But what about the heavier, less-stunning bed coverings, the ones you might want to actually wrap up in rather than hang on a wall?
Today, Janneken Smucker explains “haps”, which, depending on where you live, you may know by another name entirely.
This time of year my bed is piled with quilts and comforters—thick tied (rather than quilted) bedcovers. Most of the historic Amish quilts which have ended up in the hands of collectors and museums are very thin, with just a minimal layer of batting—the inner layer of the quilt sandwich.
What about the heavy quilts, the ones I call comforters but other families and communities may call comforts, comfortables, haps, or simply quilts? These generally do not have fancy piecing and typically are made from heavier fabrics.
Jeannette Lasansky has written about these heavy bedcovers within both the Amish and “English” communities in central Pennsylvania, drawing on evidence from 19th-century estate inventories listing the items in a deceased’s possession, along with surviving examples.
Lasansky observed in her fieldwork in Pennsylvania that tied bed covers were appealing not only because they did not require the laborious quilting stitches, but because one could untie the knots in order to better clean the parts of the sandwich and reassemble with a new batting.
In contrast to the better-known quilts of the Amish, few examples of Amish haps or comforters have made their way into museum collections. Indiana State Museum has great examples from Amish communities in northern Indiana, including this circa 1920 tied four-patch quilt made from denim and this two sided nine patch comforter, circa 1925. But I suspect many similar ones existed and were used up, especially if they were indeed washed regularly.
What other regional names do you know for similarly warm, utilitarian bedcovers? What do Amish people use today to keep warm on cold nights?
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