This story is being told by someone who knows nothing about quilting. So you'll forgive when my terminology goes haywire. You will forgive! I will be talking about my experiences with the Amish and their quilts and hopefully I will capture the detail and breadth of their art. I have never seen anything more beautiful and awe inspiring than an Amish quilt. It's simply impossible to look enough to fill your eyes up. They keep seeking more and more and more of those mesmerizing lines of stitches. In other words, I'll try to include a little information, but this will be largely a photo diary.
The Amish Came Late to Quilting
Long after their neighbors were piecing quilts the Amish still used the old German featherbeds and coverlets. There was a good reason for this. Amish communities were formed so that the members could remain apart from the temptations of the modern world. But what is considered 'modern' changes over the years.
The Amish gradually made changes as well, but often a few decades later. Amish quilt making is a good example of this. Very few quilts are known to have been made by the Amish before the 1870s. Then over 15 years quilting became quite common.
Amish Quilting Evolves, But Always Behind Current Quilt Styles
As we follow the evolution of their quilt making we find that the Amish always used conservative styles compared to what was popular in quilting at any given time. The first Amish quilts were made in one solid color, of brown, blue, rust or black. Often worsted wools were used, and though the fabric was plain, the quilting done to hold the layers together was intricate and decorative. Swirling feathers, curves and grids were typical quilting patterns.
Gradually some basic piecing and additional colors were added. For example a quilt may have had a large diamond in the middle of a dark fabric with only wide border around it. Fabric colors evolved to include pumpkin, olive green and an occasional dark red. These new colors were still deep and solid.
As the general population moved on to elaborate crazy quilts the Amish adopted some of the more basic of the block patterns. Nine patch, Around the World, and Sunshine and Shadow were popular. Only solid colored fabric was used but with more varied colors. Amish quilts were made of wool or cotton, as popular silks were considered too worldly.
In the early twentieth century new brighter colors became available and women began to adapt traditional patterns to create more complex designs. During the World War II natural fiber was hard to come by and even the Amish had to turn to the synthetics available at the that time. As most of the nation turned away from quilting, considering it old-fashioned and a waste of time, the Amish continued the tradition.
I'm going to start with what I consider completely mind boggling designs. Three of them:
Not being a quilter, I simply can't imagine piecing these all together. And yet, when I am in the presence of these quilts, it is not the colors and design that mesmerize me, it is the quilting. It is unimaginable how many stitches there are and how they whorl and flow and meld into a series of incredibly complex patterns.
It is, perhaps easier to see in the plain quilts:
But, alas, that really doesn't show the complexity and beauty of the stitching. It's the best I can do. The following are traditional designs to be seen all over Pennsylvania Dutch country:
More modern designs are very striking:
I found one quilt of particular interest:
The white spaces include embroidered messages requested by the buyer. Remind anyone of SaraR and Winglion?
This one's mine, a gift from this wonderful community. The rest are just because.
Thank you, everyone for taking a look at my VERY humble offering. And, because I'm simply too excited to keep quiet about it, I landed a job on Thursday!!! I'll be psychologizin' again! Really just hated wasting those 9 years of college. Have a lovely evening all!
After doing quite well with scheduling for awhile, there are now lots of open dates. Would you like to write a future DK Quilt Guild diary? Please join in! Please volunteer within the comments. Thanks
5/26 -- leu2500
6/02 -- OPEN
6/09 -- OPEN
6/16 -- madmommy
6/23 -- OPEN