When most people think of the Amish, images of barn raisings, horses and buggies and quilts come to mind. Most people are unaware the Amish were still using German coverlets and featherbeds long after their neighbors began quilting. This was because Amish communities stayed away from temptations present in the modern world. Changes were gradually made by the Amish and they began quilting in approximately 1870. The Amish chose conservative styles in solid colors of blue, brown, black and rust.
Amish quilts were made using plain fabrics of worsted wool. The quilting was intricate and included patterns such as swirling feathers, grids and curves. The Amish gradually added additional colors and basic piecing. Some of the quilts featured a large diamond in the center with a wide border of dark fabric. The colors evolved, and they began using olive green, pumpkin and dark red. The new colors remained solid and deep. Block patterns were adopted including the mariners compass quilt, Nine Patch, Sunshine, Shadow and Around the World. Solid colored fabrics was still used but the colors were more varied. These quilts were made from cotton or wool. For more information please visit here.
Black is the integral part of Amish quilts. Amazing results were achieved due to the simplicity and creativity of the women. The combination of saturated hues and black is distinctive and vibrant. These quilts were for special occasions and not everyday use. The quilting was done by hand, but the piecing was often done with a treadle sewing machine. The piecing was accomplished at home, but numerous women gathered around the quilting frame. Quilting was one of many traditional tasks accomplished in groups. Community approval was required for any changes in the way the quilts were made. This meant there was a lot of variety between the communities because each one followed their unwritten guidelines.
Some of the more conservative areas considered white or pink fabric unacceptable. The more liberal areas believed browns were old fashioned and dull. Brighter colors were not used until the beginning of the twentieth century. This was when complex designs were adapted from traditional patterns. The Amish used synthetics during World War II because natural fibers were extremely difficult to find. The nation began to think of quilting as old fashioned, but the tradition was continued by the Amish. Pastels and the rare printed fabric were added by the Amish during the 1940’s. Appliques were used, there was more freedom of design and the amount of detailing decreased. For more details please visit this site.
Americans discovered Amish quilting in 1976 during the bicentennial. The popularity caused the Amish women to begin making more quilts to sell. These quilts were also made for personal uses including friendship, babies, weddings and fundraisers. Many of these quilts were made by grandmothers because the young mothers did not have the time. The modern quilt artists still receive their inspiration from the Amish. They often favor basic designs in solid colors including black. This concept has been an inspiration for the majority of quilters.