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Why I love American quilts

Why I love American quilts

My love for American quilts started about ten years ago. I remember seeing the most beautiful quilt thrown over an armchair in a summerhouse in the Danish edition of Elle Deco. I went down the quilt rabbit hole online, learning as much as I could about this fantastic craft and its history. I fell in love, started collecting and purchased multiple quilts for my own country house. Just having them piled in a stack gives me happy goose bumps. Fast forward a few years and I’m thrilled to now be selling antique American quilts in our Stockholm shop.


There are extensive historical and cultural references regarding quilting, and I would have to write a whole essay to do this history justice. So I will give my personal short brief of what I know. Quilts have played a significant role in American history and culture for centuries and I’m sure, as with Swedes and our red houses, most Americans have some childhood memory around quilts.  Originally, quilts were made to make full use of leftover scraps of fabric. I’m pretty sure not all women enjoyed quilting or even had the skills, it was rather out of necessity to keep their family warm in the winter months. Still when it came to quilting, this was an opportunity for women to get together. Quilting circles, so called quilting bees, were a common social pastime for women and annual town fairs generally included a quilting prize to award excellence in quilting. Handmade quilts were a very common wedding gift for young couples, and were often mentioned specifically in wills due to their sentimental significance. It was not uncommon for quilts to reflect a mosaic of a woman's life, often including swatches of material from life events such as pieces of a wedding gown or a child's baptismal garment.

Quilting was  also a way for women to express their creativity. The geometric designs were the most efficient way to aggregate the fabric scraps into useful units and these geometric designs have also become personal favorites. Some of the most famous quilting patterns are Irish Chain, Flying Geese, Nine Patch, Log Cabin, Wedding Ring, Fan Quilt and Dresden Plate.

Personally I prefer to use my quilts as blankets or bedspreads. The quilts add so much character to a room and there’s a softness to these old quilts that I love. Not to mention the story behind each of these quilts. Who made it? Where was it made? What life stories surround the quilt? Most of the quilts in our shop are over 100 years old, imagine what they have lived through? Two world wars, the big depression and major historical events and political movements. Sometimes the quilts have a signature and date embroidered and that makes them even more special. I remember one quilt made an impression. It had been made for a baby boy named Henry and from the dates on the quilt I could read the heartbreaking story of this family; Henry died only a few day old. His mother or perhaps grandmother finished the quilt even though they had just lost this little boy.  I am fascinated by history and this is why I love antiques and craftsmanship so much, there is always so much more behind each unique object.

We just received a big batch of antique quilts, each one unique and beautiful. Handstitched and loved. Some minor tears and fainted stains are to expect, especially since they are all over 100 years old. In my opinion, this only adds to the charm and makes the quilts even more special.

I love these quilts so much I even had a coat made for myself out of one of my quilts. Safe to say it’s one of my all time favorite garments. 


p.s. For more quilt inspiration, head to my Pinterest board!