A Quilter Speaks

A while back we spent some time with an Amish lady who owns a quilt shop and has done a lot of quilting. Here are a few of her observations on how she got started, and the "meaning" of quilts to the Amish themselves…


Dahlia Log Cabin

I started quilting because I loved to sew. When I was a kid with Mom, she’d sit at the quilt frame beside me and show me how to do it. Actually, I started by sewing on the treadle sewing machine first, on my own, making doll dresses and so forth. Mom made quilts for the family, for the boys and the girls when they got married. There were eleven of us. I think maybe the boys got one quilt and the girls got two. Mom’s sister pieced the tops together, and then she had a quilting bee with her sisters or aunts or cousins to finish the quilt. At a quilting bee you can almost do a quilt in a day, rather than the three to four weeks working alone.

Most people have no idea how much time it takes to make a quilt, to do each stitch by hand. More people are trying to make their own quilts now, and they’re finding it harder than they thought it was. You have to enjoy quilting while you’re doing it or you won’t be successful.

The Amish nowadays use the traditional colors less, and use prints more. But I want to make sure that my boys get a "Sunshine and Shadow" quilt. I don’t want to lose that. For the boys, I also like the "Log Cabin" and the "Irish Chain" patterns. I hope to make three quilts for my daughter and two for each of my three boys when they get married. Grandmother has also been giving quilts to her grandchildren when they turn 15 or 16.

I remember one year there was a man who seemed to have gone to every house buying quilts. So, although a quilt had sentimental value, some people parted with them for the money. My grandmother parted with her quilts, and she was sorry she did. Now, we can make quilts to sell. I’ll always hang onto my mother’s "Sunshine and Shadow" quilt. My aunt pieced that one together, and she’s not here anymore. It’s got sentimental value to me and I’ll keep it.

 

Amish Country News Feature Article (Spring 2001)

 

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