The Amish are popularly known for producing beautify quilts that feature lovely patterns and colors. A look back into the history of the Amish quilts will show us how quilting became an integral part of Amish lifestyle.
As we all know, the Amish communities are formed by people who shun modernity and opt to live simple lives that is centered on God and family. They live off the land and do without modern conveniences such as electricity, water, mobile phones, cable TV and so on. They live independently, far from the temptations of the modern world, and relying on themselves, making little contact with people outside their community.
The Amish were late in adapting things that are considered modern, and quilting is no exception. When quilting became fashionable in the mid 1800s, the Amish chose not to adapt it and instead used old German coverlets. It was only in around 1870, when quilting was no longer considered fashionable, that they started quilting.
The Amish communities are a conservative people and this is apparent in the designs that they produced. The first Amish quilts were subdued and plain, using solid colors like brown, blue, and black. In terms of fabrics, the more democratic wool and cotton were chosen. Printed fabrics and materials such as silks were considered too frivolous and were rarely used even today.
As the years progressed, it became acceptable for many Amish communities to introduce more colors and more intricate patterns to their quilts. Of course, each community developed differently, and this gave rise to a wonderful variety of Amish quilts. One can often date an Amish quilt by looking that the patterns. The simpler it is, the older it’s likely to be.
But while the rest of the world value Amish quilting for their unique design, for the Amish, quilting remains a utilitarian craft. Quilting is one way for Amish communities to be self sufficient and produce the things that they need. Quilts were made for personal consumption and as gifts for weddings, birthdays, coming of age presents, to show love, friendship and affection, and as fund raisers.
Contrary to what many might think, Amish quilting isn’t all done by hand. The quilts themselves are created by hand. When it’s time to piece them together, a treadle sewing machine is used. This was often an occasion that brought the women of the community together, which made it very natural for quilting to fit the rhythm of life in Amish communities. Quilting became so well integrated into the lifestyle of Amish communities so much so that even when the rest of the world forgot about quilting, the Amish continued to pursue and practice this craft.