Sometimes what’s old becomes new again for good reason. For hundreds of years, people have made quilts. The sturdy, insulating blankets traversed oceans and continents. Layers provide warmth and insulation, while cheerful patterns could be created economically from clothing scraps. Add a dash of human ingenuity, and quilt images can document events. Now the treasured tradition is showing up in modern homes as a trend in home décor.
Georgia Bonesteel is a professional quilter with an inherent appreciation of color, fabric, and design. Bonesteel loves her craft, and she loves teaching people how to do it.
Quilts aren’t just for making beds cozy these days. They can add a pop of color to walls, tables, and couches. Quilted pillows, placemats, and wall hangings take far less time to make than traditional bed quilts, and they add a fun twist to the age-old craft. Some modern artists use everyday items like duct tape, leather, and old blue jeans for quilts. Sabrina Gschwandtner made a quilt series from old film strips. When light shines behind one of these quilts, patterns appear.
Traditional quilts have three layers sandwiched together. The top layer has multiple fabrics cut in pieces like a puzzle and arranged in patterns. The middle layer is fluffy batting. It adds thickness and holds air to lock in warmth. The underlayer is often a single piece of fabric. Thread stitched through the three layers all over holds them together and creates extra insulating ability.
Proverbs 31:22 says the wise woman “makes bed coverings for herself.” The earliest quilters understood that layering fabrics increased warmth and protection. “It was a necessity, providing warmth for the family during winter. New fabrics were not purchased for quilts. The fabric was what was left from the clothes people wore,” explains Susan Scott. Her grandmother taught her. “I remember her sitting in her rocking chair hand-sewing quilt squares.” Fifty years later, she carries on the tradition.
Bonesteel has seen the quilting craft change over the years. In fact, she has enhanced the tradition herself. She figured out how to efficiently quilt a blanket section by section using a small hoop instead of a huge quilting frame. Her method is called “lap quilting.” Today, quilters everywhere use her original ideas.
For the last eight years, Pat Capone and her friend Mavis Bosch have enjoyed a virtual quilting night once each week. These traditional quilters are thankful that technology keeps them connected. They treasure time together to quilt. “We show each other projects that we’re working on. Sometimes we sew and don’t even talk,” says Capone.