Quilting:  Born of Necessity – A Labor of Love

Quilts

A quilt consists of two layers of fabric sandwiched around a filler material such as cotton, down, polyester or wool. This filler fabric serves as insulating material. Quilting is the process of joining or fastening the layers together with tiny stitches that run in plain rows or decorative patterns. When combined, the three layers form a cloth bedcover.

Born of Necessity

Quilting is an ancient craft that dates back to Egyptian times and was introduced into Europe at the end of the eleventh century. The craft flourished in The United States during colonial times, as immigrants practiced the skills they had brought over from Europe. Quilts from this era were born of necessity, as the blankets brought over by the colonists wore out. Because fabric was scarce, women would stitch scraps of fabric over worn spots. These scraps of fabric, salvaged from worn-out clothes, old curtains, and beloved blankets, were sorted and arranged to create decorative patterns. Often, women would come together to sew at social gatherings called "quilting bees." These gatherings provided the women a social outlet, and at the same time, sped up the production of the quilts "born of necessity." So began the early art of "patchwork."

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During the mid-1800’s, when fabric became easier to obtain, quilting developed into an art form. Quilts from this era showed off a wide variety of fabrics and colors. "Album quilts," which bore verses, quotations and personal stories were given as gifts of remembrance for family or friends who were moving west. Traditional "Patchwork" patterns, such as "Double Wedding Ring, Log Cabin and Bear Paw" were designed and named to commemorate events in our country’s history. "Crazy quilts" consisting of pieces of silk of various colors, shapes, and sizes were sewn together in random patterns.

A Labor of Love

Indeed, many quilts from the past and present have become valued keepsakes. As in colonial times, the colorful designs and brilliant patterns of quilts are still popular today. Today’s quilters have a wide variety of materials and techniques available to them, allowing them a wide range of creative expression in an age-old art. Technology has brought a new dimension to quilt making, yet some quilters choose to continue the traditional, timestaking technique of hand quilting. Quilts produced in this fashion are considered "a labor of love." Today’s quilts, still used as bedcovers, are also used to commemorate special occasions, raise money for special projects, and decorate by hanging on walls.

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