Stitching Friendship: July 2

Friendship Quilts have a long history in the United States. Many writers credit the period of Western expansion in the 1840’s and 1850’s with popularizing the practical art form, but we think it may have to do with deeper trends in the society. Why did the women, starting in New England in the 1840’s, begin the craze of making quilts with friends creating separate blocks and often recording the names of those friends in the quilts themselves? Was it more than just the fact of friends moving West and knowing that quilts stitched in memories of friends who would probably not be seen again?

The 1840’s saw a flowering of culture, education, optimism and a focus on “inner feeling”. The Second Great Awakening with its camp meetings brought more women together. “Sentiment” in poetry by Poe, Browning, Shelley and Wordsworth flourished. Works by Dickens, the Bronte sisters, the Alcotts, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and others were read and discussed. Social reform movements brought women together even more. Friendships were formed.

We all know the differing types of Friendship Quilts. But how does that fit into our modern way of life? We still may follow the early methods of album or signature quilts, but there are also new ways. Renee Conrad‘s Friendship Quilt top shows one way of spanning the distance while making a quilt with the aid of online sites for block patterns.

Renee writes,

“Friendshipquilt. Colors and fabrics were sent to friend in California and she would pick a block pattern from Quilt Blocks Galore and return to me. I would do the same with fabrics from her. Then I assembled the quilt formyself.

Renee’s quilt top is not only lovely, it shows how even just two friends separated by distance can create a Friendship Quilt thanks to online tools. There are so many sites with patterns. Email and messaging allows for coordination. Fabric and finished blocks can easily be sent in a large envelop via mail. It’s about more than the quilt, it’s about stitching friendship despite the distance.

Thank you, Renee, for sharing your friendship project with us at 24 Blocks. We’ll look forward to seeing it when its quilted and bound!

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