Sunday 7 June 2015

Friendship and signature quilts and history .... Part two

What I make with my hands, I give of my heart

Well part two of this little toe dip into the history of friendship quilting concentrates on the Mormons and   because they really were very good at keeping record of things and it wasn't just about family bibles or parish records but about containing family records in a most beautiful and practical way indeed, quilts.....

Because a relative of mine became a member of the Later day Saints  and made that arduous journey to Salt Lake City and one of their children, Louisa, took up this art I wanted to do a little more digging.  My family who set sail from England to America were part of the Mormon group who only took one wife.  ( this does make it easier when doing genealogy, I can tell you!)

It seems within my family that Louisa not only made quilts for all her daughters and daughter in laws but also belonged to groups where they would sit and stitch together.  Quilting, therefore, became a social activity where they would stitch, gossip and share pattern designs and the labour of big quilts.

Reading a great book  about Mormons and  quilting I would like to share with you a quilt that was made by Betsy Williamson Smith who  immigrated from Lancashire in in England to Colorado on the ship the Horizon.... She came with her mother and and six children as her father had gone on ahead.

It is the most beautiful star quilt in greens, blues and pinky reds...It has diamond stars placed just so to make the most wonderful pattern and for the maker was a great achievement as she was often in poor health.
 Betsy married Silas Sandford Smith Jr in 1873 and followed him wherever the Church took them all the while working on this beautiful quilt. The colours and the pattern are beautiful.  Here is a close up of one of the panels...

It seems that an awful lot of women who migrated would stitch and quilt and using fabrics from clothes that were too badly off to be mended or had been grown out of.  Little bits of their history contained in a beautiful quilt that would then keep them warm and cosy. Lots of these quilts had family history or names contained within their fabric pieces.  All were worked by hand and probably in terrible conditions.  I know from reading about Betsy that she made a really difficult journey.  Betsy left  Iowa City in late July and did not arrive in Salt Lake until November the 30th!!! can you imagine what she had to endure.

I am so amazed at the hardships that these women, children and men who travelled to the new country to practise their beliefs and what beautiful things they made along the way.  The book that I have bought is called Quilts and the Women of the Mormon Migrations.... treasures of transition.  It is by Mary Bywater Cross and I bought it from Amazon.... this is a fascinating book and makes me wonder what my family went through on their journey.  I am pleased they got there and settled happily as so many did not.  I have written and email to a family member (Louisa's descendants) to see if they have any photos of quilts that she made..... I will keep you informed.

Well I am now off to my stitchery and after reading about these ladies and looking at their work I am even more fired up over my quilt and the memories that will be contained within in it for future generations to come.....

Have a wonderful day and lets hope we have great weather ...... then I can do some stitching in the garden!  Happy Stitching!

Quilts connect the past with the present and the future.

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