Quilting is a folk art, using geometric shapes to tell a story. Egyptians sewed the first quilts in 3,400 B.C., and the Chinese began quilting in the same time period. There are several kinds of quilts, with materials including scraps of cloth, paper, feed sacks and wood. Throughout history, quilting has changed with the times based on materials available and skill levels. Some quilts provide warmth, while other types are solely works of art meant for displaying.
Crazy quilts use scraps of cloth in assorted shapes to build the facing. Use any piece of cloth you want, such as neck ties, silk dresses, towels or T-shirts, to build a crazy quilt. This kind of quilt serves a dual purpose, of both warmth and memory keeping. Construct a crazy quilt from materials that belonged to a loved one, such as baby blankets or children’s clothing, for a way to preserve memories of the person during a specific time period. When sewing a crazy quilt, the facing pieces have no standard size or geometric shape and form a mosaic-style pattern. The embroidery techniques used to connect the pieces are just as prevalent as the pattern on the facing.
Feed Sack Quilts
During times of economic hardship, quilters used burlap cloth from feed sacks for facing as cloth was a limited commodity. Periods of depression and war times, such as the Great Depression of the 1930s and World Wars, when cloth was restricted for purchase, provided quilters with the need to repurpose feed sacks for quilting material. Feed sacks initially held staple foods, including grains, sugar and potatoes. After purchasing these food items, the feed sack would be deconstructed and cut into pieces for quilting. By the 1950s, manufacturers had come to realize the popularity of this kind of quilt. They began producing feed sacks in desirable patterns and colors especially for quilters, which encouraged quilters to continue collecting and creating quilts from these sacks even though cloth was once again available.
Paper squares and other geometric shapes that feature photos, letters or artwork are pieced together in this kind of quilting. Wood or another hard surface is used for backing. The pieces are glued onto the surface rather than sewn together. Anyone who is old enough to use scissors can make a paper quilt. Paper quilts serve a different purpose than quilts that keep you warm. This kind of quilt preserves memories and displays art. Paper quilts are a great project for groups to memorialize members. Groups gathered together for family reunions, at veterans’ hospitals, in school or at church work together to build the paper quilt. For a more cohesive finish, a geometric pattern is created using solid colored pieces that stand out among the individual pieces.
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