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Quilt Making in the 1800s

Quilt Making in the 1800s

Old 10-24-2018, 01:59 PM
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Default Quilt Making in the 1800s

I am fascinated by the wonderful quilts from the 1800s- the red & green quilts, Civil War era quilts, etc. Does anyone know of any books that explain how the quilts were made back then? (Such as how women would create applique patterns, how they would "turn" the applique fabric, where they would obtain fabric, etc.)

There are lots of books with pictures of antique quilts and some even have information on the life of the quilt maker, but I cannot find any books that describe the process these formidable women used to create such beautiful quilts in such adverse (compared to today) conditions.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 10-24-2018, 02:15 PM
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reviews on this book are all positive:

Google has more:

here are more links for construction and history of quilts in the 1800s

Last edited by mindless; 10-24-2018 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 10-24-2018, 02:37 PM
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This is interesting- a news article about quilt making as an event:
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:28 PM
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the International Quilt Study Center, at the Univ. of Nebraska (Lincoln) probably can direct you to this info--we did a road trip as a guild up there and they were extremely helpful and would probably respond via email. the also have a gift shop with numerous books in it.
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:40 PM
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wonderful museum located in historic Williamsburg VA. Contains history of textiles. They restore quilts and historic textiles. Worth a visit.
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Old 10-25-2018, 03:00 AM
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Maryanne Fons must have a collection of those types of books. Many times I've seen her recreate a modern quilt after studying a photo of an antique quilt. She admits those antique quilts fascinate her and she breaks down the process into easy to understand methods of block making.
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Old 10-25-2018, 03:05 AM
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Are you familiar with Barbara Brackman and her Civil War quilts blog? I signed up to read it regularly and have also done some of her blocks of the month. See www.civilwarquilts.blogspot.com and you'll also find links to Brackman's other historical quilt blogs.
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Old 10-25-2018, 03:15 AM
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First thing I thought of when I saw the word "Deseret" was that my Moms family came to Utah in the early 1800s.
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Old 10-25-2018, 07:26 AM
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For me the history of quilting, especially as primarily a female expression of art is very important to me even though I do not come from a family tradition of quilting. When I started quilting back in the 70s before the rotary revolution and the modern age of quilting basically all I had were black and white history books or collections of blocks with no setting directions much less cutting or other instructions. As I sit with all my modern tools and the internet and detailed instructions, I marvel at the creativity that people/women were able to do with simply a folded piece of paper, a straight edge, and maybe a piece of string or outlining a plate or whatever. Plus the sharing and generosity of their friends, family and neighbors.

When I was in college and could choose the topics for my papers they were typically about quilting or at at least cotton and textiles. There is a lot of support for the idea that cotton was the cause/birth of the industrial revolution. The train systems were to get the fibers to/from the mills. The first inklings of computer code came from the weaving loom instructions. The production of cotton was responsible all sorts of technology improvements, and the history of dyes (like why red and green...) is interesting as well. The search for comfortable as well as affordable fabric for the masses came down to cotton and there is a lot of economic history, colonization, wars and other stuff too. I think it is important to understand that as soon as there were sewing machines, people figured out ways to quilt with them, I don't think we can fully understand in our modern age the liberation the sewing machine (itself a technological marvel) meant to everything being hand stitched. I find it all fascinating!

For another link/aspect, check out the Ladies Art Company which started in the late 1800s.

A bit later came Ruby McKim (my first quilt book was her 101 blocks) and the Kansas City Star patterns.

Last edited by Iceblossom; 10-25-2018 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 10-25-2018, 07:58 AM
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I am in the process of restoring a quilt that belonged to my husband's grandmother, his mother will be 91 next month. I am amazed at the precise piecing of the blocks, of course the fabrics were cotton from the children's clothing which were make from flour sacks. The batting is cotton but not much processing to it and is very lumpy. The fabric is so old it actually tears when not picked up as a whole quilt. I remember as a young child playing under the quilting frame in my grandmothers house, it was hung from the ceiling and the ladies of the community would come and quilt. They took turns at each other's house to get each one a quilt . The hostess house prepared the meal for them.
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