Quilting has different meanings for different people, but all quilts have a unique appearance and tradition. “What makes art is its life – pulsing and shining with the energy and intentions of its creator. The art of quilting glows with a respect for all generations that have come before – putting thread, needle, and cloth together with vision and love” (Wilson 7). Starting out in antiquity as a necessity and a work of art, quilting has changed over time, but it is still practiced in a myriad of cultures around the world.
Although there are many types of quilting, there are three common types identified as whole cloth, piecing, and appliqué. The whole cloth technique uses only one ...view middle of the document...
However, it was not until A.D. 1095 that Europeans gained undeviating access to the technologies of Asia and Africa, and the process of quilting became standard in Western Europe. Through their attack on Palestine, knights from England, France, and Italy were introduced to the Palestinians’ light armor made of tough quilted jackets covered with chain mail, flexible armor made of metal links (Wilson 16-17).
Quilting was introduced to America when the first settlers came in the Fifteenth Century. The first records of quilts in what would become the United States come from wills and estate papers of the 1600’s. The oldest surviving American quilt is probably the Saltonstall quilt, made around 1704 (Breneman and Laurette).
Many cultures have come together in the United States to include, for example, such world-noted quilt styles as Mexican-American, African-American, and Amish. It is not known exactly when the first pioneer woman introduced her quilting to the Spanish-American settlers, but star quilt patterns became an element of Spanish-American women’s weaving quite early. Fabric became more available in the 1800’s when the railroad arrived. Women found that they could make warm bed coverings much faster than weaving by sewing together scraps of fabric with an old blanket, with wool or cotton as filling. Blankets were greatly needed as many of the Mexican-American people lived in the high northern part of New Mexico. What has become clear, is the Anglo/Eastern U.S. tradition dictated rules that are absent in the quilts made by Hispanic people whose quilts appear more experimental and practical. However, with time these distinctions have begun to fade over the years; yet, the brightly colored quilts that are seen today might in some way be influenced by the early Mexicans’ love of color (Breneman, Mexican-American).
The African-American influence on quilting dates back to around 1754 to the oldest African made quilt. Although many aspects of African culture went “underground” when they were brought as slaves to America, the Africans devised ingenious ways of keeping memories of their homeland and their self-respect alive. Although most captive Africans were not allowed to bring any of their belongings to America, their memories, traditions, and talents came with them, “etched in their spirits” (Wilson 34).
The Amish came late to quilting in the eighteenth century. Although they stressed the simple life and used solid colors and conservative styles, their quilts were held together with intricate and decorative design. Amish quilt designs are a result of the belief that art is not a separate thing but that beauty is a part of function, a concept that can be an inspiration to all quilters (Breneman, Amish).
The methods, customs, and techniques of many different cultures from Mexican-American to Amish came together to create a new American quilting tradition. This change can be seen in an early nineteenth century quilt from...