Quilts, Quilting & a Quilt TrailAugust 20, 2014
To see some modern-day Appalachian quilts of all styles, visit the annual Appalachian Festival in Beckley on Aug 22-24, 2014. More than 100 artisans will be showing off their works at the Arts & Crafts Fair during the event, along with live entertainment and food. There will also be a Quilt Show and Quilter’s County Store.
You can also explore the tradition of quilting through the untouched countryside on the Monroe County Quilt Trail. Follow the quilt patterns through this remote county, to farmland barns, historic buildings and past old mills.
Quilting is an art form & quilts can tell a story . . .
The subtleties of traditional quilting, our region’s most iconic craft, hide the complexity of its technique and heritage.
A quilt is simply two layers of fabric with padding between, but the hours of stitching and care that goes into them makes them prized possessions.
Quilts were not an American invention, but pioneer ingenuity created a whole new style of them. Settlers didn’t have easy access to materials to fix quilts when they tore, so they would use old clothing scraps to patch the holes. This eventually developed into the traditional patterns we know in Southern WV today.
The new style was created with geometric shapes of fabric, worked into patterns both elegantly simple and creatively elaborate. Women would keep books of their favorite patterns, and share them with friends.
In the early days, quilting was a communal craft, and women and girls formed “quilting bees” to work together to complete each blanket.
The quilts were both used and displayed various ways around a home. A young lady was to have completed a certain number of quilts by the time she had her own home, usually a few more than 10.
One of the important quilts was a wedding quilt, which featured a design of interlocking circles. (Hearts were bad luck, lest they be broken. But floral patterns were said to have foretold a healthy, happy marriage.)
Quilting also grew into a personal expression throughout history, with women stitching anti-slavery or wartime slogans into their blankets.
Because of their personal touch and important place within the family, quilts are often passed down through generations as family heirlooms.
What would you want your family quilt look like?