About Quilts   



About Quilts

Below is a mixture of Quilt Traditions and Beliefs from various sources from the Web. We Thank the sources.

     A quilt is a type of bedding— a bed covering composed of a quilt top, a layer of batting, and a layer of fabric for backing, generally combined using the technique of quilting. Another technique for securing the quilt layers is tying. Tying refers to the technique of using thread, yarn or ribbon to pass through all three layers of the quilt at regular intervals. These "ties" hold the layers together during use and especially when the quilt is washed. This method is easier and more forgiving if the quilt is made by hand. Tied quilts are called, depending on the regional area, "hap", "comfort" or "comforter", among other names. Many quilts are made with decorative designs; indeed, some quilts are not used as bed covering at all, but are rather made to be hung on a wall or otherwise displayed.

From - Wikipedia- Online Free Encyclopedia

    To build a quilt is a time consuming project and one usually involving much love and caring. This love and caring sewn into the quilt, provides the quilt with a feeling. The feeling that goes into a quilt stays with it and is usually sensed by all who see and use it.

    Using a quilt as a medium for remembrance of a loved one is not a new idea, the idea is traditional to many ethnic quilt makers.


Quilts: Reflection of a Woman's Life

      In ancient times in Europe and Asia, women created warmth and strength in bed clothing by quilting, the sewing together of two layers of cloth with a filling between. Through the centuries quilting continued as women's work, enjoyed as one of the few art forms available in the restricted world of the female. Immigrant women coming to Canada brought with them the customs of their home countries. The art of quilt making, especially patchwork quilts, took on new life with the cold climate and different lifestyle.

    Quilts often reflected the changing moods and different stages of the woman's life. Innumerable patterns were inspired by politics, religion, nature, geography and daily life, each holding intriguing imagery. The red centre of the traditional Log Cabin pattern symbolized the hearth at the centre of the family home. Diamonds represented fertility. Signature quilts commemorated events in more direct ways.

    Ruth McKendry writes 'One of the first quilts taught a young girl was the Irish Chain. Almost every girl who quilted at some time made a single, double or triple chain quilt, with the lines meeting, crossing and moving on endlessly representing the chain of life. Young girls made many quilts, but they were carefully guided and consistently taught by older women who were conscious of passing on the thread of life, as well as traditions beliefs and mores.' A young woman was expected to have ready for her marriage twelve everyday quilts which she began making when quite young. Once engaged a special one was sewn, usually appliquéd, as the wedding quilt.

    Often 'tops' were pieced during the fall and winter. In the early spring, a quilting bee would be held to quilt the lot. The quilters, often accompanied by children, began work early in the afternoon. After the chores, husbands and young men arrived for supper, followed by a social time sometimes with fiddle music and dancing. Young people enjoyed games, those involving kissing being quite popular. It was custom for the girls to throw the finished quilt over one of the young men with everyone enjoying great laughter as he extricated himself.

    Crazy quilts became an engrossing fad during the late Victorian era. Collages of irregularly shaped patches in silks, velvets and satins, they were used as parlour throws. The sewer often used as many embroidery stitches as she knew to embellish the carefully chosen colours and textures.

from http://www.dundasmuseum.ca/win-1003.shtml

Civil War Quilts

The Civil War marked a season of tremendous change in American quilting. In the early 1860s, men took quilts along to serve as bedding as they served in the military. The wartime quilt was used to communicate a soldier’s religious beliefs, to smuggle secret messages, and even to provide supplies through enemy lines. Due to wartime shortages, many quilts were made of discarded clothing. About the time of the Civil War, the patchwork or “scrap” quilt became popular. Fallen soldiers would be rolled in family quilts and buried on Civil War battlefields.

from http://www.drloriv.com/appraisals/quilt.asp

Morman Temple Quilts

Mormon folklore comprises that part of the Church's cultural heritage which Latter-day Saints pass on from person to person and from generation to generation, not through written documents or formal instruction but through the spoken word or customary example. That is, someone will listen to tales told at home or at a Church meeting about the sufferings of the Mormon pioneers and then will repeat these accounts to others; or a young girl will watch and then assist her grandmother make "temple quilts" (quilts on which the form of the Mormon temple in which a couple is married is stitched) for the marriages of each grandchild, and in the process will eventually learn to make her own quilts; or each evening children will be gathered by their parents into family prayer and then one day will continue the practice in their own families.

from http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/art/folklore_eom.htm


by: Wambdi Wicasa

     The mythology as well as the traditions of our North American Indian tribes shows a religious observance of the stars and a reverence for all the heavenly bodies. The Milky Way is called the "Pathway of Departed Souls." After death it is believed, by many Indian Americans, that the spirit of the deceased passes on this pathway to the Southern Star, the abiding place of the dead.

     It is thought that to the Stars, the Great Spirit gave the power to watch over mortals on earth and impart to them spiritual blessings. The Star Quilt is given today as a token of this belief. Southwest Peoples call this "God's Eye".

    It is customary at the death of a relative to enhance their glory and memorialize their name. The stricken family of the Siouxan, Gros Ventre and numerous other tribes had little pride in ownership of goods, but much pride in "honorship" -- by giving of materials to relatives and very close friends who come to help them bury their loved ones! Things are less important than people -- property always flows back to those who let it flow freely forth and the grateful recipients praise the donor's name before other people as having done well! Such are the inherited beliefs of many Indian Americans.

    This explains the traditional memorial services held on the first anniversary of the death of a loved one in the family and their presentation of quilts to those who have been especially kind to the deceased.

from Star Quilts.org

Star Quilt as a Sacred Object

The Star quilt is that kind of sacramental. Years ago, the bison ‘Tatanka’ was the great source of life and energy. There is a story about Tatanka and his relationship with his brothers, the humans. It was said: One day man was weak. He had eaten his fill of roots and herbs and berries, but he was weak, and though he wrapped himself in grasses, he was cold. In the end he was desperate, both for himself and for his wife and children, for the winter was coming.

In his misery he fell face down onto Mother Earth, and he prayed. He opened his heart to his Mother, and he was heard. Out of the mist his brother, Tatanka, came toward him. Tatanka said nothing at first; he only looked, but then he had pity. ‘My brother,’ said Tatanka, ‘Listen to me. We are all children of one Father; we share with each other. I see you are weak and I am strong. You are cold and I am warm. Your whole body is pitiful; your fingers cannot help you to dig for food.

‘Listen, my brother, I will make you a sacred promise. I will take care of you. I will do what our Father expects from us who are related. Listen to me carefully, and from now on do as I tell you.

‘For your food I will give you my flesh. Take it. For your clothing and covering I will give you my skin. Take it. For tools I will give you my bones. Take them. Only remember that our Father, the Maker of us all, is watching that you use all things right and with a blessing.

‘When you need me, stand on a high hill and call, I will come. When you have taken what you need from me and from my other brothers, stand on the same high hill and give thanks. Do not give thanks to me or to us, because we do what is required. Give thanks to the Father who makes all of us healthy and gives all of us a promise of happiness. Leave a mark there on the hill to show that you have given thanks, and everyone will know that you and your family are worthy people.’

And so it was. Before the hunt the camp leader stood on a hill and called to Tatanka. ‘Listen brother, We are here and we need what you have to share with us. Come! Let us take your strength into us.’ And Tatanka came. When the hunt was finished the first flesh was lifted up in a ceremony of public thanks. The hide was tanned and made into a covering. The covering was given at the important times of life, at birth, at puberty, at marriage and death. It was painted with the earth’s color into a bright star, God’s Eye. When the creator is with you, covering you, watching you, you are forever safe.

Today, Tatanka is gone. Women now have only cloth with which to make God’s Eye. But they have not forgotten their power to make a blessing nor to bring God onto their children and their family.

The pride of every Dakota home is God’s Eye- the morning star quilt. It lies folded to wait as a gift. It covers the bed, and it wraps the dead. It makes sacred whatever it covers. It is a sacramental. It is a visible image that holds an invisible reality. ‘It will not leave you orphans.’”

from http://www.bluecloud.org/morningstar.html




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