This semester, in exchange for one glorious credit hour, I am conducting an independent study on the history, evolution, and many iterations of patchwork... and am posting it all on my department's blog! I'll be reposting my slightly edited work here, since it's my intellectual property and all that, and I think you all might enjoy it. Ok here we go!
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The history of patchwork is vast and richly detailed. In examining the many variations of quilts throughout history, it is also necessary to research what social and economic factors gave rise to these forms. Additionally, the development of the textile industry and the increased availability of material played an important role.
As a traditionally female endeavor, quiltmaking is inextricably intertwined with the lives of women; it provides a lens through which to examine the cultural and political currents of the time. In this regard, a quilt’s significance extends far beyond its functionality. Historically, the practice of quiltmaking provided a creative outlet to women whose lives were consumed with the business of running a household, and who had few opportunities to express themselves as a result. Quilting bees also provided a social outlet to women whose domestic existence was very often one of isolation.
|Members Sewing Society, Apache reservation, NM. Smithsonian Institution.|
While the practice of quiltmaking is no longer part of daily life, quilts still hold special meaning for many people. They are sentimental objects symbolic of their maker as well as the time and place of their creation, and often accumulate a great many stories over the course of their existence. For all of these reasons, I have been nurturing a great love of quilts for many years, and hope to share my enthusiasm with you over the course of this semester. Check back soon!