Heritage and quilting

And a bit of glue for all of those of our heritage, and yes, not all have been listed here, are those pioneer women that cooked meals, made clothing and of, course, made quilts. Quilting has been a longstanding way of life for centuries.

Heritage and quilting

African American quilting is almost as old as the history of America. Black slave women were needed for spinning, weaving, sewing and quilting on plantations and in other wealthy households. African American Quilts in Early America Although the quilt fabrics and patterns used were those of upper class whites, some African American household slaves became highly skilled in creating these quilts.

Little time was left in the day for these women to Heritage and quilting their own sewing. We know some made scrap quilts or other bed coverings for their families but little has survived to be studied today.

The WPA slave narratives collected in the s included some references to quilting. One woman proudly told how her mother, "used to quilt the prettiest quilts you ever see Many lacked sufficient clothing and blankets with nothing left to make a quilt.

Life After Emancipation After the Civil War, many African American women went to work in households as domestics while others helped out on small farms. It was still a difficult life of working from dawn to dusk. Quilts were made for everyday use out of necessity.

Scraps, discarded clothing, and feed sacks, were the materials used.

Heritage and quilting

In making "string quilts," strips of various fabrics were sewn together. The result was then cut into blocks and made into a quilt. Sadly we have few examples of quilts made by African Americans during this period because of the heavy wear they received. These triangles are put in a circular pattern starting at the center giving the look of a pine cone.

Quilt Historian, Cuesta Benberry tells us, "From early to late twentieth century, the Pine Cone quilt was popular among southern African American quilters". Migration to the Cities During the s more and more African Americans began to move into the northern cities.

One contributing factor was the boll weevil infestation that destroyed many farms in the south. Also industrialization created new opportunities for employment in the north. Most women found they had little time to quilt after a long day at their factory jobs.

Every mile tells a story

Later when they retired some women re-discovered quilting. The city brought new opportunities for quilting through church and senior centers. Magazine patterns were also more available in the city. Over the years more and more African American women have had the opportunity to enjoy quilting for pleasure rather than necessity.

Possible African Roots Some intriguing theories have been proposed that link African American women's quilting to their African roots.

America's Quilting History, Quilt Styles and Quilting Myths

Strip construction, large-scale designs, strong contrasting colors and variations from symmetrical patterns all appear to reflect textile patterns found in parts of Africa.

In studying the roots of African American quilts the difficulty lies in the fact that few documented quilts exist today. Though the physical evidence of surviving quilts is gone the fact that plantation slaves made pipes with designs matching African pottery art indicates women might have used African textile designs in their quilts.

To learn more about these pipes go to the "Black History by the Shovel Full" webpage listed below.

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Story quilts, such as two examples of biblical story quilts made by Harriet Powers, lead us to wonder if many other such quilts were made by African American women. As Harriet Powers was born a slave inwe might assume this art dates back some time.

Quilt historians have found that, for the most part, black women made their quilts in the same styles that were popular with the general population during any given period. As quilters draw from a common history one cannot look at a quilt and easily identify the cultural background of the artist.

There has always been a great deal of overlapping in quilting styles among different communities and cultures. To add to the confusion, economic status usually dictated the kinds of quilts made by women regardless of their cultural heritage. Poorer women have always had to make do with scraps and discarded clothing.Feb 09,  · Helen Crocker discusses interviews three generations of quilters and discusses many pattern variations.

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