History of Quilts in America

This isn't a comprehensive history, but there are some references for you to check out. The image on the right is an absolutely gorgeous wool quilt from the National Quilt Collection, made by Esther Wheat from 1790-1799. From the description, "Esther Wheat's quilt is an example of a glazed wool fabric, not only used for bedding but also petticoats in the eighteenth century. The shiny surface of the quilt top was achieved by calendering, a process of applying heat and pressure with metal plates or rollers to a worsted fabric. In Esther's quilt the high sheen of the fabric enhanced the elaborate quilting of the large feathered heart and two pineapples surrounded by a scrolling vine with flowers. According to the donor, Esther Wheat Lee's great-great-granddaughter, the original plain weave yellow wool lining wore thin and was replaced by Esther's daughter, Olive Lee Doolittle. A thin layer of cotton fiber filling was added before the second lining of red twill weave cotton and wool was quilted to the original lining, but not through the quilt top.Esther Wheat made this quilted indigo-blue wool bed cover for her dower chest in the 1790s. Esther, a twin, was born in 1774 in Conway, Massachusetts. She married Benjamin Lee in 1799 and died at Canastota, New York in 1847. Esther's quilt was passed down through five generations of women before being donated to the Smithsonian in 1973." 

American Tradition by Gail Lang - "Quilts are considered as considerable reflections of our country's history from the 1700's." America's Quilting History - "As settlers and soldiers moved west they brought quilts with them. Native Americans were amazed with these new bedcoverings. Quilting was also introduced to Native Americans by missionaries who sought to "civilize" the natives by teaching them standard European homemaking skills. Native American quilters soon found creative ways to incorporate their own cultural designs into their quilts." In New England as in other places, quilts were affected by the lives of those who lived there, and for lots of New Englanders the overwhelming force in their lives was the ocean. The mighty north Atlantic pounds the coast and offers nourishment, income and danger to the inhabitants of the coast. Numerous conventional quilt patterns honor this influential neighbor!     Critical Between Fact and Myth in Quilting History - essential to read Cryptology and the Slave Quilts - and The account of quilts and the Underground Railroad at these sites are disputed at the website above. Make certain to read all accounts. History of Quilting - Patches of the Past - "In early America eagles were a popular concept in appliqué and in quilting. Later On the Civil War inspired both Union and Secession quilts. Union enthusiasts preferred red, white and blue quilts with stars and stripes. Secession quilts frequently included a circle of 7 stars to representing the Confederate states. As Americans moved westward quilters commemorated the establishment of each state with quilts." "Favored colors were Prussian blue, Turkey red and cinnamon pink. Greens, yellows and browns were likewise utilized. We are often caused believe the colors were rather drab since colors on the quilts from this period have actually usually faded and even altered color."

The Quilt Channel History of Quilts - "Quilts have long been descriptive symbols of America."