Monday, January 15, 2018

Past Perfect: Jan Patek

Liberty Garden by Jan Patek

This month's Past Perfect star is Jan Patek. 


Jan lives way out west in western Missouri near Kansas City on a small farm where the major livestock is a bulldog or two. She and husband Pep recently celebrated their 48th anniversary.

Eagles & Roses

It would be hard to overstate Jan's influence on a certain style combining muted color, geometric prints, plaids, flannels, innovative sets, stylized florals and stars, stars, stars.

Jan does many things. She interprets traditional design (above, one of my favorites) and she creates new takes that owe something to tradition but are distinctively hers.

The earliest book (1989) I could find with Jan's designs.
Country Days published by Gerry's Red Wagon Quilts but
Jan says she was working with Red Wagon in the early 1980s

She's always been a collaborator, working over the past 35 years with designers like Gerry Kimmel-Carr and Sue Spargo and particularly her design partner in fabric and quilts Linda Brannock.

Jan & Jenny's Garden 
a recent collaboration  with Jenny Doan
 and her long-time machine quilter Lori Kukuk

Linda Brannock (1938-2015)

Linda is sorely missed. Jan recalled working with her in a recent blog post: 
"We both loved the way antique quilts look but you can't really use them so we started overdyeing new fabric to make it look old."
 (I remember doing this too---the new prints in the 1980s were so alarmingly white in figure and ground.)

Coming Home Again, 1985
"I bought that red striped fabric at one of Linda's garage sales, removed the color and then overdyed it - the blue plaid in the border came from one of Brians' - my son's - madras shorts."---Jan

(Rit sold a lot of Color Remover in Kansas City in the 1980s and '90s.)

It wasn't only Jan's muted colors that were distinctive it was the use of woven and printed stripes and plaids, something quite novel in an era of calico quilts.

Standard style about 1980.

The new look came to be known as Primitive. Kansas City was the center. 

United Notions, seeking new directions for their fabric line Moda, found just what they were looking for in Jan and Linda. Jan has been designing fabric for Moda---about 2 collections a year---for over 20 years. 

Jan's collections are now classic Moda style,
classic Primitive coloring. One emphasis
is reproductions of large-scale cretonnes from the
end of the 19th century.

Above the large scale print from Sycamore;
Below from Coral Bells

Coxcombs & Pomegranates by Jan

It's not just fabric that makes a Jan Patek quilt. She is a great draftsperson. She can draw anything and she often stylizes traditional images to make them her own. Like stars...

Design for Harvest Home

And Birds
Garden Kisses & Hugs

And Flags

And trees

Hawthorn Ridge

She often sets her samplers off the grid, another hallmark
of Primitive style.

And even when she keeps close to tradition
her own design sense shows.

Tulips & Leaves & Stars & Bees
A rather recent design

Is that white!?!
She keeps up with the times.

Many thanks to an amazingly productive, innovative designer for lots of inspiration.
Here's her blog: 


  1. this was a nice post, I always enjoyed her patterns

  2. I still have some of that yellow on the Ely & Walker page from my mother's stash. It's on the 2nd row. Love Jan's style and especially her large florals.

  3. I love Jan's work and follow her patterns and kits at her product website, janpatekquilts.goodsie.com. Even though I've done applique, her specialty, and have taken a few classes in it, I rely on her free video tutorials on YouTube for technique and I'll watch a few of them as a refresher before tackling any new applique project. Just search for Jan Patek on the YouTube site. One of the funny things about Jan is that for all the hundreds of quilts she's made, she doesn't like to piece and thinks she's not good at it. She says she has others piece her sample projects for her. If you're doing a Jan Patek design, you might decided to piece some of it instead of appliqueing down that 9" x 9" square in a square for example, if unlike Jan, you find piecing easier than applique. She is a treasure and an inspiration.

  4. Thanks for a great report on Jan Patek! I've loved all her designs and own only a few. It was fun to see some of my favorites on the blog. I love watching her YouTube videos, too.

  5. So glad you featured Jan Patek on your blog. She and Linda Brannock have had an effect on my style choice for many, many years. My first exposure to folk art style and love every minute of it! Kay H

  6. I have some of the blue and the pink on the Ely & Walker sample page, purchased in the late 70's or early 80's. I'm hoarding it for the just the right project. Trouble is that the colors are so different and don't match much now....although the pinks match Fig Tree colors. Love Jan's stuff....

  7. Wonderful post and Jan is a wonderful quilter and designer. I do have most of her books, not sure what old ones I have, but I have the ones you showed.


  8. I love Jan's designs and her fabrics. Thanks for this feature on her work.

  9. Hooray for Jan - what a great feature today.

  10. What a wonderful commentary to a great quilter and teacher. Been a great fan of hers since the old "Girl Gang" days. That's when most of her patterns were printed on grocery bag brown. Still a follower after all these years. Have most of her books and many of her quilts in various stages of work. Her work graces my walls and beds.

  11. I'm a great fan of Jan and participate in her mystery BOM. She dedicates the best part of her day, the morning, to her quilt work, usually appliqué. This shows, to me at least, her professionalism. Her work is important to her. We could all take a page from her book and I too miss Linda Brannock.

  12. I love Jan's work, and sometimes listen to her videos just because it's a pleasant background and I pick up tips. Thanks for this great showcase!

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