Dare to Uncover
the History of Quilting

History of Quilting follows the events of the time, location and life style of the artist, and discloses a story spelled out in most antique quilt patterns or any quilting projects that involve the support of our military service.

The interesting thing about an antique quilt is that it discloses life- style stories as told through pictures made from fabric. In our quilt gallery we would like to display your quilt and what it means to you.


Harriet Powers, known as the "mother of African-American quilting," was born into slavery in Georgia. Her Civil War Quilts were created after the Civil War and still hang in museum today. 

Experts Using A Needle

history of quilting

Female slaves were experts with a needle and thread and the skill was handed down from generation to generation and is evident in this quilt which is named "Adam and Eve Naming the Animals," and resides at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Harriet Powers incorporates her spiritual knowledge, her love of animals, and her ability to sew to create the very necessary quilts for warmth and comfort. Her Civil War Quilt Patterns are on display yet today.

Soon after the Civil War a traveling circus came to Georgia with animals that were not native to that part of the world. Harriet's detailed rendering of a salamander tells a story of its own.

The quilt, Naming the Animals, includes individual panels with a likness to three camels, an elephant, an ostrich, a sea monster and a serpent.

The seemingly unusual serpent-like form is actually a rendering of a lizard-like amphibian.

The likeness right down to the color of the eyes and the shape of the feet, is actually a likeness to a serpent-like form as described in the familiar Bible stories she listened to.

No matter how old a quilt is there is a lot to learn when studying the history of quilting.

Harriet learned the Bible stories by singing Negro spirituals and by attending church while listening to the local preachers.

This quilt is a result of Harriet Powers' background, life style and talents.

This FREE Civil War quilt Pattern is available for anyone who would like to personalize the design with their background, life style and talents.


History Of Quilting Binds Together
More Than Just Fabric.

crazy quilting

The history of quilting is personal for me. Someone said, “All objects formed by man or woman are affected by the circumstances in which they are made.” This is true for my life.

There are several events that have shaped me into what I am: I was born during the Second World War, I knew what a victory garden was, I learned jingles and songs that taught me about patriotism, and I was fortunate enough to be born in Ohio.

The war effort included some member of every family. My Uncle Carl served in the US Army on the island of Sicily and was buried on the peninsula of Italy. Newspaper banners, cloth banners and quilt banners were always displayed in windows of anyone that had a family member serving their country.

I remember helping make one of those banners out of red, white and blue pieces of fabric and it hung in the window. I watched as Mother paused often in front of the banner without saying a word. It was not until I got older that I realized the history of quilting could bind together more than just fabric.

freedom quilts

Everything is relevant in the history of quilting. In the early spring it took Mother and everyone else that was old enough to plant a victory garden. The ground was turned using a shovel or a hand guided garden plow so that all kinds of vegetable and potato seeds could be planted. Once the garden was planted Mother would hang a quilted flag on the fence to show our patriotism and the support of the war efforts.

Even though I was young I made yo-yo quilt stars from scraps of white fabric. I cut the fabric into small circles and used a needle and thread to gather the edge of the circle into a tight ball. My older sisters sewed the circles on the flag. Little wonder that the making of yo-yo quilts are one of my favorite techniques in the history of quilting.

Everything was rationed from sugar, coffee, shoes, gasoline, food and even fabrics. The principal at my school issued books of coupons. The coupons were used to purchase rationed commodities. Once your coupons were gone you could not purchase any more so you made everything count.

Because I was small and young I was engaged as a scavenger and would search the trash for gum wrappers and cigarette packs to get the silver. Everything counted. I went around dutifully reminding others to use it up, wear it out, and make it do, or do without. Another favorite was, Buy, buy bonds and help us fight the war; another one, Uncle Sam needs you! This is powerful stuff for any young mind but it is a part of my memories and how the history of quilting influenced my life.

sewing machine quilting

Most people owned a sewing machine. All garments, household linens and handmade quilts were made on a Singer sewing machine. No pre-made stuff!

Learning to quilt is often a collaborating effort between mothers and daughters. And so it was with me and sister, Alice. We cut our teeth on sewing handbags, dresses and yes, quilts using feed sacks. When the contents of the feed sacks were used up the cloth was recycled because cotton fabrics were rationed and hard to come by.

Quilt making slowed during and immediately after the Second World War. The downward turn was in part because the women remained in the work force which resulted in less time to quilt. Commercialism flourished during this time and one of the items that could be found in abundance was precut quilting kits.

The near demise of quilting during this time period was blamed on the absence of creativity. While the quilting kits provided a quicker solution they also stymied creativity and imagination in homemade quilts.

Quilt making lost its excitement as an art just as paint-by-number paintings do. And we all know what happens when one becomes bored with a quilting project! I bet you have a few of these projects laying around waiting to be finished.

how to hand a quilt

Ohio’s quilt makers honored personal occasions such as commemorating major historical victories like America’s birth, centennial and bicentennial anniversaries.

In times of war Ohioans made freedom quilts for the soldiers or raised funds for the war effort. The tradition carried over to making baby quilts for your local hospital for all the new born babies.

In the 1980’s statistics show that Ohio’s quilters symbolized a strong family bond at a time when the breakdown of the traditional family was an epidemic proportion. Stay tuned, history tends to repeat itself.

Today our Quilts of Valor page gives all our viewers an opportunity to support our wounded warriors.  The FREE QOV Pillowcase Instructions is designed to slide the quilt into the pillowcase before giving it as a gift to our Men and Women who protect all the rest of us day in and day out.

This is not the first time in my life where I was given an opportunity to support our troops.

The idea is near and dear to my heart and I hope it will be for you too. This is a wonderful challenge to you to get involved and become a patriot and support your country! Click on our 'Quilts of Valor' page and get involved by providing a freedom quilt for a warrior! You won't be sorry!

Homemade quilts are a work of art! The history of quilting seems to follow a click. For example in Tennessee, where Alice lives, quilters frame their quilt blocks with sashes and contrasting corner blocks; I found very few examples of sash work in Ohio.

So I go back to my original analogy of, “all objects formed by man are affected by the circumstances in which they are made.” Quilts are made by all economic levels and accessible as subjects for study by all who are interested. Score big and look for articles about the history of quilting. Learn to recognize machine quilting designs that came before you.

Many of our easy quilt patterns predate the Civil War and beyond. Give them a look!







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I bought the pattern from you for the Alec's Civil War quilt and it is coming along great. But I have 1 question, did you quilt through the screen printed soldier pictures or just quilted around them. Thank You,
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