American Patchwork and Quilting

“Sew Together”

So, when did American patchwork and quilting really start?

Take a ride with us as we travel in time.  We’ll go over the evolution of this style here today.

The Beginning

Well, the earliest quilts that were found in America were those that were made in colonial times. To learn more about colonial quilts click on the link.

Real patchwork quilts that had true designs for Americans started in the early 19th century.  This is when fabric became more affordable to common households.

Lower income families still recycled their clothing as more clothes.  Until the scraps were made into pieces for new quilting projects, but during this period they became more of a consistent design.  Rather than just whatever fit goes there, crazy quilts style.

Higher class women still created quilts as their favorite hobby.  You can tell these ones apart by how intact and colorful they are today compared to ones of the same time period.

Some of the most famous quilts that originated from this era were made by slaves.  They would dye their own unrefined cloth to quilt in a style that reminded them of their roots and traditions.  It was a way of preserving their culture for future generations.

The Middle

Once we reach the middle of the 19th century we find the beginning of the quilting bees.

When most of us think about quilting history the quilting bee is what comes to our mind.  A bunch of women gathered around a common project that they would complete together.

This activity was a chance to socialize for many women.  It was also a way of making larger quilts in a faster fashion.  This was very important due to the fact that there were no sewing machines yet.

Quilting bees stayed popular well thru the beginning of the 20th century.

Easier Than Before

The sewing machine was introduced in the early 20th century.  This saved millions of women’s hands by automating the process for sewing projects.  They could now make and mend the family clothes using this device.

This also meant that quilting was faster and easier than ever before.

Quilting bees were no longer a necessity for big quilts and busy homemakers could now produce larger projects on their own.  The quilting bee started to fade, except for those who used it as an excuse to keep social. 

Still to this day, hand quilting is cherished for the hard physical labor it represents. 

Machine quilting just allows you to finish more works of art in less time.

Both methods look beautiful and are well respected.

Wrap Up

American patchwork and quilting has a long and remembered history.  Try checking out some museums that display some of this heritage.  It tends to give you a warm and fuzzy feeling with the knowledge that you are keeping this tradition alive.

Until next time.

Happy quilting,


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› American Patchwork and Quilting

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