From an Andy Weaver Amish home, a quilt in frame:
Thanks to Karen Johnson-Weiner for the photo. Here are a few more Amish interiors:
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I would love to have the time and the room to set up my quilting again!! I have a couple in the works that I have not been able to finish. It would also be cool to have quilting bees like some of the Amish do. Oh how fun that would be!! I don’t know how they find the time to get done as much as they do. But I guess when a group gets together and does it, it goes by a lot faster.
The quilt is beautiful and the other items in the room are interesting. Thanks for sharing the pictures!!
What a cozy, bright room! I can just imagine the ladies around the quilt frame on a cold winter day, chatting, catching up on each other … enjoying their friendships. I love the covered glass chicken dishes on the sideboard. My mother had a couple of those too. Fenton glass I believe.
It looks like it takes a lot of patience i think to quilt. And I’m sure it helps when a bunch of Amish/Mennonite ladies sit around a table and chat a little while quilting. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon county.
Alice, how did you get started quiliting? I’m interested in quilting, but I really don’t know anyone who does and the classes in Chicago start at around $100 a session (eek!). Do you feel that it’s something fairly easy to pick up on or should one have some experience with other sewing projects before moving onto quilts? I’m really excited, but kind of intimidated at the same time :-S
In 1995, my husband and I visited the Lancaster County area. Among other things, we purchased the quilt that STILL covers our bed – because we love it and I have taken great care with it over these many years. The pattern was newly popular back then, called “Country Garden.”
This quilt was appliqued by an Amish grandmother, and sold by her Mennonite granddaughter.
One of the things that really surprised me in that purchase – it was rather pricey for us at the time – was the granddaughter’s willingness to accept our personal check, without showing any proof, or verification. She accepted our check without any supporting materials. That amazed me.
Of the many quilts we could have chosen, the one we walked away with had been the most expensive of all – and beyond a shadow of a doubt, it had our “names” written on it. It simply had to be.
In Holmes County, Ohio, last year, we purchased a small quilt of an Amish girl. That one we purchased inside the home of two elderly Schwartzentruber sisters. Their display was at the back of their house, so we had to walk through their house in order to see their quilts. Truly, I felt like I was in an early American settlement…the kind tourists go through when showing how early Americans live. It was hard to imagine living like that.
Amish quilts as art
Like Richard, I really admire the amount of work that goes into these. And having someone to work along with seems to me an essential part of it, for getting it done faster but more for the sharing that goes on. Alice did/do you quilt solo or with others? Seems like a big job!
And it doesn’t surprise me that people treat Amish quilts like art work. I think there is a lot more artistry in a quilt than in a lot of what passes as “art” these days.
Mary sounds like your quilt may be in the process of acquiring family heirloom status.
Oh I would love to have the time and the space to be able to sew quilts again. I did
when I was younger. Life is just to busy now.
My Grandmother used to sew them into her 80’s
and she did them all by hand and every stitch was perfect! I love quilts and they make such pretty ones to!
Lindsay - Erik
I am self taught. I bought a couple of “getting started in quilting” type books and started there. I think you can pick it up that way, its not really hard and there is no such thing as mistakes because they can all be fixed. Go slow, start with small ones, perhaps tie them off rather than stitch them all. You will improve with each one you do.
I do all my quilting by hand and not on a machine. It is relaxing to me but does make the work much harder and more time consuming. A lot of people today quilt on a machine, not for me, LOL.
Lindsay, I am going to be 53 this year and taught myself how to sew only a few years ago. Don’t let anything intimidate you!! If you really want to learn you can!!
Erik, I quilt alone but sure wish I had a group of ladies to join in, that would be fun!! I have thought about joining a quilter’s guild but really don’t think I am good enough for that. They are pretty particular about how things are done,,,, at least the local ones seem to be.
Thanks for the advice and encouragement Alice! I picked up a beginner’s quilting book on the way home, and my mom gave me her old sewing machine which she hasn’t used in 20 odd years (the machine has to be almost 50 years old…but since it’s barely been used it’s in pretty good shape. It just needs a new belt). I have a bunch of fabric squares to practice on as well…so I think I have everything I need to get started?
I think I’ll start off with a Barbie sized quilt…one of my friends just had a baby girl so it’s good I have someone to give it to as well lol.
Alice–maybe you need to find an Amish quilter’s guild down in Arthur!
That would be cool Erik but as things go, I might not be able to get back down to Arthur for a while. I sent you a private email to let you know what is going on.
Lindsay, that is awesome!! Baby quilts and lap quilts are a good place to start too. I am sure you will love it!! Let us know how you do!!
I am also a quilter. Try to find a local quilt guild in your community. Frequently they will offer classes where you can learn. It is not hard at all to learn to quilt. If you start with a simple pattern of primarily squares and rectangles, you can start small and gradually add to your repertoire. I retired from teaching, took lessons and just keep on learning every time I go to a workshop.
You might also check with local fabric stores to see if they offer any kind of classes. I know JoAnn’s fabrics often has classes, but I’m not sure about Hancock’s or other chain stores.
I should have read through all the posts above before responding. I find I need to add a little.
I machine piece my quilts only because I just started at 60 learning how to do this. I’m impatient to make so many different patterns. I would never get much accomplished if I were to hand piece. Plus, I’m not that good with handsewing and don’t enjoy it.
There are people who will machine quilt your top for you after you finish it, but if you start with a baby quilt, you could learn how to quilt that yourself on your sewing machine.
You might also check Youtube for some amazing tutorials on how to do just about everything. Also google “beginning quilting or quilter” for added information.
I found a local quilt guild to join and have gradually been invited into several smaller groups of 8-12 ladies who get together once a month to sew. I have learned SEW much from all these individuals; some who have been quilting for 20 + years or more.
Usually, all you have to do is ask and someone will be glad to teach you. You might also ask at a local quilt fabric store if they know of someone who might be willing to give you some private one on one time to learn the basics.
I will caution you about one thing. Quilting fabric is addictive. I can’t seem to stop buying fabric!!! 🙂
Karen: “Quilting fabric is addictive. I can’t seem to stop buying fabric!!!”
We must be related. My mother is a life long quilter and at 75, she is still buying fabric. There are 1,000s of pieces of fabric just waiting to be quilted. My dad says he gave up hope long ago and just ignores it. 🙂
There are cases where Amish quilts are made with an intentional flaw, calling it a mark of humility. Since man will never achieve perfection, they don’t want to be prideful in trying to achieve it. Anyone else heard of this and is it still practiced sometimes?
Beautiful quilt there. I love the simplicity of the room. Yes, Bob, I have heard of that mark of humility. They also used to use a humility bead back when they did beaded purses for ladies. A wrongly colored bead was intentionally sewn in as a sign that only God was perfect. Not sure if it is still done on quilts.
Karen, Alice you’re absolute gems. Thanks for your advice and encouragement.
I’ll try the guild route…right now the classes I’ve looked at (including Joann’s) are a bit out of my price range at the moment. I can understand the fabric love too…there are some fabrics by Alexander Henry that I’m in love with at the moment but I have some fat quarters at home to start out on given to me to practice on. I’ll just have to wait until my skills are there.
Lindsay, glad to be of help. I know you will enjoy quilting. Just don’t let yourself get frustrated when you first start out. It will get better. The neat thing about mistakes is they give the piece character.
Check on eBay for fabric when you need it too. Sometimes you can find some pretty good deals.
Mary, You mentioned purchasing an Amish quilt, and how you have taken good care of it over the years. Being as these quilts are so large and heavy, I always wondered how you take care of then especially if they get dirty. Would you have to get them dry cleaned and if so, would that not be expensive.
Usually, you can just wash a quilt in the washing machine. They do make special detergents, but I make my own detergent so I use that. I also put mine in the dryer, but these are the ones that I have made so I know they’ll hold up pretty well and are all machine stitched. The two quilts that I own that were not made by me and are of unknown age and origin, I don’t use that much. I still wash them in the washing machine, but I’ve taken to line drying them now since I’ve had to repair several seams in my favorite one.
I would suggest going the route of a front loading washer or a washer that doesn’t have the agitator in the middle and using a gentle cycle. That would be better for the quilt. It also helps to throw a cup of vinegar in the load to prevent colors from running–just in case. Most quilts would probably come with care instructions.
Feel free to take this advice with a grain of salt. I am of the philosophy that quilts are meant to be used. I enjoy making them and having them. If it’s hanging, it is because I’m not using it at the moment. If you came to my house, you could grab a quilt and curl up with it on the couch, drag it across the kitchen floor when you’re getting a snack, wrap yourself up in it on the porch, etc.
Hi everyone! Glad to come across this discussion about quilts. I just got out my sewing machine and checked out a few places I could get some lessons. I do know how to sew but was thinking about quilting by hand. Or maybe at least some of it. @ Christina, I like your advise and your philosophy (0: Lissa