Book Reviews and Endorsements




Bob Burke
Author of 76 books on Oklahoma


Many books are expected to be published during the next year’s celebration of Oklahoma’s first century. One of the most innovative is Judy Howard’s book, Centennial Stitches—Oklahoma History in Quilts (Dorcas Publishing, $39.95). As the title indicates, it is a panoramic view of the history of our state through quilts.

Howard owns Buckboard Quilts in Oklahoma City and has published photographic collections of quilts before. Because she networks with other quilt-makers in the state, she has access to interesting stories behind particular quilts.

Quilting played a major role in Oklahoma’s first 100 years. Ladies gathered at neighbors’ homes and quilted beautiful and useful quilts for protection from the hard winters. At “quilting bees,” ladies caught up on the latest community news while using their prowess with needles to make something worthwhile.

Former Governor George Nigh wrote in Howard’s book, “My grandparents’ home in Hartshorne was the scene of many such gatherings. Frankly, I’m not sure what the living room looked like without a quilting frame.”

What makes Howard’s book so special are the stories about the quilts that are featured. There are family stories of revered mothers, aunts, and grandmothers along with photographs of quilts that literally reflect the bold and exciting family history of pioneers who made a new home in a new land—Oklahoma.

The examples of Oklahoma history being told artistically in the stitching of a quilt are many. One quilt in the book was designed by Oklahoma Native American sculptor Willard Stone. Another quilt was made for Frank Phillips’ wife as a friendship quilt—the names of her friends and family members were embroidered between the blocks of material.

Other quilts memorialize schools or public buildings that had special meaning to families. There is a beautiful quilt showing the Sequoyah Indian School, long since gone from the Oklahoma landscape. There are also quilts depicting the state seal, the state bird, and the industries that have kept Oklahoma’s economy moving.

Happy times, sad events, and momentous family occasions are remembered with quilts of every color and hue. However, behind every quilt is the story of an Oklahoma family and the hearty people who made our first century possible.

The book proves my theory that Oklahoma’s incredible story is not about places and events—it is about our people.

For anyone who loves the artistic interpretation of quilts or enjoys inspirational and exciting stories about Oklahoma history, Centennial Stitches—Oklahoma History in Quilts will be a valuable addition to a centennial book list for reading and viewing.

"Centennial Stitches celebrates the immense contributions of Oklahoma's quilt makers, past and present, who created quilts that are often symbolic and spiritual. They gave women a fraternity and provided a lasting bond in the early 1900s when life on the Oklahoma red dirt prairies was far from easy."Excerpt from Introduction by M. J. Van Deventer, Editor of "Persimmon Hill" magazine and Director of Publications for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. 

 "Thanks Judy. You've done our state proud on our 100th birthday."
Excerpt from Foreward by Mary Fallin, Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma

Centennial Stitches beautifully describes the important way that quilts preserve our history and enrich the quality of our lives. My own experience is that for many years I have slept under a quilt made by my great-grandmother. It’s a comforting reminder of her love and her strong religious faith which continues to inspire me. Congratulations on a great book.”
President David L. Boren,
University of Oklahoma, former Oklahoma Governor and U.S. Senator.

The Heavenly Patchwork books prove my theory that Oklahoma’s incredible story is not about places and events—it is about our people. The awesome collection of stories put together by Judy Howard presents a panoramic view of Oklahoma’s heritage seen through the eyes of mothers, grandmothers, and local characters. Around a quilting frame were birthed many individual and family decisions that shaped our history. Every facet of family and state history is memorialized somewhere on the pieces of material that became a legend through the tenuous and careful work of fingers and hands that made a difference.”
Bob Burke, author of sixty-six books on Oklahoma.

“As a boy, I was happiest when wrapped in one of several family quilts, the origins of which are left to the dim recollections of assorted aunts and uncles. I was less interested in their provenance than I was in their coolness and the colorful assortment of colors, squares and circles that represented family and safety. Judy Howard has done a marvelous public service. She shares the story of Oklahoma through the creativity and joy of Oklahoma’s long line of quilt makers. Hers are truly quilt stories stitched with love.”
Frank Keating, former Oklahoma Governor

“For someone who has never in his life quilted, I certainly have seen my share of Quilting Parties and Quilting Bees. My grandparent’s farm in Hartshorne, Oklahoma was the scene of lots of such gatherings. Frankly, I’m still not sure what the living room looked like without a quilting frame. But I certainly know what the faces looked like of the wonderful ladies who shared so much of their lives and preserved so much of our history. What passion and what commitment! I am pleased that ‘Quilting Fever’ is still among us and there are those who help spread the virus. What joy, what heritage and what beauty! And now you can read all about it and not have to thread a needle.”
George Nigh, Former Oklahoma Governor

“There’s nothing more comforting than being under a wonderful soft quilt and even more fun when you know the story behind it.”
Donna Nigh, Former First Lady, State of Oklahoma

“Centennial Stitches records our state’s unique heritage seen though the eyes of our courageous pioneer women.”
Lee Allan Smith, Events Director of the Oklahoma Centennial Commission.


"Make a quilt -- warm a heart.  This book, Heavenly Patchwork, proves how a quilt can provide solace in times of need.  It makes me proud to be a quilter today."  - Georgia Bonesteel

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"The inspiring stories in this book are sure to warm your heart and soul." - Jenny Beyer, author, fabric designer, teacher, lecturer and winner of 1978 Great American Quilt Contest

"I feel in my heart that each of the quilts that you tell about, each quilt that has been made and given away has a story to tell."  - Helen Kelley, author of Every Quilt Tells a Story, and Helen Kelley's Joy of Quilting.


"What a wonderful, inspiring book and how touching the stories.  Sometimes I think the world has no idea of how much quilters touch the lives of others.  Many local organizations are now making quilts that are donated to the military for the returning wounded service people.  Other groups are making quilts for the Sharp Hospital Burn Camp for Kids, for the Cancer Camp for Kids, for Children's Hospital, and a host of other organizations in need.  We know how much these quilts mean to the recipients, and we know in our hearts how good it makes us feel to be able to create and donate them.  Heavenly Patchwork tells this story over and over, and is a great source of comfort and inspiration.  And what a great gift for Mother's Day!"  - Betty Alofs, designer, teacher, author, Betty A's Designs

"Curl up with a cup of coffee and read these heart-warming true stories - sure to touch you, lift your spirits, provide a laugh and add joy to your day!"  - Jan Krentz, quilt teacher, author, designer

"I have known Judy Howard more than six years.  Her quilts for charity, prayers and Christian business ethics are very evident.  The stories she is collecting all have a common thread:  Women sew quilts with a prayer in every stitch that the one who uses the quilt will be well and safe."
- Sharon Newman, author of 14 quilt books, teacher, appraiser, lecturer and former owner of The Quilt Shop in Lubbock, Texas.

"This collection of stories bring us the history of everyday women though the memories of each storyteller.  It is books like this that historians of tomorrow will go to for a sense of quilts and quilters of the past."     - Judy Anne Johnson-Breneman, quilt history enthusiast, writer

"One of the great privileges of working with quilters and being part of the quilting industry is seeing, first-hand, the compassion that surrounds us collectively.  Judy Howard's collection of stories is a beautiful example of heartfelt efforts to provide peace and support to those most in need.  Quilters have a keen ability to comfort and sooth, but also strengthen, always while creating the patchwork that binds us together."     - Beth Hayes, Editor, McCall's Quilting


"Quilts hold so many stories, if they could only talk.  They help get us through the good times and the bad times, and hold those memories for us.  I love reading these stories of strength and courage and how fabric helps get us through.   - Katie Pasquini Masopust, teacher, lecturer and author of art quilts


"Written with religious conviction, the book Heavenly Patchwork conveys the meaning of quilts within the context of giving and receiving via short stories that are fun to read.  They recap an event or time when needed comfort was provided by a quilt.  For inspiration, most of the stories are followed by a Biblical quotation.  Reading the tales makes me happy to be a quilter."
- Patricia L. Cummings, Quilter's Muse Publications


"Quilts chronicle the lives of those who made them and those who have used them through the years.  Enfolded within each and every quilt, embraced between the layers, are touching narratives.  Ms. Howard has collected some of the best and offers them to us in her wonderful book!    - Susan Talbot-Stanaway, Executive Director, Museum of the American Quilter's Society, Paducah, KY


"All quilts have a story to tell and what could be better than a collection of these stories?  Wrap yourself in your favorite quilt, have a box of chocolates within reach and settle in for a wonder read!"   - Janet Jones-Worley, teacher designer and author of Quilts for Chocolate Lovers


"In the pages of Heavenly Patchwork, you'll find heartwarming stories from women who have experienced grace through quilts.  There is comfort in cloth.  Who has not felt soothed when wrapped in a quilt lovingly made just for them?  Or how many times have you gotten through a difficult period in your own life by keeping your hands busy stitching?  I believe we are to love one another and comfort one another.  And if you are a quilter, God can use that talent to bless others.  Let these stories inspire you with messages of hope, mercy, comfort and God's ability to sustain us in our time of need."   - Rhonda Richards, Editor, Oxmoor House

"Quilts represent everything good in our lives - love, comfort, generosity, warmth, home, memories, creativity, beauty.  Heavenly Patchwork explores the meaning quilts have in the lives of their makers and recipients.  Your purchase of this book will bring the comfort of quilts to thousands more through the charitable work of dedicated volunteers who make quilts for children, hospitals, homeless shelters - all people and places which need the touch of love quilts represent."  - Nancy Kirk,

"I'd like to paraphrase a quote from my own book, Quilting To Soothe The Soul, to endorse Judy Howard's wonderful book, Heavenly Patchwork:  'When there is joy or stress in your life, turn to your needle and let the labor of your hands work through the images in your heart.'  Judy's book exemplifies all the good feelings of acceptance and resolution quilting brings to the quilt maker and receiver.  It is a 'must have' addition to any personal library!"  - Linda Carlson, author,


"Your wonderful book proves my point -- every story in life is a quilt waiting to happen.  I enjoyed your nice stories and the idea of sentiments and things that make our hearts feel good.  Keep up the good work.  I think it is wonderful that you are giving your proceeds to quilting people who share their gift."     - Mary Lou Weidman,


"It has always been my hope that each and every quilt be a product of the maker's heart as well as her hands.  The quilts featured in these stories are special because they were created with love, gifted with love and received with love, continuing the tradition of quilt making in the best possible way."     - Judy B. Dales, quilt maker, teacher, author, lecturer


“This is the perfect book with which to curl up with a hot cup of tea and enjoy all the heart-warming stories by women like us.  We each have a story to tell, and each of these stories delivers a message of comfort.      -Esterita Austin,



“Heavenly Patchwork from Judy Howard is a feel-good book full of heart-warming stories that bind all quilters into a patchwork of love and caring.  You'll want to read this too

k again and again!”      -Kathy Delaney, author of Hearts and Flowers-Hand Appliqué, A Heartland Album, The Basics-An Easy Guide to Beginning Quiltmaking, Horn of Plenty for a new Century, and Patterns of History-The Challenge