Quilts and quilting, once seemingly on the way to oblivion, are today enjoying a virtual renaissance. Quilts have become not just quaint folk art, but art objects, found in major collections. It has been estimated that one in four American families has a quilter, and it is a multi-billion dollar business world-wide.
In doing the research for this article, I was continually amazed at how far back quilting goes, and in how many forms it has been used. I quickly realized that I could not hope to write a comprehensive history of the topic (even if I were an expert), as it includes so much material from so many times and places. (Or should that be sew much material...? Sorry!)
I also learned that no two fiber historians agree completely, if at all (much like historians in every specialty). Therefore, after sifting through reams of material, I have selected what seems to me to be the most accurate and logical information, then compared the sources with one another and with other historic sources.
I have also incorporated material that I learned from my own studies of history. The sources alone would be a volume, so I have listed just a handful of the most interesting, informative, and authoritative works and links.
This will be no more than a survey of the topic, covering some of the high points. I leave the deeper history to the real experts. I hasten to add that I am hardly an expert myself - I am not even a quilter or fiber historian. However, my background and interests include history, so I do know something about how to research.
I also have some small knowledge of fabrics and periods due to my research in history, especially Celtic Studies, including Celtic dress at various periods. I must admit I found this project more interesting
than I had anticipated. Although I like quilts, and admire their craft and art, I am not as deeply involved with them as Lisa and her friends and clients. Still, I found the history and research process
very informative. I encourage readers with an historic interest, knowledge, or artifacts to write with corrections or suggestions.
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