Every quilt tells a story:

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Crazy quilt:

The crazy quilt is made with random and irregular shaped pieces of fabric, often pieces of silk, wool, velvet and other lavish fabrics or in some cases bits of fabric from departed ones’ clothing items and bits of lace. The raw edges are embroidery with wool or embroidery floss with a variety of embroidery stitches. Some collected souvenir ribbons of college teams, sporting events, fairs and even silk cigar wrappers that were included in these quilts. They were usually made into blocks and then sewn together to create the desired size or until there was no more fabric. 

These quilts were most often tied with yarn or floss. It was during the Victorian era that they became popular as the industrial revolution evolved and the gentlewomen had more time and opportunity to be creative and original. Also it was desirable to decorate the home with colour. These crazy quilts became very popular during the late 1880s and continued until the 1920s. They often had a year embroidered on the quilt or a person’s name as it is with the quilt in the photo. This crazy quilt was made by my great grandmother and my great aunt when my mother was four years old as indicated by the date 1914 and the initial “M.” Take a look in your attic or old trunk and maybe you will find a family treasure.

Patchwork quilts:

The patchwork quilt is very unique as it is made up of geometric shapes which are the essential elements in patchwork blocks. They include squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons, octagons, trapezoids, diamonds and circles. The top layer of the quilt consists of pieces of fabric cut into these shapes and sewn together to form a design, commonly known as ‘a block’, and these blocks are then sewn together to make a larger piece to form the top of the quilt.

There are hundreds of patterns, and numerous versions of many of them to select from, and some of these blocks are meant to tell a story. For example, quilts were used by some homeowners in the underground railroad to convey special messages to the traveller. Originally, blocks were made using scraps of fabric but most quilters today buy fabrics that are colour co-ordinated to make their desired block. Quilts are a representation of protection, warmth, creativity, community, healing and rejuvenation.

Colour, designs, patterns and fabric have varied over the centuries but the pleasure and skill that a quilter puts into making a quilt as a gift for a newborn baby, wedding, anniversary, or graduation has remained the same throughout the centuries. The metaphor of a patchwork quilt speaks to how life is made up of so many different elements and how each part fits together to make it whole and tell someone’s story.


Have a quilt to be documented? Ideally, the quilt will be 25 years old or more. Quilts will be documented on May 2 and 3 in North Grenville. Email to book an appointment to have your quilt photographed and documented: documentation.ngquilts@gmail.com.

 

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