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Quilts have been used from birth to death - to celebrate, to mark life changes, for the holding of memories, and to mourn.
Quilts for babies’ cribs are almost a necessity. If you don’t make one for your own baby, an aunt, grandmother, cousin or friend is likely to make one for you.
The advantage of crib quilts is their size - easier to work with, not so time consuming - and an excuse to really go to town with design and skill for a newborn.
Quilts in America were often made to signify an engagement to be married. Creating quilts for the newlyweds’ home was always a joyful undertaking, and a chance for the girls to get together, for advice to be given, and the lucky girl to let the world know how happy she was.
Wedding presents - what better than a quilt. They are markers of your children’s lives and their path into the future with families of their own.
There are many very fortunate children who have quilts made for them by their grandmothers. Incorporating references to the child hood life and family, pets, friends, and places they have lived and visited. These are irreplaceable and beyond value, and I wish I had had one made for me!
Sadly too, in death - in the American civil war, soldiers were often buried in their quilts, which they had taken with them to keep them warm at night. Many quilts were, of course, destroyed during the war, and many were taken as mementos by others.
Quilts were made after death too, as commemoratives of the departed, and to indicate the grief and sadness of the mourners.
Perhaps more than any other piece of household linen, the quilt has a role from birth to death, and can be as personal or impersonal, as cheerful or sad, large or small, colorful, patterned or plain.
They can be decorated in any number of ways, and using almost any sort of fabric, the quilt is both an exceedingly practical and potentially stunningly beautiful piece. It is a combination of traditional or modern styles, personal choice, lovingly sewn and an indicator of our self, our place and our time.
Fashions apply in the world of quilting as with other textiles. We have seen the resurgence, in particular, of the traditional patterns of American patch work, and these are really now considered classic styles, and hopefully will continue forever.
The joy of quilting, however, is in its variety, and its potential for the artistic talent of the creator. The large and complex patchwork patterns are wonderful, and just as wonderful are the smaller quilts, which can say anything you want.
They can be about your family, your home, your village, city or country. They can be about your joys or your despair; your love or your loss.
In California, for example, there is The Quilt Project, which is part of the Cervical Cancer program, and which has squares made in memory of women who have lost their lives to the cancer, or who have suffered cancer but have been fortunate enough to beat it.
There are also quilts put together to hold the memories of people who have died from Aids or Ovarian Cancer.
They are all beautiful pieces of work, and wonderful works of art. They are also very personal to the people who have lost loved ones, and commemorate the people who died or suffered.
The quilts are exhibited in health centers, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries, and are used to raise awareness, to raise funding and to help promote more research.