African American Quilts

The history of African American quilts is believed to be as ancient as the history of America itself. Though the African American quilt fabric and designs belonged to the upper class whites, some African American women gained great expertise and popularity in making them. Black slave women used to do spinning, weaving, sewing and quilting on plantations and in wealthy households. Many women used to make quilts out of necessity. They used scraps, old clothes and feed sacks for making quilts.

Pine Cone quilt, also known as the Pine Burr quilt is one of the most popular patterns of African American quilt. It is a three dimensional quilt which is made by overlapping triangles. Starting at the center, triangles are placed in a circular pattern gives the look of a pine cone. Historians suggest that the Pine Cone quilts were very popular among African American quilters. It was considered to be a masterpiece as the art of fine appliqué was in Caucasian communities.

Migration to the cities during the 1920s brought about new opportunities for quilting. Church and senior centers supported African American women in their quilting skills; b esides industrialization created various options for employment in the north as well. Later a number of women started enjoying the art of quilting and took up making quilts not merely for necessity but also for pleasure. Historians suggests that black women made quilts of same pattern that were popular in their times. Financial status was also a major factor that influenced the patterns made by women irrespective of their cultural heritage. Women belonging to the poor families made quilts of scraps and old clothes whereas white and black women used to make string quilts.

Whole cloth quilt was one of the first patterns brought to America by immigrants. The real beauty of the pure white or colored quilts reflects mainly from detailed quilt designs. It helps to bring texture and shadows to the piece.  Quilts made by needle workers were also very popular as it called for high standards of skill and immense patience. African America quilts mainly had floral designs combined with feathered and geometric patterns. Many quilts also included images of ships, people and animals.

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