Sunday, October 12, 2014

Patchwork Revival

By Jeff Burns

My wife Veronica’s hobby is sewing, specifically quilting.  She’s looking forward to her fast approaching retirement from teaching, so she can spend her days quilting.  She loves the creativity and the process, but she’s equally passionate about the history behind it. 

Chances are, if you are reading this, you have great quilted memories.  Maybe your mother or grandmother, or even beyond that, quilted.  It seems that almost everyone has a story that begins, “When my grandmother died, we found unfinished quilt tops or squares, and we had them finished ,” or “We divided them up,” or “My most precious possession is a quilt my grandmother made.”  Quilting has been a part of civilization for millennia, with the earliest examples traced back to Ancient Egypt.  Before metal armor, warriors were protected by quilted accessories.  From the founding of the American colonies, the practice of quilting not only provided warm and functional bedding passed down from generation to generation; it provided a form of artistic expression that women may not have had otherwise.  Quilting bees, social gatherings where neighbors worked on projects together, were powerful forums of discussion and community bonding.

Many quilters, like Veronica, are very conscious of the history and heritage of quilting.  Veronica’s passion is finding unfinished quilt – tops and “orphan “ (unused ) squares and re-purposing them to make table accessories like runners, pads, and toppers, as well as pillows, bags, stuffed animals, along with traditional quilts.  She’s actively engaged in “patchwork revival,” recycling and repurposing old fabrics and quilts for new uses and new generations to enjoy.  Many fabric stores produce reproduction patterns from past times that are fun to use in projects, but we also find original fabric, sometimes going back to the 1920s and 1930s, in thrift stores, estate sales, and on Ebay. 
Are you interested in finding out more about quilting?  Maybe you’d like to find someone to make a quilt or finish a quilt for you?  No problem.  Many communities have a quilting or hobby store that can provide all the materials and info you need, including classes for the beginner and the experienced.  You can also find quilting clubs or guilds in many communities.  They often hold shows open to the public and their members are young and old, male and female.  Ask around at your work or at church or in your neighborhood.  Chances are, somebody knows a quilter.  The internet is full of helpful sites, and you can learn almost any technique through Youtube videos.  PBS has a couple of shows devoted to sewing and quilting, and there are numerous magazines.

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