An Amish Quilters Story

Amish Girl

Just imagine it, you love to sew, just like an author loves, and needs to write. You are taught from when you were small that working with your hands is a good thing, and you learn how to sew and quilt. You can create colorful and beautiful works of art with your own sewing machine, even if it is run by a treadle and not electricity. So, after years of tutelage from your mother, aunts and grandmother, you create your first quilt. Now, fifty years of quilting experience has passed, and you dream in patterns and vivid colors. The Amish quilt you see on this website is just being born.

So, our Amish quilter asks the driver to take her to the dry goods store (it is too far to go by horse and buggy), and once she gets there, she is lost in a sea of swirling colored fabrics. Her pallet is chosen, and she travels home to start cutting out the hundreds of small shapes which will mosaic into a quilt.

Her home used to be larger, but now she and her husband live in the smaller "dawdy" house, so working with up to 15 yards of fabric to piece the top, can be a massive undertaking... but her table is clear, and she sets to work.

The quilt pieces are cut and sorted, pinned and stitched and ironed and stitched again into a rectangle measuring approximately 8 1/2 x 9 feet. Tracing quilting patterns on the fabric with pencil or chalk becomes the job now, and this is done on the floor, with the quilt completely spread out, so the entire quilting flow can be drawn. Next, the quilt backing is laid out, the batting is placed on top of it, and on top of it all, is placed the ironed patchwork or quilt applique piece she has been developing and creating for the past month or so. On her hands and knees, she carefully bastes (sews with very large stitching) the three layers together, starting from the center and working out to the edges. Now she must ask her husband for help.

He comes in and awkwardly holds the other end of the large rectangled quilt, as she carefully attaches one end into the quilting frame. Slowly they turn the pole until they can attach the other side, and then the quilt is drawn tight until it is stable enough to begin to stitch on. It is time to quilt.

The quilting frame has been set up near the window where good light can shine thru, but with no direct sunlight to glare into the eyes. Those 50 - 60 years of experience now come into play, as small tracks of quilting stitches make their running trails throughout the surface of your quilt. Every stitch is an in-and-out rock of her needle, using her left hand under the quilt to prod the needle back to the surface, completing a stitch. The Amish Quilts that are in our shop have approximately 7 stitches of quilting per inch, and that means 70 in-and-out prodding of the needle for a 10 inch line of quilting (most of our quilts have about 85,000 hand quilted stitches in them - some have over 100,000!!).

Months of tracings with quilting thread go by, and at last, it is time to release the quilt from the frame and put on the quilt binding.

Binding has already been measured and cut and ironed, so now all that is left is for it to be sewn on. The first time around the circumference it is machine sewn on, then the second time around, it is hand sewn over the raw edges of the quilt.

Your quilt is completed, and it only took the quilter between 3-7 months!

This whole story was written so you can cherish the small things that really do show that a quilt was handmade. These quilts are masterpieces, created by women quilters who have been sewing and quilting for decades. Their experience and joy of creating beauty are evident in every aspect of this one-of-a-kind, handquilted quilt.