Saturday, January 30, 2010


Recently, I checked out an exhibit of Amish quilts at the de Young. The quilts on display were mostly made between 1880 and 1930 and the colors were so vibrant and intense - purple, turquoise, bright blue. Above is one of my favorites.

While I don't think I'm ready to take on quilting, I would like to try my hand at piecework since it seems like the fun part. Maybe a pillow...

Above is a scan from a book about Amish quilts. The photo shows a woman's notebook, which contains several scraps of fabric that were kept as mementos. Apparently, it was common for a bride to distribute swatches to all of the female wedding guests. Something about this practice intrigues me, using pieces of fabric to hold memories instead of photographs. And then to put all of these pieces into a quilt, so that the quilt ends up holding so many different memories. I don't think I'm able to fully articulate all of the ideas this sends swirling about my head. Heck, I can't even imagine having the patience, discipline, skill and talent to create a quilt!

This week I am in Western Tennessee visiting my folks - Quilt Country. I was hoping to see one of my Granny's quilts, but it seems that they have all been lost or destroyed over the years. Such a pity.


  1. Sorry to hear about your Granny's quilts.

    You mentioned the quilts on display were 1880-1930. Are Amish still making quilts like this today? And if so- what are the patterns like?

    Also, I can't hear "Amish" anymore and not think of those damn heaters...

    Great post, bb!

  2. From what I gather, the quilts made today are more like the traditional quilts we are accustomed to seeing. I think what made the Lancaster and Midwestern quilts created during the period of 1830-1930 particularly interesting to curators and collectors was the striking similarities to abstract art. Also, the way that the Amish sort of took this artform and put their own, unique twist on it by using darker and more vibrant color combinations. Finally, it was a way for the artist to safely express individual creativity in an environment that placed more importance over the collective rather than the individual.

    Of course, I only saw the exhibit and am not an expert, but this is what stuck with me.

  3. Love those Amish heaters "made by real Amish craftsman" China.