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One Stitch at a Time: The History of Quilting

The history of quilting and patchwork goes back several hundred years. We know of quilting that stretched across Europe as early as the 1300s and has virtually infiltrated every part of the world. In Russia, archeologists believe that they have found the oldest quilted piece, dated back to 100 BC. Now we see anything from Amish to contemporary quilts, traditional quilts, Civil War quilts, medallion quilts, whole cloth quilts, and more. Quilting has a rich history that can tie the world together. It’s quite interesting to ponder the purposes of that history and how it has evolved over time. The designs have changed and quilting is a hobby enjoyed by many today. Chances are that you have been the recipient of a family heirloom quilt passed down from previous generations, have helped make and/or received a hand-stitched or hand-sewn blanket, or have just used a warm quilt. Purposes of Quilting The purposes behind these intricate and beautifully sewn quilts vary from time period to time period. Initially, as quilts were introduced, they were not sewn to be these majestic pieces of art. Rather, they were designed for warmth. People needed warmth and electric heating was non-existent. Quilts were created out of necessity. Slowly, these quilts began telling stories. Symbolic colors or patterns were created to represent beliefs, family groups, or specific purposes. Through each period, quilts could be traded or bartered for. Certainly, quilts could be sold and used as a means for earning a living. As the textile industry took off and machines were invented, more and more elaborate designs and colors were introduced. More techniques were established and quilting was no longer done out of necessity, but for leisure. If used as a means of making a living, quilting became more lucrative, because the cost of producing a quilt in both time and materials became less expensive and the process, more efficient. Quilting Designs As we study history and observe how quilting designs changed over time, we can see that these quilts started out quite simply. When quilting was only used for keeping someone warm, the design might be as simple as tying a blanket. Then, as more fabrics became available we saw simple squares. You have to remember that before sewing machines and quilting arms, these quilts were sewn by hand. The labor of love is exquisite. It wasn’t about design, as much as it was about function. With each era, we see more colorful designs, new methods for quilting that electric sewing machines made possible. Today, people quilt beautifully detailed and embellished designs on their quilts. They are quite literally masterful pieces of artwork. Today Men and women continue to quilt today. Quilting groups, magazines, and organizations exist all over the world to collaborate, exchange ideas, engage in friendship, and promote the love of sewing. Many want to master new techniques and employ their ingenuity to create new designs and methods. Tradition is a big reason people quilt today. At Minky Mamas, we understand the impact a simple quilt can have. Maybe it is used for warmth and comfort at night. Maybe a beautiful and elaborately designed quilt adorns the walls of your home, available for every spectator to gaze that comes through your doors. Or maybe it is an expression of love and kindness towards another when presented in the form of a gift. Whatever the need, we offer some of the coziest, well-made quilts available. Check out our website for more details.


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