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Quilts

For us Europeans no craftsmanship is as American as the quilting. Actually it is an old idea to sew an isolating layer between to other layers of fabric, but nobody perfected the quilting like the Americans. Even today whole generations of Americans sleep under a quilt, designed and sewed by their moterhs or grandmothers. Therfore a quilt is more than just a warm blanket, it stands for comfort and security and for a „golden America“ where the communities were small, the values irevocable and God and the home country stood above all.

The art of quilting was brought to America by European immigrants. The oldest existing quilt was sewed in Italy and shows scenes of the Tristan legend. During the 17th and 18th century, quilting was very popular in Great Britain as well.

A Quilt is always made up of three layers, the backing, an isolating padding and an ornamental top, that are sewed together with artful quilting patterns which grace the top additionally.


Over the time, several different quilting styles emerged from the original quilting. The American type of quilting was the patchwork quilting. The art of putting together different pieces of fabric was developed due to the fact that the first settlers had little access to the large pieces of fabric needed for the british quilting style – the wholecloth quilting. The development of block patchwork was a way of assembling enough pieces to eventually make an entire quilt, and it allowed the maker to use scraps as they became available from other sewing projects.

Over the years some patterns like the „Log cabin“-Pattern or the „Star of Bethlehem“ became very popular and were passed on from generation to generation. A different style of quilting was the appliqué style, which used little pieces of fabric to form images or patterns on a background made of different fabric. This style provided the artistic freedom for very fanciful and expressive quilts, that were sewed as keepsakes for important event and not used as every-day blanket but cherished.

The American quilting reached its peak during the 19th century, when the days full of deprivation were over, fabrics were affordable and the industrial revolution had not yet replaced arts and crafts. During this time, hundreds of thousands of quilts have been sewed which reflect in their patterns and designs the life of American women in the 19th century.

Since the middle of the 19th century the block quilting which assembled no longer little geometric pieces, but equally big squares gained more and more acceptance. This technique was wery time-saving for the sewer and is seen along with the patchwork quilting as the most important American contribution to the art of quilting.