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Category:  Hobbies

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What’s In A Quilt

By Arend Tibben

Quilts are colorful bed coverings made by sewing together pieces of cloth into different designs. Quilts were more than warm protection against cold winters. Quilt making provided women with an important form of creative expression and invention. Quilts frequently celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, and retirements and a number of the winning entries commemorate such events. Quilters come together at quilting bees to work on coverings together and to enjoy socializing.


Many quilts are made with decorative designs;, some quilts are not used as bed covering at all, but are rather made to be hung on a wall or otherwise displayed. Crazy quilts are a popular form of quilt design. The stitches can be made in such a way as to form detailed patterns or designs on the quilt. Patchwork quilts are made from many pieces of different colored fabrics that have been sewn together, or "pieced," in a design. A quilter can also sew different pieces of fabric onto the top of the quilt to form designs. Quilts designed to be used as bed coverings should exceed standard mattress size by a minimum of 20 inches on the width and length.


Brightly colored quilts are made in virtually every American community, and they are proudly displayed in homes as well as in museums throughout the nation. Why, after many years of near invisibility, have African-American quilts become so engrossing to art historians, folklorists, ethnologists and quilt historians. African Americans have made quilts in this land continuously from the late 18th century, yet their work is conspicuously absent from the many published accounts of American quilt history. Several factors, products of the times, form the basis of the current explorations of African-American quilts. High drama was associated with early research on African-American quilts. Most exciting of all was a linkage between black American quilts and African design traditions believed to indicate an unconscious cultural memory in the quilt makers of their faraway motherland. African-American quilts became one of America's newest forms of exotica. Visual criteria for recognizing African-American quilts (stitch length, asymmetrical organization of quilt patches, size of patches, frequent use of bright colors) were devised. One needed only apply the recently created visual criteria to identify with certainty quilts of African-American origin. How could this small sample of late-20th-century African-American quilts represent in its entirety the contribution of thousands of black quil tmakers working at the craft over two centuries. What should one think of African-American quilts, made over such a long period of time that did not conform to the aesthetics-based identification. The casual answer that African-American quilts not in compliance with the criteria were simply copies of white-made, traditional Euro-American quilts was unacceptable. More and more questions about African-American quilts emerged as quilt historians realized that findings gathered in these early studies of black-mad quilts had been extrapolated far beyond what the evidence would legitimately support. Further research began to place African-American quilts in the larger context of black history.


Quilt making provided women with an important form of creative expression and invention. While quilters have many tools and techniques to choose from to facilitate the process, the truth is that making a quilt, particularly a prize-winning quilt, takes time and personal commitment. Some had done other kinds of sewing and needlework, and they found quilt making a natural extension of their skills. Others learned from church groups making quilts for charity. Quilting in early America was far different than it is now.


Through history, cultures around the world have created quilted coverings and clothing. The study into quilt history is a rapidly growing area of research in American history: the important role women played in our history; domestic life in the 18th-20 centuries; development of the textile industry in the Asia, India, Europe and America; the purpose for making quilts; their pattern and style development over time; current reproduction fabrics; and last but not least, dating a quilt or a single piece of fabric by its dyes and the method used to print it. Quilts also reflect social history, such as the westward expansion, pioneering on the Plains, wars, political and religious campaigns and symbols, working women, interior design through time and more. It is a wonderful way to learn about history.


It is clear from these responses and the original essays, that the process of making and sharing a quilt can achieve many purposes, reflect many and complex meanings and relationships, and warm and comfort the spirit as well as the body. But I am only one of countless many to find inspiration, comfort, warmth, and sustenance in the beauty, history, and folklore of quilts.

About the Author: When you have the same warm feeling for quilting but don't know where to get information or how to start please post a question and I will do my best to answer you asap. Please post your comment here When you can't wait to start and want to make a stunning patchwork quilt then I have an easy method for you.


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