Sweet Childhood Memories Quilt

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Through the years, a number of variations to the original pattern were made. Quilters today are able to alter the overall effect of the block by changing color combinations and the use of light and dark fabrics within the pattern.

The homesteaders watched the migration of flocks of geese and created quilts with that in mind. Although the triangle shape is used in hundreds of other quilt designs, in this quilt block, triangles represent the geese. Pioneer women expressed their artistic abilities and creativity in the way they arranged the triangles or geese, and in the colors they used. That may be one reason why the Wild Goose Chase pattern has at least 14 variations.
As a result, 270 million acres of land, owned by the Federal Government, in 30 states, was offered for homesteading, thus creating the Westward Movement, one of the largest migrations of people in our nation’s history.Many Log Cabin patterns were worked in two color schemes, lights and darks, divided diagonally in the middle. This represented the sun’s east to west movement in the sky. As the sun rose, its light shown on the cabin, creating the light side of the block. As the sun traveled west, part of the cabin was left in the shadow, creating the dark side of the block. This is often called the Sunshine and Shadow pattern.The importance of quilts in women’s lives was best expressed in the statement of one 19th century homesteader, Lydia Roberts Dunham, who said, “I would have lost my mind if I had not had my quilts.”A quilt historian says that quilts had characteristics so localized that they could be classified geographically almost as easily as the Yankee twang or the southern drawl. But as the homesteaders traveled West, blending together on the trail and in the new territories, the patterns became intermingled and renamed.

What is the oldest surviving quilt?
Russia. The oldest surviving example of a quilted piece is a linen carpet found in a Mongolian cave, dated to between 100 BCE and 200 CE. It is now kept at the Saint Petersburg department of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Archaeology Section.
During World War II, quilts were a way to raise money to support the Red Cross. The Signature Quilt was especially popular. Business people, store owners, and community citizens paid a small fee to have their names embroidered on quilt blocks. The finished quilt was raffled off with all proceeds going to the Red Cross. These quilts now serve as fascinating community records.The name, Log Cabin, comes from the narrow strips of fabric, or logs arranged around the center square. Each fabric strip or log was added to the pattern in much the same way logs were stacked to build a cabin; and because the straight lines and small pieces of the pattern could utilize almost any fabric scrap available, it often became the final step in the recycling of fabric.

What is the name of the oldest known quilt?
The Tristan Quilt-One of the Oldest Quilts in the World.
By the early 1900’s, magazines went a step beyond publishing patterns. Some had a column where readers could share favorite patterns and new ones they had designed. Quilters were no longer restricted to only quilt patterns known in their region. From bustling city to lonely farmhouse, women could be making the same quilt.Quilting allowed women to escape from the hard work, rigors and drabness of their everyday routines. With 7-8 women gathered around the quilt frame, a quilting bee, offered an excellent way to socialize.

During the 1800s, there was a custom for a young girl to make a baker’s dozen of quilt tops before she became engaged. This collection consisted of 12 utility quilts, and one great quilt, which was pieced or appliqued, as a show piece for a bed. The Rose of Sharon was often used for the great quilt. Many young women traveled West as brides, their great quilt folded safely in a trunk.
Putting a Friendship quilt on the bed, gave a woman a sense of connection with her former way of life. It kept alive the memory of family and friends, providing comfort and company during the difficult days of homesteading.Through the years, women have been closely connected with political issues. Women listened to the men, and from their discussions, formed their own opinions. Their needles became their pens; their quilts their texts.

Why are quilts so special?
Quilts hold memories of the materials used to create them. The fabric may be scraps collected over years or exchanged among friends, pieces of old clothing, bits of ribbons or lace, homespun or manufactured.
These designs also marked the realization that a child was a unique and distinct personality with special interests of their own. No longer were crib quilts miniaturized versions of adult patterns.This same theme is possible to create in a pieced quilt. Baskets, with flower designs, were a popular motif among quilt makers from approximately 1850 on, as they could be easily adapted to suit individual tastes, fabrics and color combinations.

Follow the Quilt Discovery Experience to learn more about quilt making, the history of quilts, and how quilts truly are documents of our American history.
On the prairie, sewing was an essential skill. Young girls learned to sew blocks before they learned to read. At an early age, often as young as 3 or 4, girls were taught to piece simple blocks such as the Nine Patch. Many were very skilled at piecing a block by age 5.Sunbonnet Sue was one of the most popular patterns to emerge in the early 1930’s. Sue had first appeared with her part-ner, Overall Bill, as outline embroidery in the late 1880’s. Pat-terns for applique appeared around 1910. Feedsack prints were often used to create Sue’s dress and bonnet. A personalized quilt would feature fabric from a child’s dresses.This block was popular during the Depression when quilt making was almost a necessity, as women were forced to return to frugal homemaking once again. The hexagon provided a way to use small fabric scraps, and was a cheerful reminder of colorful flower gardens, a much needed lift during hard times. The number of hexagons in the finished quilt and their size were a matter of pride for the quilter.A star pattern is not an easy design to cut or sew. Precision is extremely important as any inaccuracy in cutting or piec-ing is multiplied as pieces are added. If poorly pieced, the quilt will not lie flat when finished. An intricate star pattern was one way for a woman to show her needlework skills.The Log Cabin block is one of the most well-known and popular of all patchwork patterns. To pioneers traveling West, it symbolized home, warmth, love and security. The center square of the block was done in red to represent the hearth, the focal point of life in a cabin or home.

Patriotic quilts have been made ever since the Revolutionary War. They portrayed love for one’s country and celebrated American heroes such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Quilts featuring the American Eagle enjoyed wide popularity from the late 1780’s until the 1840’s, were revived during the Civil War and again for our country’s Bicenten-nial.
There are hundreds of star patterns. Some quilts have just one large radiating star, often called the Star of Bethlehem or Blazing Star, while in other quilts, dozens of smaller stars are used. The simplest and most popular star pattern is an eight-pointed star.Nineteenth century quilts were primarily practical; beauty was secondary. Quilts served as window and door coverings. Hanging quilts on the dirt walls of a soddie, made them seem more homelike. Quilts could serve as privacy walls, creating sleeping areas in a soddie, or one room cabin. Quilts folded and laid on a board placed between two chairs or tree stumps, became a sofa.The Nine Patch is one of the simplest and quickest quilts to sew, and because it was a good way to use up every small scrap of fabric available, it was used often.

During this period, quilts with juvenile themes for the nursery and young children emerged. Embroidered picture quilts, done in turkey red on a white background were very popular. Quilt themes were taken from nursery rhymes, story book char-acters, alphabet blocks, or folk tales. The quilts were crib size and were often used to teach children to sew or embroider.

Edith White, who grew up in the mid-1800’s remembered, Before I was 5 years old, I had pieced one side of a quilt, setting at my mother’s knee half an hour a day. This training was called fireside training.
Making utilitarian quilts fell out of favor in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as America became more industrialized and technology brought improvements to the home.

What is the most famous quilt?
Stickle Quilt is probably one of the most famous quilts in America, if not the world. It captured the hearts and imaginations of quilters around the globe because of Brenda Papadakis’ book Dear Jane, with its warm and imaginative romanticising of Jane Blakely Stickle’s story and the making of this extraordinary quilt.
The Crazy quilts or throws of this era featured rich colors and textures and were used to decorate the parlor. Skill in fine embroidery was emphasized. Victorian quilters filled their quilts with bits and pieces of their personal past; a piece of father’s vest, a husband’s tie, lace from a wedding veil, or ribbons commemorating political events.The Whig Rose is another name for this pattern. It is thought the name came from the 1828 Presidential election. The newly formed Whig party hoped to beat out Democrat, Andrew Jackson. The Whig party dissolved in the mid 1800’s, but the pattern name lived on.

In the early 1900’s, windmills pumped water for livestock and made life on the homestead easier. Because of its importance to the homesteaders in their everyday lives, the wheel was often a favorite quilt pattern.

Many times the quilt maker deliberately sewed a mistake somewhere in the quilt. It is thought, by some, that this reflected the maker’s faith in God; for only God can make a perfect thing.The quilts the homesteaders brought with them were a comfort to these women who traded their home, family and friends in the East, for the uncertainty of traveling through vast prairies in the West. A quilt that held special value to the pioneer women was the Friendship Quilt.

The Churn Dash pattern, for example, has 21 different variations and names. But, whatever the name, one can be certain it was meaningful to the maker, for even the simplest quilt represented a considerable investment of time and energy. And when the cold winter winds blew snow through the chinked cracks of the log cabin, a quilt was a welcome cover, whatever its name.
The Schoolhouse block was often a variation of a house or church pattern. Most featured a side view of the building and were either pieced or appliqued. Depending on the skill of the quilter and time available to her, crosses in the windowpanes and outlines of the doors could be added. Quilting was not just a woman’s activity. Over the years, men have also been quilters. In fact, when they were boys, at least two presidents, Calvin Coolidge and Dwight D. Eisenhower, helped their mothers piece quilts. Often it was done is secret, and then given to the woman as a going away gift. It usually was a group effort, with each block being sewn by a friend or relative with their name embroidered in the center. Although other colors were used, blue and white became the Temperance Union colors: white for purity and blue for water, the purest beverage available. Sewing for a cause is an old tradition. Women made quilts to raise money and consciousness, both to promote the abolition of slavery and to promote women’s rights. Women across the country were also involved in the Temperance Movement. By 1907, The Women’s Christian Temperance Union had 350,000 members.Prohibited from voting, the Drunkard’s Path was a popular way for a woman to express her opinion on alcohol and its use. It appears that more quilts were made for this cause than for any other.

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, quilt making took on new significance. The government took all the wool produced for commercial use, and actively urged citizens to make quilts using the slogan, “Make Quilts-Save the Blankets for our Boys Over There.” As a result, many utilitarian quilts for home use were made. These quilts soon earned the nickname of, “Liberty Quilts.”
By 1890, catalogue sales included quilt patterns. If a woman ordered her yard goods from Sears or Wards, she could purchase any of 800 designs for just a dime. The quilt patterns or blocks that are displayed in the Quilt Discovery Experience were in the quilts used by pioneer women as they traveled West and homesteaded the prairie. They also depict other popular patterns used in 1862, and in successive years, until the Homestead Act was repealed in 1986. One of the oldest applique quilt patterns is the Rose of Sharon. The Rose of Sharon, mentioned in the Bible, might actually refer to a wild tulip that grows today on the plains of Sharon in Palestine. When the Bible was translated into English, the word rose was used in place of the word tulip.

When a quilt became so badly worn around the edges that even rebinding could not rejuvenate it, a seamstress would cut it down to eliminate the worn areas, or rework it into a child’s quilt. Any quilt was too precious to discard.Women used quilt designs to make their political statements. Patterns, which for years had Biblical or household names, were given relevant names by women who had social concerns on their minds. The pattern known as Jacob’s Ladder became the Underground Railroad. The renaming of the Job’s Tears pattern to Slave Chain, demonstrated northern women’s political sentiments.

Many of these quilts were made using quilt kits which could be ordered through catalogues. Some of the kits supplied patterns and instructions. The more expensive kits included pre-cut fabrics. These saved the quilters hours of work, as the pattern used hundreds of small pieces which needed to be cut exactly for the pieced quilt to lie smoothly when completed.
The variety of patterns seems almost endless, from baskets with handles to those without, to those with appliqued fruit and flowers added to the pieced basket, to pattern variations including Broken Sugar Bowl, Cake Stand, Flower Pot and May Basket.

What is the most valuable quilt in the world?
Reconciliation Quilt The most expensive quilt ever sold at auction went for $264,000 in 1991. “Reconciliation Quilt” is a Civil War-era quilt now at the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska.
The practice of using quilts as burial shrouds was fairly common among westward travelers. Wood was often scarce for coffins, so families used what was available and appropriate. Wrapping a loved one in a quilt was a way of not only preparing the body for burial, but of giving reassurance to the living that the decreased person was still linked to his or her family. A quilt that carried a Biblical name was a source of comfort, and with their enduring faith, kept the family going.

Why is quilt so expensive?
Quilts are expensive because of the labor required to make them. Quilts require pieces of fabric to be evenly cut and sewn together to get the basic shape of a blanket. Then that piece must be sewn together with batting, backing, and binding to create a finished blanket.
For the homesteaders, wheels were vital to their lives. They were the basis of their transportation. Wheels were used in sawmills and in gristmills where grain was ground into flour or meal.Many refer to quilts made during this era as feedsack quilts, because quilts were made by recycling the sacks that had been used for holding grain and seed. Women saved and traded the feedsacks to get the colors and patterns they wanted. Often, they would send a scrap of a specific feedsack with their menfolk, when they went to town, to make certain they returned with the desired pattern and color. Bishop, Robert, Secord, William, Weissman, Judith Reiter and Ketchum, Jr. William C. The Knopf Collectors’ Guides of American Antiques Quilts. Chanticleer Press, Inc., 1982. Before printed patterns, quilters would sew a block together, as a way to give each other the pattern. Later, sample blocks, in cotton or silk, could be ordered from catalogues.Broderie perse refers to the technique of cutting motifs from printed fabric and appliquéing them onto a solid background. This form of quilt making has been done since the 18th century. The popular printed fabric during this period was chintz imported from India.

What is the purpose of a quilt?
Quilts provide warmth and comfort when lounging on a sofa or chair, so they are usually found resting on the back of an armchair or couch. Quilts can also be placed on top of a bed as a decorative accent.
Medallion quilts are made around a center. The center was sometimes a solid piece of large-scale fabric like a toile or a Tree of Life, an appliqued motif or a large pieced star or other pieced pattern. The central area was surrounded by two or more borders. Although some borders were solid, many were pieced or appliqued.A more complete survey is needed to compare all of the wholecloth quilts held in the many museum locations who have collected such textiles. Many early quilts did not survive the test of time or were discarded, or if they survived, the name of the quilter was lost to history. For a time, the trend in wholecloth quilting was a preference for all-cotton white quilts.

Why is it called a quilt?
The word ‘quilt’ – linked to the Latin word ‘culcita’, meaning a bolster or cushion – seems to have first been used in England in the 13th century. The earliest quilting was used to make bed covers: very fine quilts are often mentioned in medieval inventories and frequently became family heirlooms.
In the 1940s and 1950s many farm feeds were delivered in sacks. These sacks were printed with all sorts of designs. Feed sacks were used to make thousands of quilts.Early wholecloth bed quilts which may appear to be a solid piece of fabric are actually composed of strips of fabric, since early looms could not produce widths of cloth large enough to cover an entire bed surface. Early quilts that feature the same fabric for the entire quilt top, whether that top is made of dyed wool or pieces of (the same) printed cotton fabric, are referred to as wholecloth quilts. Early wholecloth quilts have three layers: a quilt top, a filling (in early quilts the filler was often wool), and a backing. The three layers are held together via quilting stitches worked by hand, in an age before sewing machines were marketed. In wholecloth quilts, the quilting stitches themselves serve as the only decoration. The earliest whole cloth quilts found in America were brought from Europe. Initially, quilts were owned by the wealthy in America who had the means to purchase imported quilts. The history of quilting, the stitching together of layers of padding and fabric, may date back as far as 3400 BCE. For much of its history, quilting was primarily a practical technique to provide physical protection and insulation. However, decorative elements were often also present, and many quilts are now primarily art pieces. In the North, quilts were still made for fairs but now these fairs earned money to support needs that came about because of the war. In the South, “gunboat” quilts were made to pay for much-needed gunboats.

In the South, quilt-making was more difficult because although cotton was grown in the south, it was manufactured into fabric in the north. Before long, fabric was almost impossible to obtain so women had to spin and weave before they could sew a bed covering together. Regardless of their construction, most of the quilts made for soldiers on either side were made with practical patterns and fabric. Due to heavy use, very few have survived to the 21st century.The oldest surviving example of a quilted piece is a linen carpet found in a Mongolian cave, dated to between 100 BCE and 200 CE. It is now kept at the Saint Petersburg department of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Archaeology Section.

A great variety of cotton prints could be bought to make clothing and even specifically for making a quilt. Although scraps left over from dressmaking and other sewing projects were used in quilt making, it is a myth that quilts were always made from scraps and worn-out clothing. Examining pictures of quilts found in museums we quickly see that many quilts were made with fabric bought specifically for that quilt.
The Buckingham Quilt surfaced in 2014. It was made by the wife of Reverend Thomas Buckingham, one of the founders of Yale University, and passed down through nine generations. It is among the oldest wholecloth quilts made in America (circa 1660s).The collection of the Lovely Lane Museum in Baltimore, Maryland contains a quilt believed to have been carried onshore by the Cogswell family who embarked from Bristol, England en route to Bristol, Maine in 1635. Once the passengers were safely on shore, the galleon “Angel Gabriel”, moored in Pemaquid Bay, was completely destroyed when the Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 rushed up the coast from Naragansett, Rhode Island, leaving the ship as just a mass of floating debris after it was hit with the strongest winds ever recorded.

It wasn’t long before it was obvious that soldiers on both sides would need blankets and quilts for warmth. In the North, women either made quilts or remade quilts from bed coverings. Since the cots were narrow, two bedspreads could be made into three quilts for soldiers. The United States Sanitary Commission was in charge of collecting and distributing them.Some block style quilts were made of a set of identical pieced blocks while others contained a variety of blocks made with different patterns. The blocks were sewn together and a border may or may not have been added. In Europe, quilting appears to have been introduced by Crusaders in the 12th century (Colby 1971) in the form of the aketon or gambeson, a quilted garment worn under armour which later developed into the doublet, which remained an essential part of fashionable men’s clothing for 300 years until the early 1600s. Often these quilts provide the only decoration in a simply furnished home and they also were commonly used for company or to show wealth. Amish religion discourages individual expression but quiltmaking has allowed Amish women to express their creative natures without giving offence. The Amish communities have always encouraged activities that promote community and family closeness so quilting became a fundamental part of social life for the women of the community. Quilts are created for everyday use or to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, raising funds for the church or community cause. Since the “English” (the name for non-Amish people) discovered Amish work in the late 1960s, quilting has become a source of income for many. Their quilts have become collectors’ items all over the world.Many of the beautiful surviving wholecloth quilts feature feather designs, outlines of flowers, or are based on other designs taken from nature motifs. Some were made even more exquisite by the use of stuffed and corded quilting, a method sometimes called trapunto. Trapunto is an Italian word used to describe the technique of slipping extra stuffing into certain areas of a quilt to create areas of raised motifs that stand in relief. For example, stuffing placed inside the quilted outline of a feather or flower makes the design stands out. Women were sometimes proud of their finely wrought and evenly spaced quilting stitches in their wholecloth quilts. This type of quilting seems to be experiencing a revival today and some quilt stores sell pre-marked quilt tops ready to be layered and quilted, either by hand or by machine.Contemporary quilting has evolved to include a broad range of functional, decorative and artistic styles that incorporate ever-expanding techniques and tools. Many quilters have experimented with creating or dyeing their own fabrics, incorporating experimental materials into their designs and conceptually challenging the notion of what quilting is or should be. Advances in technology such as long-arm quilting machines and computer programs for mapping quilt top patterns and colour schemes has significantly widened the gap between contemporary and traditional quilting. There is currently a thriving resurgence in quilting. Thousands of videos of quilting techniques and tutorials have been made and shared online by people from around the world, continuing the tradition of quilting as a social and artistic space where people have connected over countless generations

One of the earliest existing decorative works is the Tristan Quilt, made around 1360 in Sicily. It is one of the earliest surviving quilts in the world and at least two sections survive, located at the V&A Museum (London) and in Bargello palace (Florence). Another of the Tristan and Isolde story is held in a private collection.
Quilt making continued to be a popular craft during the latter part of the 19th century. The English Victorian influence was slightly delayed in the United States because of the Civil War and its aftermath.

Printed fabric was expensive even for those who were well off. By cutting out birds, flowers and other motifs from printed fabric and sewing them onto a large homespun cloth, a beautiful bedspread could be made. The technique was also used on some early medallion quilts as in the example.
During this period the invention and availability of the sewing machine contributed to quilt making. In 1856, the Singer company started an installment plan so that more families could afford a sewing machine. By the 1870s, many households owned a sewing machine.

Some abolitionists were active along the Underground Railroad and helped runaway slaves get to safety. There is a popular myth that maintains that certain quilts were used as signals to help slaves in their flight to freedom. For example, a log cabin quilt might be hung on the line of a safe house. However, historians dispute the accuracy of these stories. In fact, the only reference for these underground railroad quilts is a single book (Hidden in Plain View by JACQUELINE L. TOBIN and RAYMOND G. DOBARD) written over 120 years after the war. Nevertheless, the myth caught fire and can be found in children’s books, teacher’s lesson plans, and quilter’s pattern books; it seems loath to die.
Even before 1830, abolitionists were working hard to end slavery. One way they did this was to hold grand fairs to raise both awareness and money for the abolitionist cause. Quilts were one of many craft pieces sold at these fairs. These quilts were usually fine quilts often with beautiful appliqué. Women sometimes put anti-slavery poems and sayings on the quilts they made for fairs as well as for friends and family. The goal was to show the terrible plight of the slaves.The National Gallery of Australia has a 3-by-3-metre (9.8 by 9.8 ft) quilt known as the Rajah Quilt. It was created by about 30 convict women as they were transported from Woolwich, England to Hobart, Tasmania in 1841. The quilt was rediscovered in Scotland in 1989. It is a medallion quilt with Broderie perse at its centre.

Leading up to the American Civil War, quilts were made to raise funds to support the abolitionist movement then during the war, quilts were made to raise funds for the war effort and to give warmth and comfort to soldiers. The patterns were much like those made mid-century but the purpose was different. Quilts connected to the abolitionist movement and the Civil War were made for a cause, many representing the relevant flag.
Amish quilts are appreciated for their bold graphic designs, distinctive colour combinations, and exceptional stitching. Quilting became a favoured activity of the Anabaptist sect after emigrating to the United States and Canada from Germany and Switzerland over 250 years ago. The earliest known Amish quilts, dating from 1849, are whole-cloth works in solid colours. Pattern-pieced bed coverings didn’t appear until the 1870s. Particular patterns and fabrics are identified with specific Amish communities; for example, pre-1940s quilts from Lancaster County were almost always made of wool while those sewn in Ohio during the same period were commonly made of cotton.

The Canton Historical Society in Canton, Massachusetts believes that a wholecloth quilt in their collection may be the oldest wholecloth quilt made in America. The wool wholecloth quilt was made in 1786 by Martha Crafts Howard.
The Industrial Revolution brought about the most dramatic change as textiles came to be manufactured on a broad scale. This meant women no longer had to spend time spinning and weaving to provide fabric for their family’s needs. By the 1840s the textile industry had grown to the point that commercial fabrics were affordable to almost every family. As a result, quilt making became widespread. In terms of quilts the latter years of the 19th century are best remembered for the “Crazy quilting” craze. Crazy quilts were made of abstract shapes sewn randomly together. Usually the quilt maker then used embroidery to embellish the quilt. Fancy stitches were sewn along the seams and often, embroidered motifs were added, including flowers, birds and sometimes a spider and web for good luck. Magazines encouraged making “crazies”. These simple, organic quilts were seldom used as bed-coverings, instead they were made smaller and without batting to be used as decorative throws. Quilt making was common in the late 17th century and early years of the 18th century. Colonial quilts were not made of leftover scraps or worn clothing as a humble bedcovering during this period but were decorative items that displayed the fine needlework of the maker, such as the Baltimore album quilts. Only the wealthy had the leisure time for quilt making, so such quilting was done by only a few. Commercial blankets or woven coverlets were a more economical bedcovering for most people.Another major shift was in the style of quilts made. Although a few earlier quilts were made in the block style, quilts made up of blocks were uncommon until around the 1840s. With so many fabrics being manufactured quilters could create their blocks with a delightful variety of fabrics.

Because crazy quilting was so popular at the time, they tend to eclipse the fact that many traditional quilts were also made for bedding and commemoration. Utilitarian quilts were pieced and tied or simply quilted for everyday bed coverings while beautiful pieced and/or appliquéd quilts were created for special events like a wedding or when a beloved minister was transferred to a new location. These were more often elaborately quilted.

What is the most famous quilt pattern?
The Log Cabin block is one of the most well-known and popular of all patchwork patterns. To pioneers traveling West, it symbolized home, warmth, love and security. The center square of the block was done in red to represent the hearth, the focal point of life in a cabin or home.
Whole cloth quilts, broderie perse and medallion quilts were the styles of quilts made during the early 19th century, but from 1840 onward the use of piecework and blocks, often made from printed fabric, became much more common.

This affected quilt making in two ways. First of all, women could make clothing for their family in much less time, which left more time for quilt making. Secondly, they could use their sewing machines to make all or part of their quilts. The sewing machine was usually used to piece quilts, but occasionally the quilting itself was done with the sewing machine.
“My research, substantially aided by the curatorial and library staff at the Bennington Museum, revealed some more details about Jane’s life than previously published. I was concerned about being able to find anything, as I have attempted research on other middle- and working-class quiltmakers from the mid-nineteenth century and understood how little information was available. As a team we found some important ephemera, including the household inventory of Jane’s father who died when she was 13. It documented an above average farmer and carriage builder’s home with multiple sets of linen sheets, chairs, dishes and quilts. We learnt that Jane’s education was provided for by her father, and we assume she attended one of the academies in the area.

Pam herself started making quilts as a result of the craft revival inspired by the American bicentennial in 1976. Like many of her peers, she made traditional quilts with the limited fabrics available. By the mid-1980s she was designing her own work and developed as an art quilter, heavily influenced by the work of Nancy Crow. “In 1991 I meandered down a different avenue when I took a class on reproducing the antique quilts I loved but couldn’t afford, and since then I’ve been hooked on quilt history.”

What did the quilts symbolize?
The quilts are pieces of living history, documents in fabric that chronicle the lives of the various generations and the trials, such as war and poverty, that they faced. The quilts serve as a testament to a family’s history of pride and struggle.
Her firm belief is that Jane Stickle set about making her quilt as a means of bringing some sense of order into a world that was fraught with uncertainty as the American Civil War raged. She couldn’t control what was going on in the world but she could take 5,602 fragments of fabric and piece them together to create something that was beautiful and lasting.

Speaking to Brenda, 20 years on, her sheer delight at discovering the quilt and learning so much about it is as apparent today as it was all those years ago. She has had a second career researching, teaching and travelling throughout the world and has fostered a network of followers in over 35 countries that has evolved into a global community of “Janiacs”. “I feel very blessed to have shared this extraordinary quilt and see myself as something of a messenger in a worldwide quilting bee that is all about unity, solidarity and sisterhood.”
Jane Stickle was born Jane Blakely on 8 April, 1817 in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Married to Walter Stickle sometime before 1850, they did not have a family of their own. They did, however, take responsibility for at least three other children in the area.The small size and sheer quantity of the uniquely patterned blocks in Stickle’s quilt is especially notable. The average size of a quilt block during this period was eight to 12 inches square, while the blocks in the Stickle quilt are smaller than this. Many of the blocks are intricately pieced, the individual pieces ranging in size from less than a quarter of an inch to two inches on a side and some of the blocks having as many as 35 to 40 pieces. Many of the block patterns are commonly seen in quilts from this era, however, many more are unique, drafted by a skilled needle worker with a mastery of geometry. “The listing of the linen sheets was an important find, because one of them was used by Jane to back her quilt. Tiny cross stitched initials appear on the back of the quilt—‘SB’ for Sarah Blakely, Jane’s mother. But what is it about the quilt that has piqued the interest of so many? We spoke to experts from the Bennington Museum where the quilt resides, along with Pam Weeks from the New England Quilt Museum and Brenda Papadakis, and discovered more about this quilting phenomenon. As you will learn, it is a fascinating story of a quilter who, despite the struggles of war, illness and impecunity, produced a quilt of great beauty and character, which continues to excite and unite quilters around the world.Its allure has yielded close to 140,000 sales of Brenda Papadakis’ book Dear Jane: The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt and the Dear Jane Board on Pinterest has over 25,000 followers displaying tribute quilts made in every colourway imaginable using reproduction Civil War fabrics to batiks, striking red and white combinations and even fabric lines by Kaffe Fassett and Tula Pink.

For five years Brenda travelled to Vermont studying Jane’s life and her quilt, teaching techniques for making the quilt and sharing stories of Jane and her life and times. Brenda’s book, Dear Jane: The Two Hundred and Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A Stickle Quilt was published in 1996.
The museum notes that ‘A week later, on 8 October, the Bennington Banner published a list of premiums awarded at the fair. In the “Ladies Section” it is noted that the “Best patched quilt” was awarded to “Mrs. W. P. Stickles” with a prize of $2, equivalent to about $40 in today’s money. Though modest in comparison to her remarkable accomplishment, it is nice to know that Stickle’s quilt was recognised by her contemporaries, and that it continues to inspire.’Jane Stickle’s hugely ambitious quilt is unique among mid-nineteenth-century American quilts. Sampler quilts, comprised of numerous equally sized blocks each in a different pattern, were fairly common during this period. However, each block was typically pieced by a different person, who often inscribed their contribution with their name and sometimes a date, location or short message.

“My first viewing of the quilt was like that of most people seeing it for the first time. It is literally awesome, and that first visit is a form of a pilgrimage; I strongly believe that a ‘real’ quilter’s life is not complete without seeing it in person. The quilt is a masterwork of piecing and composition and it was amazing to be invited to do deeper research, to examine every aspect of it and then to write about it.”
Pam Weeks is the Binney Family Curator of the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell Massachusetts. Her research into the Jane Stickle quilt, in conjunction with the Bennington Museum, has provided invaluable information about Jane’s personal circumstances and how the quilt came to be.“Jane Stickle’s quilt is more than geometry. It is non-traditional, creative, innovative, even avant-garde if you wish. It is new and exciting, not only in the originality of design but also in composition. From the smallest shape to the larger blocks and triangles, for me the arrangement is pure melody,” says Brenda.

“The Jane A. Stickle Quilt is probably one of the most famous quilts in America, if not the world. It captured the hearts and imaginations of quilters around the globe because of Brenda Papadakis’ book Dear Jane, with its warm and imaginative romanticising of Jane Blakely Stickle’s story and the making of this extraordinary quilt. More than 140,000 copies of the book have sold around the world, and very nearly every quilt show I’ve attended has at least one Dear Jane quilt on exhibit, if not an entire row or mini-exhibit of many reproductions of the quilt itself.
Brenda Papadakis is the author of the Dear Jane book which has sold a staggering 140,000 copies. (Dear Jane is the trademark of Brenda Papadakis and is used here with permission). Brenda has written two other historic quilt books: Dear Hannah, in the Style of Jane A Stickle and Susanna Culp 1848. When she saw Jane Stickle’s quilt in Richard Cleveland and Donna Bister’s book, Plain and Fancy, she was captivated by the geometry of Jane’s blocks. At the time, she was teaching Amish, Japanese and Baltimore styles of quilting.This centre green block is surrounded by others pieced in yellow and those in turn by alternating concentric rounds of colour including purple, pink and reddish brown calicos. Amazingly, none of the printed fabrics are used in more than one block. Each block uses a unique fabric. Jane’s access to such a wide range of textiles supports the notion that at the time it was common practice for women to trade fabrics for their sampler quilts.

Brought to the museum 60 years ago, the Jane Stickle Quilt is only shown for a short time each year due to the fragility of the fabric. We are very grateful to the Bennington Museum for kindly allowing Today’s Quilter to share the interpretation panels for the quilt from recent exhibitions.
“Curator Jamie Franklin made what is probably the most important research finds. It was an article from the Bennington Banner that reported highlights of the county agricultural fair. ‘…Mrs Stickles [sic] presented…a very extra fine bed quilt. Mrs Stickles is an invalid lady, having been for a long time confined to her bed, but her ambition to do something to kill the time induced her to piece this quilt. It contains many thousands of pieces of cloth, no two of which are exactly alike. Upon one corner is marked in plain letters, ‘made in the war of 1863.’”

“I am thrilled to have found the job of a lifetime at the end of my fifth decade of life. As the Binney Family Curator of the New England Quilt Museum, I primarily organise and implement the exhibition schedule for our t
hree main galleries. Travelling around the country to major quilt exhibits and doing online research for ideas, as well as winnowing exhibition proposals, provides me with more ideas than I have space to use! I am also responsible for our collection of nearly 500 antique and contemporary quilts and related items. We rely on our volunteers for support in all of these areas.”
In an 1860 census, Jane Stickle was listed as a 43 year-old farmer living alone. She eventually reunited with her husband, but during that time alone, she lovingly created what is now known as the Jane Stickle Quilt. As a reminder of the turbulent times the country was going through, she carefully embroidered “In War Time 1863” into one corner of the quilt (pictured below).Jane recycled a linen sheet from her mother, Sarah Blakely, for the majority of the quilt’s backing; the initials “SB,” are embroidered in tiny cross stitches on one of the scallops at the quilt’s back edge, originally intended to identify the linen’s owner. The quilt permanently resides at the Bennington Museum in Vermont. Every year it goes on display for a full month so that quilters can experience the impact of this stunning sampler up close and personal, and for 2018 it will be on display from 1 September through to 8 October. Each block in the quilt is pieced with two fabrics, a printed calico or even-weave gingham and a plain white cotton. The calicos were carefully arranged by colour in the layout of the quilt. Jane placed a green block in the centre, and chose this block carefully – the only other green blocks are in the outermost corners, along with a blue block.

With the help of Barbara Brackman’s publications on block design, she was able to establish that only 30% of the blocks were based on traditional designs, the remaining 70% were unique to Jane and her quilt. In 1992, Brenda and her grandson Ben travelled to Vermont to examine the quilt in detail. She spent three mornings tracing the blocks in the quilt and three afternoons tracing Jane’s life. In October of that year, she went back to the museum to trace the triangles and corner kites of Jane’s quilt.
Delve into the history of this legendary quilt, which has captured the hearts of quilters around the world. Jane Rae explores the phenomenon that is the Dear Jane quilt. We also unearthed some documents that explained the Stickles’ financial failure that led to them becoming wards of the town. Town documents revealed that they lived in poverty, “kept” by a David Buck, who was probably a distant relative. The history of quilting can be traced back at least to medieval times. The V&A has early examples in its collection from Europe, India and the Far East. The word ‘quilt’ – linked to the Latin word ‘culcita’, meaning a bolster or cushion – seems to have first been used in England in the 13th century.During the medieval period, quilting was also used to produce clothing that was light as well as warm. Padded wear could be put on under armour to make it more comfortable, or even as a top layer for those who couldn’t afford metal armour.Quilting is a method of stitching layers of material together. Although there are some variations, a quilt usually means a bed cover made of two layers of fabric with a layer of padding (wadding) in between, held together by lines of stitching. The stitches are usually based on a pattern or design.The earliest quilting was used to make bed covers: very fine quilts are often mentioned in medieval inventories and frequently became family heirlooms. Throughout their history, many superior examples of the technique have survived by being passed down through generations. Now in our collection, the Tristan Quilt survives from 13th-century Sicily. It depicts 14 scenes from the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde – lively depictions of battles, ships and castles – and is one of the earliest surviving examples of ‘trapunto’, or stuffed quilting, (from the Italian ‘trapuntare’, to quilt).

As a technique, quilting has been used for a diverse range of objects, from clothing to intricate objects such as pincushions. Along with patchwork, quilting is most often associated with its use for bedding. But quilts are not only practical objects. The quilts in our collection have been preserved for many different reasons, whether sentimental or commemorative, as examples of needlework skills and techniques, or even because of the specific fabrics used in their designs.
The Museum initially collected examples of patchwork because of the significance of the fragments of textiles, rather than the works as a whole. As a result, our collection charts the use of the fine silks and velvets of the 17th and 18th centuries through to the cheap cottons manufactured during the Industrial Revolution. The largest number of patchwork quilts in our collection date from the 19th century. During this period, intricate designs were used to portray a number of different motifs – from scripture and biblical scenes, as seen in Ann West’s coverlet, to scenes of world events and even playing-card designs, as seen in a bed cover dated to 1875 – 85. This kind of patchwork was so popular that several examples were displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

During the same period, patchwork was promoted by the likes of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry as a skill that should be taught to female inmates – a means of providing the prisoners both employment and allowing time for reflection. This tradition has recently been resurrected by social enterprise Fine Cell Work in a collaboration with the V&A and the inmates of the HMP Wandsworth Quilt.Because items such as bed covers typically involve large surface areas, quilt making is often associated with social occasions where many people share the sewing. Particularly in north America, where early settlers from England and Holland established quilting as a popular craft, there is a tradition of a quilt-making ‘bee’ for a girl about to get married, with the aim of stitching a whole quilt in one day. One American ‘Bride’s Quilt’ in the collection was created for the marriage of John Haldeman and Anna Reigart in 1846. It uses a pattern known as ‘sunburst’ or ‘rising sun’, popular for its symbolic associations with the dawning of a new day.

One fine example of quilted clothing in our collection is an Indian hunting coat, made in the 17th century, when the Mughal dynasty ruled South Asia. The exquisite ‘tambour’ chained stitch (worked from the top surface with a special needle called an ‘ari’, similar to a crochet hook) suggests that it was probably the work of a specialist craft workshop that would produce work for export to the West as well as for the Mughal court.Although quilting can just use basic running stitch or backstitch, each stitch has to be made individually to ensure it catches all the layers within the quilt. Where the stitching is laid down in decorative patterns, it can be extremely fine work. Popular stitching patterns have been given names such as ‘Broken Plaid’, ‘Hanging Diamond’, ‘Twisted Rope’ or ‘True Lovers’ Knot’. The quilts in the V&A’s collection span the domestic and the professionally made, reflecting different uses and associations over the centuries in which they were created and collected. Whether revealing exquisite needlework techniques or a glimpse into the lives of those who made and used them, these are objects that reward a closer look. Although closely linked to quilting, patchwork is a different needlework technique, with its own distinct history. Patchwork or ‘pierced work’ involves sewing together pieces of fabric to form a flat design. In Britain, the most enduring method is known as ‘piecing over paper’. In this method, the pattern is first drawn onto paper and then accurately cut. Small pieces of fabric are folded around each of the paper shapes and tacked into place (also known as basting, this uses long, temporary stitches that will eventually be removed). The shapes are then joined together from the back using small stitches called whipstitches.Patchwork saw a broad decline over the 20th century, but was adopted by the fashion industry in the 1960s as a ‘look’ associated with hippie culture, not just a technique. By the end of the century, both patchwork and quilting – as crafts so closely associated with women – became techniques used by artists such as Tracey Emin and Michelle Walker to explore notions of ‘women’s art’ and work. Memoriam by Michele Walker is one example in our collection. You can also watch interviews with contemporary artists and quilt makers Jo Budd and Natasha Kerr who draw on the long tradition of quilting and patchwork for their contemporary art practice.

In Britain, quilting was most popular in the 17th century, when it was used for quilted silk doublets and breeches worn by the wealthy and later for petticoats, jackets and waistcoats. Quilts were produced professionally in major towns and cities – London, Canterbury and Exeter are all linked with sumptuous examples in our collection. Quilts were also imported. Quilted Indian bed covers made from chintz fabric (Indian painted and dyed cotton) were very popular export items for both the British and Dutch markets in the late 17th and 18th centuries.Quilting also has a domestic history. Many of the English quilted items in the Museum’s collection are the work of women sewing domestically for their own use. While some were made by necessity, others were made to mark specific life occasions, such as a birth or wedding, or, like the Chapman quilt, were perhaps made for a dowry. If quilting is often associated with warmth and protection, patchwork is more closely associated with domestic economy – a way of using up scraps of fabrics or of extending the working life of clothing. Unlike quilting, patchwork remained a predominantly domestic, rather than professional, undertaking. Not all patchwork was produced for reasons of economy, however. There’s evidence that some of the patchwork quilts in our collection used significant amounts of specially bought fabrics and these quilts have been attributed to middle-class women making these objects for pleasure rather than necessity. There was also a tradition of military quilts, sewn by male soldiers while posted overseas in the second half of the 19th century. SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at [email protected]. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.Mama’s yard represents a private space free of the regrets and shortcomings that have infiltrated Mama’s life. The yard appears in the first and last sentences of the story, connecting the events and bookending the action. The yard has been meticulously prepared for Dee’s arrival. Mama is sensitive to every detail of the yard’s appearance, referring to the wavy designs she and Maggie have made in the dirt as they tidied it. Mama extols the comforts of the yard, comparing it to an extended living room. In many ways, Mama prefers the yard to the confining house, where the muggy air fails to circulate freely. The outdoors is a place of freedom, whereas the interior of the house offers restraint and discomfort. The tense discussion about who gets the quilts takes place inside, where the various objects provoke Dee’s desire to reconnect with her past. In contrast, the yard is a blissful escape, a place where Mama’s regrets can be sidestepped. For her and Maggie, the yard evokes safety, a place where they can exert what little control they have over their environment.

For the next 7 days, you’ll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!“Everyday Use” focuses on the bonds between women of different generations and their enduring legacy, as symbolized in the quilts they fashion together. This connection between generations is strong, yet Dee’s arrival and lack of understanding of her history shows that those bonds are vulnerable as well. The relationship between Aunt Dicie and Mama, the experienced seamstresses who made the quilts, is very different from the relationship between Maggie and Dee, sisters who share barely a word and have almost nothing in common. Just as Dee cannot understand the legacy of her name, passed along through four generations, she does not understand the significance of the quilts, which contain swatches of clothes once worn or owned by at least a century’s worth of ancestors.

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The quilts are pieces of living history, documents in fabric that chronicle the lives of the various generations and the trials, such as war and poverty, that they faced. The quilts serve as a testament to a family’s history of pride and struggle. With the limitations that poverty and lack of education placed on her life, Mama considers her personal history one of her few treasures. Her house contains the handicrafts of her extended family. Instead of receiving a financial inheritance from her ancestors, Mama has been given the quilts. For her, these objects have a value that Dee, despite professing her desire to care for and preserve the quilts, is unable to fathom.