Although quilting in one form or another has existed throughout history (knights during the crusades wore quilted layers under their armor,) quilts as we think of them didn't appear on the American scene until the late 18th century and the oldest quilts in the Smithsonian only date back to around 1780.
We continue to research documented quilts from the 1812 era and present the following early quilts from the incredible online quilt reference "The Quilt Index"
Early 1800's quilts were often “whole-cloth” quilts (quilts made of whole panels of fabric, such as the fashionable toile prints.)
Trapunto (stuffed work) and white-work quilts were made.
Bar and stripy quilts were popular too.
Medallion quilts and Broderie Perse (or Persian Embroidery) were very fashionable in the early 1800's (you could even purchase fabric specifically designed to be cut out and appliquéd onto your quilt.)
Or how about this example - sort of a hybrid of a wholecloth and a medalion style!
Click on the links under each quilt photo to read all the details