Erica Wilson and the Quilt Revival


From Uncoverings 2015, Volume 36 of the Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group


By: Sikarskie, Amanda

Abstract: Erica Wilson is best known as a teacher and designer of embroidery. Her role in the Quilt Revival of the 1970s is less well known. Through the lens of her television program, Erica, this essay explores several quiltmaking techniques (such as English template piecing, cathedral window, and yo-yo) demonstrated by Wilson in the course of her program, as well as Wilson’s interest in the intersection of embroidery and quiltmaking, including in embroidered appliqué, “quiltpoint” needlepoint, and shisha work for ralli quilts. The author will show that beyond an interest in technique, Wilson also investigated the history (as it was then understood) behind American patchwork and appliqué quilts in Erica. The essay begins with an overview of the program itself, introducing readers who may not remember the 1970s to the role of Erica in shaping the nascent craft television program genre. An appendix provides the full list of Erica episodes digitized by WGBH Boston Media Library and Archives.

Since receiving her Ph.D. in American Studies in 2011 from Michigan State University, Amanda Grace Sikarskie has taught at Western Michigan Univer­sity, including courses in Popular Art & Architecture in America, Western Art History, Native American Art, Museum Technology, Museum Studies, and Historic Preservation. Dr. Sikarskie has held fellowships at the Inter­national Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska, and at WGBH Boston's Media Library and Archives. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Textile Collections: Preservation, Access, Curation, and Interpretation in the Digital Age.