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Patchwork Magic O'er The Years
by Mary Emma Allen
There's a magic in patchwork which has fascinated people for years. There's something about pieced and patchwork quilts, tablecloths, pillows, placemats, and potholders which brighten up a room and add a colorful touch.

The early settlers to the New World took their scraps of worn-out clothing to patch their worn-out coverlets. Before long they were making quilts entirely of patches. Thus the first patchwork quilts were created in this country.

Gradually the women worked out designs for their patched quilts, some intricate, some simple, with fascinating names. Also, one will find that the same design may be called by different names in various parts of the country.

Family History in Quilts
The quilts often told a family history. Here were Mother's wedding dress, Grandmother's apron, Grandpa's necktie, Father's shirt, Sister's school dress, Baby's christening gown, and perhaps a tablecloth or curtain scrap.

In later years, these quilts provided memory material for recalling significant events in a family's life.

Working With Grandmother
I still have a quilt I made with my grandmother when I was eight years old. We sat beside the kitchen stove in her farmhouse on winter evenings, cutting squares and sewing them together. Grandmother made quilts for each of her four grandchildren. Mine is worn and faded, but it's something I treasure. It's full of memories of those days when I first learned quiltmaking. For as I sat beside Grandmother and sewed, my aunt was busy around the kitchen, stirring up some of her delicious meals and homemade bread. We laughed and talked and enjoyed the companionship of three generations being together.

Quilting Bee
Later, on another visit to Grandmother's, the quilts were spread on the dining table. The filling and backing had been added, and we were ready for a "quilting bee."

Actually it was a "tying bee," for the quilts were tied with pieces of yarn. Susie, a neighbor lady, came in to help. How pleased I was to be allowed to participate.

Various Patterns
Star patterns were among the favorites over the years. Some of these, like the Lone Star, were very complicated designs. It's amazing, when one realizes how much work the colonial homemakers had to do, how they had time to make quilts with such intricate designs. Other star designs were Texas Star, Missouri Star, Odd Star, Ozark Star, Persia Star, Rolling Star, Prairie Star, Slashed Star, Twinkling Stars, Double Star, Flying Star, and Blazing Star, to name a few.

Names From Various Sources
Names for quilts were drawn from nature, religion, politics, communities, flowers, trades and occupations, and historic events. There were nine-patch, shoo-fly, windmill, Thelma's choice, postage stamp, wagon tracks, Dutchman's puzzle, duck's foot-in-the-mud, and double hearts to name a few.

Rose designs were another favorite and had numerous versions. There were Rose of Sharon, rosebud, rose dream, rose cross, rose tree, tea rose.

A number of names had "sun" as part of their titles - setting sun, rising sun, sunshine and shadow, sunbeam, sundial, sunflower, and sunburst. The list goes on and on with fascinating and descriptive quilt patterns you can make on a winter evening.

copyright Mary Emma Allen

About the author: Mary Emma Allen is a quiltmaker as well as columnist and operated a quilt business from her home for a number of years. She wrote "The Magic of Patchwork."
More information about her book on her Web Site: http://homepage.fcgnetworks.net/jetent/mea

E-mail: me.allen@juno.com

 

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