The Amish Quilt
Welcome to our Amish Quilt website.
Here you will find informational articles about the Amish and their quilts.
All Articles:

Christmas in the Amish Home (part 1)

Christmas in the Amish Home (part 2)

History of the Amish Quilt (part 1)

History of the Amish Quilt (part 2)

The Development of American Folk and Amish Quilts (part 1)

The Development of American Folk and Amish Quilts (part 2)

Preparing an Amish Wedding (part 1)

Preparing an Amish Wedding (part 2)

How Do Amish Women Make Money (part 1)

How Do Amish Women Make Money (part 2)

The Development of American Folk and Amish Quilts (part 1)


Making quilts has been a practice of American women since the late 1700s as a practical means of providing warmth for the cold winters.  While many people believe that women have been quilting for art and pastime since colonial days, this is actually not the case.  Women in those early days of America were expected to do the spinning and sewing of clothing and bedding, but it was rarely done so in a decorative fashion or thought of as a hobby.  It wasn’t until the mid to late 1700s that women were experiencing better living conditions and had a few moments of spare time in order to quilt for pastime or personal expression.  Many of these early quilts would look nothing like the quilts of today because they were usually done using the quilting methods of their home countries or created using their own individual methods.


The earliest quilts were usually whole-cloth quilts which used a solid piece of fabric for the top, filling, and backing.  Intricate designs were then stitched into the solid pieces of fabric making the whole quilt look as if it were decorated through texture, design, and shadow.  These quilts used single colors since they required one piece of fabric for the entire quilt, however, they often used bold, rich colors.  Intricate patterns were used on these whole-cloth quilts which required skill and patience in order to create large, equal patterns throughout the entire quilt.  Popular designs of the time included geometric shapes, flowers, feathers, animals, and people.


Another popular quilting method of the time was called "broderie perse," which was an appliqué technique using printed chintz flowers and designs.  Imported printed fabrics were in short supply in those early days of quilting, so rather than using only solid whole-cloth quilts, women began cutting out small pieces of the printed fabrics they managed to get a hold of and would make designs out of them.  The quilters would cut out flowers or shapes from the printed fabrics and then stitch them to the top of the solid fabrics to make them more intricate and colorful looking.


It wasn’t until the mid 1800s that the method of block quilting was developed.  Until this time, colored or patterned fabrics were not readily available to most American women.  However, once textile manufacturers became automated and textile factories began producing large amounts and different varieties of fabrics, the style of block quilting that we are familiar with today started popping up all over the country.  Early American quilters began creating more intricate patterns or designs and began expressing themselves more creatively through the art of quilting.  Quilts began moving from mere necessity for warmth to more artistic uses for decoration


It was at this time that many Mennonite groups began embellishing their quilts using geometric shapes and more colorful designs.  It wasn’t until the late 1800s, after the newness of quilting began to fade, that the Amish took to quilting.  Many Amish groups rejected the idea of quilting for décor initially because it was thought to be a useless task.  Quilts were to be used for warmth alone, not for art, so embellishing or decorating them was considered an impractical use of their time.  This is just one of the fundamental differences that divide the Mennonites from the Amish.  Mennonites are considered less strict than the Amish when it comes to interpreting scripture and intermingling with the world around them, so quilting for art was looked down upon by the Amish in the earliest years of block quilting.

The Development of American Folk and Amish Quilts (part 2)

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