice-versa?
A. The inspiration came from a working vacation my husband and I took to Idaho and Wyoming a few years ago. I’m very interested in the pioneer women who made this arduous journey, which was much tougher than we think. We followed the Oregon Trail for many miles, enjoying stops along the way with markers and information about the Trail. A park ranger also guided us into the foothills so we could see the wagon ruts that were still there and walk them as they did so many years ago!
Which came first? The quilt design influenced the fabric choices for sure. I wanted to focus on red, black, gold and green as the primary colors, then decided to add just a few blues for a bit more color. I wanted several pretty light print tone-on-tones, especially for the big center of the quilt, but also added light prairie style prints that really represent the 1800’s when the Westward migration was happening.
Q. The quilt features a border of basket blocks – is this common to the era of the Oregon Trail?
A. Block quilts are truly an American invention and they slowly came into being in the first half of the nineteenth century. The means of sharing information, even in published newspapers and books, was so very slow that it took a long time for blocks to be seen and for creative women to begin to play and invent them. The Basket blocks in particular were likely around toward the latter half of the nineteenth century, and they are still as popular today as they were then.
Q. The overall design is so outstanding, it just might attract someone who’s never done a BOM program. Any advice or tips for a first-time BOM quilter?
A. My advice is to be organized and take your time with it. Conestoga Crossing may look difficult but is relatively easy to piece and assemble. If you’ve made a few quilts, you’ll be just fine piecing this one. Keep all extra fabric you may accumulate each month for any mistakes that may happen, and definitely seek out advice from your local quilt shop. There’s so much support there, not to mention loads of gorgeous Marcus fabrics!
Q. Aside from a gorgeous quilt, what do you want quilters to gain from this BOM experience?
The patterns include historical information on the California/Oregon Trail experience from its beginning to end. Quilters will surely gain a real sense of what it was like to leave home and arrive in Independence, MO, the beginning of the Trail, walking the thousands of miles, cooking, camping, birth, sickness, and death. How they dealt with different challenges along the way like homesickness, dealing with bad weather, broken wagons, crossing rivers. Not surprisingly, friendships were made among families. Eventually each family had to make the decision to go to California or Oregon, possibly separating from new friends. And finally, arriving at the end of the Trail. I hope you all enjoy the history, the Prairie fabrics and quilt blocks that take you back to the days of the Oregon Trail!