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Quilts and Where to Find Them

piece of a quilt on a sewing table next to a machine

In the US, Quilting has grown to a $4.2 billion industry with an estimated 9-11 million quilters. People who make them can’t make just one, so where do all those quilts go?

We may first remember the quilts on the bed at a family member’s home. They can be passed down through the generations if they are carefully preserved. In the 1860’s, they were made into bedrolls to send their husbands and sons off to war. Sadly many of these quilts and their owners did not make it home, so more were made.

Quilters are generous in giving them to friends and family members for special occasions: to a young couple on their way to setting up housekeeping, for the birth of a new baby, a granddaughter who wants a pink unicorn bedspread, a grandson going off to college. Quilters are generous to local charities such as hospitals, children in need, shelters, Veterans groups and to victims of natural disasters.

A quilter can’t resist new fabric, or the desire to try a new design or technique. Scraps of fabric are left over that can go into another quilt and on it goes. Just within the home, quilts have traveled from the bed, to the back of chairs, made into matching pillows, topped the table or hung on the wall

Quilters who have interest and/ or training in art and design make landscapes and portraits using much more varied substances than traditional cotton and wool. They may incorporate silk, beads, wood, feathers, shells, plants, paint and even leather.

All sizes have been commissioned to be hung in public buildings such as churches, lobbies of hotels, galleries, corporate offices, airports and malls. They have become collectible and hang in museums dedicated to fiber arts or museums that preserve our nation’s history and culture such as the Smithsonian. They are in the hands of private and corporate collectors who recognize their value.

Quilts are found in television and movie scenes to depict comfort and hominess. Several years ago there was a movie called “How to Make an American Quilt.” Quilting has exploded through the internet with sites such as YouTube and many online shops, and quilt instructors utilizing Zoom technology. Many writers have incorporated quilting into their story lines that relate to relationships, struggle, history or even murder.

Even travel showcases quilts. Quilters may combine their love of travel with their love of quilting. Did you know there is a “Quilt Town” in Hamilton Missouri? This is thanks to an industrious family looking for a place to live and work who expanded their family business throughout the town. How about a Quilting Cruise? Land tours also highlight trips through traditional quilting communities. We can follow a self guided tour of Quilt Barn Blocks in the Midwest and many of our local WNC communities.

Quilters also enter the world of competition at local, national and international shows for recognition and cash prizes. These shows are open to the public and can draw thousands of visitors.

Want to see more Quilts? Watch for local Quilt shows put on by local Guilds coming to you.


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