earlier times, simpler times
The QUILTING BEE by Kathleen Fry “Bees” whether it was a work bee or a barn raising bee were an important means of socializing and popular community events where neighbours would gather together to help one another. On occasion, the women of a community gathered at someone's home to participate in a quilting bee. In the parlor a quilt would be found in a frame around which the women gathered to work. During the preceding winter months women would have pieced their quilt tops, ready to be stitched at the bee. Very often, plates, thimbles and tea cups were used to mark the quilting patterns. Deft fingers directed the needles and active tongues repeated the gossip that had been stored away during the winter for this occasion, when for the first time since Christmas, friends were together. An entire day was made of the affair and when all work was completed for the day, the rest of the time was spent visiting before everyone set out for home. After dinner, there was very often a square
dance or country dance with fiddles accompanying the dancers. The quilting bee was an important part of the social life of these early settlers, surpassed only by religious gatherings. Some misconceptions exist around the history of quilting #1 Piecing and quilting by hand has always been prized over using a sewing machine. When the sewing machine became available the possession of one was quite a status symbol. Piecing was often done by machine and a few women even machine stitched their quilting or appliqué. These visible stitches advertised that the quilter was a proud owner of a sewing machine. Sewing the binding by machine was another way to show off machine stitching. #2 Quilting was a common task in a woman's life in early North America. While quilting was done by those who could afford to buy imported fabric, ordinary women in early North America spent their days spinning, weaving and sewing just to keep their families in clothing. It wasn't until production of affordable textiles c. the
1840’s that more women found time to quilt. #3 Quilting originated in early North America and is purely a North American craft. Quilting has a long history back to the time of ancient Egypt and earlier. Quilted clothing has been worn for centuries; Medieval & Renaissance quilting was highly skilled. Decorative quilted petticoats were worn during the 17th century in Europe, Great Britain, America and beyond. Even today quilting is popular in countries all over the world. #4 Specially designed quilts were used as signals by the Underground Railroad. Although the idea of quilts being used as secret guides to help slaves escape from the south has great romantic appeal, Underground Railroad research has found no evidence that such a practice actually occurred. On the other hand, many quilts have been made commemorating the Underground Railroad. There is much more to African American quilting history than the idea that quilts might have been used in the UGRR. #5 In the old days women did all their quilting at gatherings called quilting bees. Such quilting parties did occur but were less common then we would be led to believe. In truth many women
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quilted alone at home. Women also quilted with family members or as a part of a church or other organized group. #6 Women in the past used scraps for quilting as a frugal measure to save money on new fabric. Although some quilters used scraps from outgrown clothing in their quilts others bought fabric specifically for the quilts they made. Other times quilts were made with a combination of both, "Although some claim that patchwork quilts themselves are made with worn-out cloth it was typically the good pieces (not the worn) that were cut and stitched into patchwork. It would be counter-productive to spend time sewing fabric that was already worn out." (Fawn Valentine, from West Virginia Quilts and Quiltmakers) The frugality theory also implies that quilt making was a necessary drudgery. Instead we find that most women enjoyed the creativity involved in making a quilt whether with new fabric or scraps. Although quick and simple quilts were made for everyday use, many quilts were far too intricate in the piecing and quilting to have been made just for necessity. The King Township Historical Society is proud to present quilter and artist Angela
Krotowski on Sunday September 18, at 2:00 PM at the Schomberg Agricultural Building, Main St. in Town during the "Fall in love with Schomberg" weekend Sept. 17th and 18th. In her talk “Patches Over Time" Angela will describe with examples how quilts have gone from a time when they were necessary to keep the pioneers warm in winter to the art form of wall hangings today. Angela Krotowski is a well-known quilter who loves to make all types of quilts in historical, family and political themes and who will inspire you to take up a needle and work on a patch! There will be a display of quilts that will demonstrate the art form of quilting. Angela is also an expert in fabric identification and can tell what era the fabric is from and how it was manufactured. You are welcome to bring in your quilt that day for her to comment on. The King City branch of the KT Public Library has a regular quilting group that Angela leads.
Published on Aug 29, 2011