Thursday, August 9, 2012


When I hear the word quilt, my mind pictures elaborately stitched creations like those made by the Amish. My wife & I love quilts and occasionally frequent quilt shows and exhibitions to see new patterns and cleverness of design. But I was reminded by a post at of the humble origins and true nature of quilts. My mental image of quilts was equivalent to thinking of hybridized orchids as the only "true" flowers or a gourmet meal as "food".

Quilts were meant to be practical. I have two "camping quilts" that my grandmother made that we still use in the winter. They are made with a simple design of large squares of old scraps. As the fabric gets old and brittle we've replaced some of the squares. In centuries past, quilts were highly valued, often being listed in the inventory of homes for inheritance settlements. 

A quilt is not the fabric design but the construction method of building a blanket sandwich with two outer sheets and an warm insulating center . "Quilting" is the stitching that keeps the insulation in place so it does not bunch up or slide to one end of the quilt. There are "whole-cloth" quilts with no cut pieces at all, just two white sheets and bunting in the middle and yet these can be amazingly beautiful with elaborate stitching patterns used to sew the layers together.

The elaborate stitching patterns are optional. My wife made a denim quilt a few years ago; she bought old jeans at tag sales, removed the seam stitching, ironed them flat, cut squares, and connected the squares on a sewing machine.  For the final "quilting" step we used a thick needle and yarn to tie the layers together with a knot every 6 inches or so apart.

I also learned from the post that denim is not the best choice for a quilt. It's heavy. (I'll say, you can feel the quilt pressing down as you sleep).
"when you want to stay warm, heavy is not what you want.  To properly insulate yourself from the cold, you need trapped air, and if the top layer of the quilt is of a heavy fabric, it squishes down the insulation and just doesn't keep you as warm."

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Blogger Bruce and Victoria said...

This reminds me of a quilt my son and I made when he was a teenager. Then when he joined the service and got deployed, the first thing he wanted me to send him was that quilt. Yes it was made from denim. lol

August 22, 2012 at 8:06 PM  

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