posted on August 26, 2013 by Isabella Alan

Hand Quilting: How Hard Can It Be?

murderplainandsimpleI consider myself a crafty person. I can use a glue gun with the best of them, and I know the difference between a knitting needle and crotchet hook. So when I had the opportunity to write the Amish Quilt Shop Series for Penguin, I thought I could handle it. True, I hand never hand-quilted before, but I had made one queen-sized tie quilt (that’s a quilt that instead of stitching it together you use pieces of knotted yard to keep the backing, batting, and top together) and a half dozen applique wall quilts on the sewing machine. Hand quilting couldn’t be that hard, could it?

For my novels, I feel like I need to understand my protagonist as much as possible. So if my main character was a sky diver, I probably would go sky diving. If she swam with sharks, I would do that to. Note to my editors: there is about a zero chance I would write main character that swam with sharks. I watch Shark Week and like all my appendages right where they are. However, I am willing to leave sky diving on the table.

In the Murder, Plain and Simple, my main character is Angie Braddock, and Angie is a quilter. She just moved to Ohio’s Amish Country because she inherited her Amish aunt’s quilt shop. The inheritance could not have come at a better time because her Dallas attorney fiancé just called off their big Texas wedding. Angie needs to move somewhere to recover from the breakup. What better place to do than in the quiet of Holmes County, Ohio, which is peaceful until the dead bodies start showing up.

P1030606-quilt (2)Angie is a talented quilter, but in Texas, she did most of her quilting on machine. In Ohio, she wants to embrace the Amish tradition of quilting by hand, so she starts to re-learn the craft she knew as a child growing up in Ohio. This was convenient for me because Angie and I can learn hand quilting together.

Angie took her fictional lessons from her aunt’s Amish friends. I took my lessons from a friend and master quilter named Charlotte. Charlotte is a very patient woman and let me mangle her beautiful quilt over and over again. She told me she could always rip out my poor stitches. You can watch my very first hand quilting lesson on YouTube.

By this point, Angie the character is a pretty good hand quilter. Me? I’m… ummm… still working on it and have a brand new respect for all those Amish ladies who quilt every last stitch by hand. They are truly talented artists who deserve all the praise but are far too humble to take it.

Be sure to check out Plainly Murder and Murder, Plain and Simple at your local bookstore or library!


It’s SUPER SEPTEMBER! Amanda Flower (also writing as Isabella Alan) has three novels releasing in September 2013. To celebrate, she is giving away an authentic Amish Quilt hand-stitched by Amish in Holmes County, Ohio.

Enter to Win an Authentic Amish Quilt from author Amanda Flower! Click here to Enter!

Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest

Follow Amanda’s alter ego Isabella on Facebook



Isabella Alan

Isabella Alan

Isabella Alan is the pseudonym for Amanda Flower. Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.

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