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There may be no greater symbol of the American spirit than the quilt, which is equal parts thrift, skill, patience, and artistry. Pieces of the past, seemingly worthless scraps of fabric are painstakingly, precisely stitched together. The finished quilt is a triumph, an eloquent testimonial to its maker, and a joy for the viewer to behold. Quilt lovers long ago brought these treasures out of the bedroom, and today there are countless creative ways to decorate every room with them. From porch to pantry, quilts bring life to a home.
Here, the editors of Country Living magazine present some of the finest examples of quiltmaking in America.
In addition to this photographic tribute to the quilt, Country Quilts includes complete, easy-to-understand instructions for creating twenty wonderful designs at home. A portrait of the finished quilt accompanies each project, and a table tells you at a glance how much fabric you'll need. The instructions for assembling the quilt are accompanied by colorful, step by-step illustrations. In addition, full-size pattern pieces, ready to be traced and cut out, are included.
Read an Excerpt
A woman stitching a quilt one hundred years ago had little reason to suspect the work she was doing would someday have historic impact. Her intention those busy days was to sew bed coverings to keep her family warm and, perhaps, enjoy the conviviality of an afternoon or an evening out in the company of other women. Even though other chores were always pressing and a family's needs were never quite fulfilled, women took the time to stitch. The legacy they have left in the form of beautiful quilts is a testament to their skill and ingenuity. And to the lasting value of work invested with equal parts care and craft.
Why do quilts have an enduring effect? Why do people continue to search for ways to include them in their lives? A quilt seems to have resonance, embodying more life than an ordinary bedspread or comforter. Handstitching shows that time and care went into its making. The very look of a homemade quilt seems to invest a room with soul. The quilt stands alone as a symbol of talent, love, and pride.
Simply defined, a quilt is made from three layers of cloth: a top, filler, and a backing. The process of stitching these layers together is called quilting, yet over the years the word quilting has come to mean the entire process of making a stitched bedcover. This is most often done with a pattern of tiny, even stitches over the whole surface. The surface can also be patterned by using different fabrics or fabric arrangements.
While quilting reached a form of high craftsmanship in Europe by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the earliest American quilts were simply two solid-colored pieces of cloth bound together with fancy stitching. Known as whole-cloth quilts, they resembled today's comforters.
Excerpted from Country Living's Country Quilts. Copyright 1992 by The Hearst Corporation.