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Quilts--no longer just for beds

Once upon a time, people made quilts to keep them warm while in bed. Today, quilts can be a form of art.  They are being used as decorations in the home as well as being found in many museums.

Quilts : masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum
by Elizabeth V. Warren; with a preface by Maria Ann Conelli; a foreword by Martha Stewart; and an introduction by Stacy C. Hollander.
New York : Rizzoli, 2010.
From America’s preeminent museum collection, this definitive volume places the quilt firmly in the realm of art. Combining economy with artistry and everyday craftsmanship with extraordinary beauty, quilts hold a unique place in American culture. Each quilt tells a story about its maker and her community; seen together, these monumental textiles paint a broad picture of the development of a national character and uncover the hidden history of women’s contribution to art. This volume brings together the two hundred most important examples from the esteemed collection of the American Folk Art Museum, many of which are shown here for the first time. Each masterpiece was chosen carefully as an emblem of its time, style, and technique. Concise texts introducing each chapter remain entirely accessible in tone and never intrude upon the full-page image reproductions and countless detail enlargements that reveal the intricate stitching and surprising dimensionality of the works.
     
Exploring embellishments more artful quilts with fast-piece appliqué
Rose Hughes.
Woodinville, WA : Martingale & Company, 2010.
Take your Fast-Piece appliqué quilting adventure to the next level with this superb new book from popular quilting teacher Rose Hughes. In Exploring Embellishments, readers will learn how to use fabrics, fusible fibres, felt, paper, beads, buttons, threads, and more, to create their very own embellishments ¿ and how to use them to for the greatest effect in your own designs.
     
500 art quilts : an inspiring collection of contemporary work
[senior editor, Ray Hemachandra].
New York : Lark Books, 2010.
This vibrant collection presents 500 magnificent contemporary art quilts, made in fabric and other media, and showcases diverse designs, materials, and techniques.
     

Whether done by hand or by machine, the technique is basically the same. Fabric or other material is stitched together, then this piece can be placed on a backing, and possibly a layer of “batting” placed between the two.

One traditional method of quilting was to use scraps of material cut and sewn together into some pattern.  The stitches might be smaller or larger depending upon whether the maker wanted them as part of the design. Patterns might be geometrical or “crazy.” They might use an appliqué to make a picture, cut an item from another fabric such as chintz, use stenciling, painting, or writing on the fabric or textile art.

Quilting is one of the most popular American crafts. Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson provides practical techniques for quilters from beginners to experts.

Ask Alex

Quilts have been used to tell stories, as expressions of a culture or way of life or as memorials, such as the AIDs Memorial Quilt.  Some were made by slaves to guide other slaves to freedom. Some are expressions of one’s skill or a record an event in someone’s life.  Some quilters stitch for the joy and fun of the activity and their creation is to be admired or gifted to someone.

In recent times there have been controversies as to how traditional a quilt should be. Some, including quilt artist Barbara McCraw, feel that once quilting became an art form, few restrictions should be placed on it.  Deciding whether to designate quilts as art or craft is part of this discussion. Some will designate certain quilt styles as art-in-fabric.

Everyone will find something to admire in a quilt and it will be loved by the maker and anyone who has one.

More about quilting

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff