The art of quilting has been around for centuries. Our ancestors made quilts not just as a hobby, but out of necessity. The coal stove or fireplace would be turned off on cold winter nights, and they needed a way to stay warm while they slept. Driving to the mall to buy a blanket or comforter was not an option. Certainly, there would have been a general store, however, many families did not have the money to purchase a "ready-made blanket." The larger the family, the more covers needed to make sure every family member would be cozy and warm all through the cold winter nights. As with many other customs, the methods and reasons for quilting have changed.
Quilting in Our Grandmothers’ and Great Grandmothers’ Days
Our grandmothers and great grandmothers did not live in a "throw away" day and age. They used everything. Left over fabric from dresses or other garments could be turned into a beautiful handmade quilt, getting the most for the money they spent on fabric.
Their homes were nicely decorated and they were creative in their home decor, however, they handmade the things that made their homes special, including quilts, bedspreads, doilies, dresser spreads, and table coverings.
Pieces were cut out with an ordinary pair of scissors using paper or cardboard patterns which they had to prepare themselves.
Not everyone had the luxury of owning a sewing machine. Often quilts were completely handmade – from cutting out the pieces to sewing on the binding. My grandmother had to sew the pieces for her quilt tops together by hand. The quilts she made remained in excellent condition to be passed down to grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Years ago, the thought of "machine quilting" would not have entered their minds. Hand quilting frames were a common household item, and almost always held a quilt that was in the process of being completed. This meant it took many long hours from the time they started cutting out the pieces until the finished project was ready to use.
One fun part of quilting that seems to have gone by the wayside is the "quilting bee." Making a handmade quilt was often a community project. Many hands working made the process go quicker.
We’ve Come a Long Way in the Art of Quilting
In our day and age, we buy our fabrics especially for the pattern they want to use. Sewing stores have fabrics galore in a huge variety of patterns and colors. A particular pattern can take on many different looks depending on the fabric pattern and colors selected.
Even with all the options and ideas available for home decor today, a handmade quilt as decoration will give your home a special personal touch.
We have many more choices for cutting out the pieces for handmade quilts. We have rotary cutters that can accurately cut through two or three layers of fabric at a time. We have cutting mats with measurements and rulers with grids, which make it easy to cut the sizes and angels you need for your quilt top.
Quilt tops are usually sewn together by sewing machine these days. The many books available today, give tips that make this process go quickly.
In addition to hand quilting, today we have the option of machine quilting. Regular sewing machines and long-arm quilting machines are designed to help your finish your project much quicker.
Today, we do not quilt out of necessity. It has become a hobby and the creative person finds satisfaction from creating a lovely handmade quilt. The methods of quilting have changed, however, a beautiful handmade quilt is still a prized possession. If you display a quilt as decoration in your home, you are sure to get many wonderful compliments when visitors notice it. If you give a handmade quilt as a gift, it will be treasured by the recipient for many years to come.