It’s not likely a quilter sets her (or his) mind to devising a new pattern and giving it a unique, new name right on the spot. It’s more likely that a quilt maker works with fabrics on hand and develops a pleasing way to display them, with patterns that garner particular favor or requests for duplicates getting named, after the design instead of before.
That’s likely the history of the name behind the double wedding ring quilt, one of the most popular quilting patterns for many, many generations of quilters. There seems to be little evidence of the very first quilt made of this design but there are several stories crediting its origin, all filled with romance.
The design of two rings interlocked can be traced back to ancient Rome, where the pattern embellishes dishes and glassware of the day. It’s no stretch of the imagination to think of the citizens of ancient Rome snuggling under a quilt decorated in similar fashion to ward off the chilly night air.
Gimmal rings became popular as a symbol of engagement during the 15th and 16th centuries in Europe and some quilters say this is when the double wedding ring quilt came into existence. As for the jewelry, a betrothed couple each wore one matching ring to signify their impending nuptials. Once actually married, the two rings were fitted together to be worn by the bride.
The first pattern for a double wedding ring quilt was published in the United States in Topeka, Kansas, in 1928. It was featured in the Capper’s Weekly, where the publisher claimed an unnamed man devised a double ring wedding ceremony and his wife quickly designed a quilt to match.
Another account of the origin of the double wedding ring quilt, published in 1932, said the quilt pattern was a result of the American Civil War, when a couple engaged to be married postponed their wedding for years to allow for the wounded groom-to-be to recover from war wounds. Having no money for rings, the bride’s thoughtful aunt was said to supply them herself, in the form of a quilt designed especially for the wedding celebration.
It isn’t really necessary to know who made the first double wedding ring quilt or how the name came into being. It’s enough to know this is one of the most popular quilting patterns ever and its popularity is as strong today as it has ever been.