Monday, November 1, 2010

Q is for Quilts

Wilendur, U.S.A. Linens
Whole Cloth Quilt (1750-1850)

Pieced Patchwork (1780-Present)

Crazy Quilt, Victorian era (1880-1910)

Tied-together Patchwork Quilt

Dresden Plate Quilt (Begun in 1974, by me, when I was 17. Still a work in progress)

The history of quilts began in ancient Egypt and China, with blankets made by stitching together three layers of fabric, with batting in the middle for warmth. Quilts were used in the 11th C as padding for protection beneath armor, and it was the very wealthy European women who had the luxury and time to do needlework strictly for pleasure. It is believed that the first American quilts were most likely Whole Cloth Quilts made by layering a solid top to a bottom with batting in between and elaborate stitching holding the piece together. Quilts were made as necessities for life and the notion of gathering together for fun in quilting bees was essentially a myth. Since fabric used was basically cast-off clothing, many earlier quilts were Appliqued with patchwork and a center design surrounded by borders of multiple pieces of cloth. Quilts provided comfort from the elements of the weather, warmth from drafty domiciles, and privacy partitions for rooms within. The women of this early period relished the emotional comfort of a favorite quilt on a bed, as a symbol of an orderly, peaceful life. It was the growth of the textile industry in 1840 that made fabric so readily available and accessible. As the century progressed, women had more luxury of time to be creative and take on a project as an expression of their talents. In 1876, the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition with its Japanese pavilion exposed the Victorians to Asian inspired art forms and ultimately influenced the direction of arts and crafts, as well as interior and exterior designs. As a result, Crazy Quilts, with their asymmetrical designs and pieced embroidered scraps of velvet, brocade and silk, were in vogue and created expressly for display. Although the designs appear haphazard, they were carefully planned and painstakingly pieced together. As leisure time was now a part of a woman's life, many styles and forms of quilts evolved, from simple tied together to elaborate patchwork. Quilts were and are pieces of artwork to be used and cherished.


Counting Your Blessings said...

I have an odd affinity to vintage quilts. If they are reasonably priced I always pick them up. Have found some good deals at but the best are the ones that my mom or grandma have given me =)

Blessings.. Polly

Christine E-E said...

stopping by to check on your ABUNDANCE post... WOW! I would say you have an ABUNDANCE of knowledge about "quilts"... and probably a stack of QUILTS...
Love that I learned some history about quilts on your blog post...

cath c said...

thank you for this! i recently took up quilting after a lifetime of letting it and the wonderful quilters i have known to intimidate me. i have to say, my first one came out pretty well, and completely handstiched. my daughter loves it.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

I love the quilts but the old faded ones are my favorites. I am not a quilter but my sister is and she spends hours and hours making the most gorgeous quilts that are auctioned off for Relay for Life. I can't tell you the money they have raised. I am a Wheeler too. :)

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