Thursday 28 May 2015

A little quilting history ..... Quakers, Shakers and Amish!

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.

Personally I love patchwork quilts.  When you find a very old one and look at its detail and stitching, it is a wonder to me.  Who made it, when was it made.... it is the history that I love as well as the article its self.

Some quilts have a date on and who made it especially if you are lucky enough to see a Quaker friendship quilt.  When a young woman got married she would often make a quilt to say farewell to her family or if as a couple they were leaving where they lived for pastures new.
 Signature quilts, also known as friendship quilts, were often given as mementos to mark important community events in the Quaker community and there stitchery was more ornate in colours and in the making them pretty process.

Can you imagine bringing back some of these women for a day that made some of these beautiful quilts.  Firstly they would be in awe at how much these items fetch now!  I am sure there would be happiness that most of us want to preserve and treasure such items but they would shake their heads at the amount of money they go for.

Patchwork quilts were made from scraps of fabrics, generally with meaning.  A dress that no longer could be worn or a blanket that had seen better days.  Quilts were about keeping warm.  They were a necessity in keeping the chill out and not really seen as decoration, certainly in the Amish community.

However, during the mid to late 1800s, the Amish began taking to the art of quilting and eventually making it into their own style.  Because the quilt was a useful and necessary item, many Amish quilters believed that it was okay to use the coloured and patterned fabrics while making the quilts because it did not take any more time to make it more beautiful, while still remaining useful.
 As a result, the Amish began developing their own designs and methods for producing their attractive and intricate patterns. Simple geometric designs pieced together with tiny, equally spaced stitches quickly became the Amish quilter's signature style. The earliest Amish quilts used basic squares, triangles, or rectangles using solid, muted colours.  These Amish quilts eventually developed into more intricate designs that used brighter and bolder colours  Popular designs amongst Amish quilters were often inspired by nature, such as flowers, leaves, grapevines, stars, circles, or a mixture of a variety of these Amish styles.

In the Shaker world art and poetry and dancing was not frowned upon at all.  Although they made things that were useful and functional they were also encouraged to add beauty and detail.  The shaker tree of life is a beautiful yet simple thing and I have seen an original drawing made into a print at the Shaker village in America.  They would quilt and there are still quilts made and sold today at the Canterbury Shaker village.  I have several from there but they are small ones and I treasure them.  I have a few table runners made from there as well as some shaker boxes for my stitching. The picture on the left is one I took last year in the Canterbury shaker village shop of the quilts that were there.  Made in the traditional way and not on a machine.... They are beautiful..... Also I have a one with a tree and apples which I will photograph for you to see.  It is a wall hanging and I put it up in the Autumn.

I have ordered a book on the Quaker friendship quilts and I will share with you when it arrives.  I find it a fascinating subject and hope you will enjoy it as well.

Also I have
ordered a particular ruler for a quilt I would like to make ....log cabin style and from vintage linens, embroidery and fabrics with a little added embroidery from me.  I am hoping today it will arrive and I can start cutting out some strips for it.... again I will share with you what I am up to.

Anyway I must away to my stitching and keep an ear out for the postman..... Have a great day and of course as always Happy Stitching!

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