Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why Do We Quilt?

I picked up the book Quilting Traditions by Patricia T. Herr at the DAR museum shop.  In chapter 3 "Rites of Passage Commemorated" the Heritage Center of Lancaster County conducted a statistical analysis of the reasons their recorded quilts were made.  Below is a breakdown of the various rites of passage commemorated by quilts inventoried by their center.

Lancaster County Quilts
Marriage includes dowries, hope chests, and setting up house keeping.  The Miscellaneous includes birthdays, departures, and other misc. events.

I was inspired by this type of analysis and ran a survey of my own quilts to look at the reasons I quilt in a similar way.

My Quilts

Obviously the bulk of my work fits into the Misc. category, which actually breaks down in a variety of interesting reasons.  I have made many gifts over the years for family members, I also tend to try out many patterns, like the one I'm working on now.  (In fact, as I moved with my handwork across the country from kid to kid, each one asked, "Who are you making that one for?" and I had to answer that I was making it just for the fun of trying out the pattern I had seen on another blog). 

My Quilts Breakdown

What I'd really like to know is why you all quilt.  I'd like to see if we're trending in any way as a community of quilters.  I'm adding a poll to my sidebar - pick the top-most reasons why you quilt.  I'll start with the Lancaster county categories, but if you don't feel these suit you, leave me a comment to tell me why you quilt and I'll add it to the poll. 

In case you are impressed with my skill in creating this post, forget it! Tonight I will fly out of D.C. leaving my Guru son behind. From this point forward, it will be the old mom making the posts ... no fancy stuff ... no interruptions from hugging grand kids ... and one month accumulation of dog hair.


  1. How interesting, indeed, dear Julie !
    THANKS for showing and... of course I voted on your sidebar ;>) (my main reasons being misc./friendship/ AND the curiosity of trying a new pattern!


  2. I fit in the miscellaneous category too. :)

  3. I quilt because I love to create. Just love it. I NEED to work with my hands also, otherwise they would be stuffing food in my face all day long!

  4. I too am in the misc. category, and yes. I put in a tick as well.Have a safe flight home, you have had a great visit with the family .Cheers.Jean

  5. I'm adding to the misc category. I love quilting and it gives me the perfect gift for babies, fundraisers, and "just because."

  6. ha! mine would be similar, I just make a quilt to make it, THEN figure out afterwards if I should hold on to it or who to give it to etc.

  7. I quilt as a demonstration of my love and care and to leave a legacy. I had been dreaming about quilting for YEARS but had always been too busy with family and working full time. It's something I had planned to do after I retire. But life has a funny way of making you change gears. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 49 and it drove me to start quilting with a sense of urgency fed by desperation ... desperate to leave a tangible legacy for the people I love because suddenly life didn't look so certain. I wanted my family and friends to have quilts to "remember me by". Sounds morbid but it doesn't feel that way. Growing up, handmade things have always been treasured and my parents are the epitome of artisans. Because I value the thought, time, skill, and heart that goes into handmade items, I want to give such items of value to my peeps.

    So ... ultimately ... I quilt to leave a piece of myself behind that family and friends can hold on to long after I've left this earth.

  8. I definitely like your range of options better than the Lancaster County categories. And yes I was impressed with your fancy blog post! I quilt to express myself, because I love fabric and how it comes together so cleverly to be something beautiful. And inevitably I want to share my quilts with others: family, friends, new babies, people I admire for giving so much of themselves, and my blog friends.

  9. What an interesting survey, it's made me think a lot. You'll miss all those hugs once you get home, nothing beats the warm (and possibly sticky) hug of a grandchild, get loads before you leave.

  10. This is a really interesting post.I like the graphs and codes. One of the key reasons I quilt is plain old relaxation and mental health. I think it is so relaxing and melts the tension away. I wished more people quilted.

  11. Love the charts! I never thought about where my quilts were going. I do get asked who am I making this one for quite often. During my early years, quilts were made for family, marriages, babies, and friends leaving. The majority of my quilts go to charity now.

  12. Very interesting! I have made lots of quilts for all the other reasons but only one for a wedding.
    Hope your visit with your family was great!

    1. With six kids and many friends, there are lots of opportunities ... in fact, more than I have time for.

  13. I love your post very much. I would be in gifts.
    Hug, sandra

  14. I like your survey! I started quilting in 1991 as a way to "connect" to my great-grandmother and those old traditions. The whole thing by hand, took half a year! I was hooked, and then when my grandma taught me to machine quilt, I was REALLY hooked and spent years making one baby quilt after another. I love hearing from someone that they really USE the baby quilt. I believe quilts are made more special and beautiful with lots of use, washings, and LIFE.

  15. This is very interesting! Quite a few of my quilts were made for family (births, marriages, sickness), then for international swaps, donations and for friends and finally for my husband and myself and our cats to enjoy. Quilting and working with fabric is total relaxation for me.

    Looking back at my quilts and wall hangings, there is a wee bit of me hugging someone or hanging on a wall somewhere in the world and that makes me smile!

    Safe travels.