Sunday, September 12, 2010

History of Quilts

click the picture to see these products up close and personal!

There is something so comforting and old fashioned about a handmade quilt.  Each quilt is full of history with each of the scraps it contains.  I've recently gotten tired of my store bought quilt, and I've decided to try my hand at my first quilt.  It's an overwhelmingly big project, but I'm excited to make my very own.  A quilt seems like such a personal project, and I'm overjoyed at the thought of getting rid of my sterile Target quilt, and replacing it with something I made, out of things that remind me of home.

The quilt does not quite have the history and origins that I initially assumed.  Quilting seemed to me as old a past time as any in America, and also a working class endeavor to use everything one has.  An old fashioned way of recycling.  Although quilting did become what I just described, its origins greatly differed.

The life of the colonial American woman was difficult and full of household chores, including weaving and spinning their own cloth.  The average colonial woman could not make time in her day for the detailed leisure activity of quilting.  Only upperclass women had the time and extra cloth to stitch the decorative bed coverings.

The advent of the industrial production of cloth during the industrial revolution made ready made cloth readily available, and granted women more time to use cloth creatively.  After this period quilting became closer to the modern interpretation of the craft.  Quilting became a way of being thrifty, and remembering the past, family, and friends.

During western expansion, women moved away from everything they knew to make a new life thousands of miles away.  In correspondences with friends back east many of these women would include quilting patterns and sometimes even scraps of cloth to include in quilts.  Sharing quilting experiences allowed women to continue relationships across wide distances.

The history of quilting is of course much longer and more complex than just these few facts and stories, but these few stories make me want to become a part of the world of quilting.  Stay tuned to see how these encounters with quilting go!

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