Where Did Those Amish Designs Come From? (part 1)
Amish quilts have made the Amish people famous throughout the world for their beautiful designs, bold colors, and quality workmanship, but of course this type of worldwide notoriety was never the intention of the Amish quilters. The Amish began quilting in the early part of the 1800s, just like women of other communities at the time. While the idea of creating art just for art's sake is something the Amish reject, the idea of creating something useful that also happens to be beautiful is something the early Amish quilters learned to embrace over time.
The earliest Amish quilts were simple, one-color whole cloths that consisted of embroidered designs on the top of the quilts. The idea of stitching different pieces of colored fabric together was gradually accepted over time by Amish quilters, but it was based in the Amish belief that everything serve a useful purpose rather than just making it look pretty. These early Amish quilters would collect scraps of cloth from their other sewing projects and save them for quilting rather than throwing the smaller pieces of fabric away. This idea of giving something purpose out of what was once waste appealed to the Amish. From this point on, the multi-colored Amish quilts were embraced and quilting took off in Amish communities across the country.
At the time, Amish quilts were, for the most part, indistinguishable from other quilts being made by non-Amish quilters. However, around the mid to late 1800s, the Amish quilt began making its transformation from plain and everyday to something unique and identifiable as an Amish product. While the Amish are known for their plain and simple dress and way of life, the Amish quilts began to take on a very distinctive look. Bright, solid fabrics were used to create geometric patterns using simple square and rectangular designs. These bold patterns were then contrasted against a black or dark colored border, creating a striking and attractive design. Over time, small designs began showing up in the borders and corners of the Amish quilts. Natural, simple designs, such as grapevines, tulips, baskets, and feathers, were common styles seen in these early Amish quilts.
As the traditional Amish quilt design began taking shape in the early 1900s, they became bolder and bigger. Traditional Amish quilts are generally square in shape, have wide dark borders, and use corner blocks in their designs. The colors they used in their designs were generally bright blues, purples, greens, and reds. These were the colors that were used in their own clothing, so leftover fabrics were used from these pieces to make quilts. Solid fabrics were almost always used on the fronts of the Amish quilts, but the use of a patterned fabric as the backing piece could be seen in some Amish quilting communities. The size of these Amish quilts has also evolved, getting bigger over time due to the use of larger sized beds.
Where Did Those Amish Designs Come From? (part 2)