In many cases, black fabric is considered a color reserved for somber occasions and quilts made from black cotton fabric are no different. In fact the use of this particular fabric is characteristic of the quilts made by one particular ethnic population in the United States and, in another instance, it places the quilt at a certain period of time.
The Amish people, clustered in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania, shun all things flashy and colorful as being a part of the wilder outside world they’d rather avoid. They prefer all aspects of life to be more sedate and under control. This desire for simplicity is reflected in the clothing they wear, the homes in which they live, and in all other aspects of their lives as well.
In keeping life simple and reverent, black cotton fabric is used more often than any other when the Amish women make clothing and crafted textiles for use in their homes. No patterned cloth or cloth made from exotic materials is used in an Amish home, where solid colors are preferred instead. Black is the color preferred over all others and cotton is the preferred fabric.
Even Amish quilts are frequently made from solid black cotton fabric that features no adornment other than the intricate stitching that holds the quilt together. It’s the elaborate stitchery that makes these one-colored quilts works of simple elegance.
Black cotton fabric got much wider use after the Civil War in the 1860s. The war devastated the country in many ways and the general population remained in mourning for many years once the war ended.
Women used black cotton fabric to make the vast majority of the clothing worn in a family since most families had lost a heartbreaking number of men in the war. Many of those fallen men were sent to war with quilts to keep them warm but, like the men, the quilts didn’t always return home. The quilts made to replace them were made to be functional, not decorative, and dark, sobering colors were most appropriate at that time.
Of course, not everything made from black cotton fabric, or black fabric of any kind, is meant to be somber and sobering. Think about all the fun and zest for living that is represented in a dashing black tuxedo or that very special little black dress reserved for just the most festive occasions.
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