The Amish quilt started around the 1870’s, because of their religious beliefs to stay isolated from the modern world of pleasures and conveniences, quilting was at first a temptation that the Amish women resisted. After realizing the practical use of the quilt, they eventually became a normal part of Amish lifestyle.
The first Amish quilts were very plain with solid dark colored fabric, a lot like the clothing they wore. But their talent for the elaborate designs is what made their quilts famous. After much discussion, in the Amish community, over several years the Amish women slowly made modification to their patterns and colors. This decision, like all the Amish decisions, had to be approved by the Amish Community. Today there is more individual input to how the quilts are designed and what patterns are used to create the unique and beautiful colored hand stitched quilts that we see and love today.
Although the outside world doesn’t understand the Amish community, it is the center of Amish existence. Friends and family work together on projects for the entire community. Such as bringing in the crops, building a barn, this is often called a frolic. Women will gather at a chosen home to do canning vegetables, fruits and jellies. Usually one woman will piece a quilt together, but it is not uncommon to have several women around the quilting frame to help stitch the quilt together; this is often referred to as a quilting bee or quilting circle. This allows the women to do something they love and to catch up on everything that is happening in the community.
The Amish believe a woman’s ability to create and hand stitch a quilt is a gift from God that should be used to its fullest ability. Many of the young girls are taught to start quilting by the age of four years old. This helps to explain why they provide such expert stitching in the Amish quilts.
Today, many consider the unique quilt patterns a work of art. More and more families want their own Amish quilt, not just because of it practical use, but for its artistic value. Amish quilts are often used as a piece of wall décor, wedding gifts, birth of a child and they make a great fund raisers.
The term Amish Quilt is used to describe a quilt with the combination of traditional Amish quilt block patters, and made by an Amish or a Mennonite quilter. The reason for this is because the Amish and Mennonites share similar cultural habits. They lived alongside each other since immigrating to the United States. Their history of quilting and their patterns are the same.
By Fran E Kestner