The Amish are a community of traditional Christian people that is a subgroup under the Mennonite church. Amish people are known for their simplicity; they choose to live a simple life that is without distraction. As such, they clothe themselves simply while steering clear of modern technology. As a part of their religion, they avoid “worldly” things. The Amish originally migrated to Pennsylvania from Switzerland in the 18th century and then spread out to many other states.
Photo via Ann Garell Davis
Amish women are known for their incredible quilts. They have been sewing them by hand since the 1800s. These works of art reflect their way of life. Traditional Amish quilts are very distinct. They were made with only solid colors, and they only use colors that their religious leaders have allowed. These quilts were made for home use, layered on furniture and beds so that they could be used daily. Oftentimes Amish women would gather together for quilt bees to work together as a group. This would provide a time of socialization during which they would also work together in order to complete quilts quickly.
What makes Amish quilts so extraordinary? In general, the craftsmanship is parallel to none other. The women are diligent in their quilting, and they have mastered the skills. While the level of complexity in the quilt tops varies from simple to advanced, the piecework is always top notch. The hand quilting tends to be highly detailed and is very precise. Many quilters, quilt collectors, and museums consider Amish quilts to be highly prized pieces of art.
As the years went by, some Amish women chose to sell their quilts, as this is a way for the women to contribute to their household income. To show the public that there are available quilts, the women put a simple sign in front of their house declaring “Quilts for sale” or “Quilts sold here.” If there are certain days of the week that they are not selling, such as Sundays (church gathering day) or Thursdays (wedding days), then this is also stated here. Some Amish women provide their hand quilting skills to the public for a fee. Denyse Schmidt, the immensely popular quilter and designer, utilizes the hand quilting skills of Amish women in Minnesota. She offers a line of made-to-order couture quilts that are designed by her and hand quilted by Amish women. For more information on these quilts, please visit her website.
Are you interested in purchasing your own Amish quilt? There are several ways to get your hands on them, such as auctions and estate sale, but I think that the best option is to go straight to the source. Large Amish communities, such as the one in Lancaster, PA, have plenty of goods available to the public. If you are visiting the area, there are many Amish that sell their goods, including quilts, from their homes or through local stores or warehouses. If you do not have the ability to visit one of these locations in person, many of the stores from those areas sell their Amish goods online. Through careful internet searches, you will be able to locate stores that sell Amish quilts.
What do you like about Amish quilts? Do you own one? Please share your experience! Also, if you are fond of traditional quilts, be sure to check out Traditional Blocks Made Easy by Anita Grossman Solomon.