Stitches In Time: Hand Quilting on view through March 1, 2014

The process of quilting can be traced to ancient Egypt and China. The concept is simple: to provide warmth. An inner layer of fabric provides warmth, the outer layers provide stability, and the quilting or stitching through the layers is necessary to prevent the shifting and clumping of the layers. In colder climes, such as England, quilting can be traced to the 11th century with the help of wills and diaries. Settling in the newly founded colonies, the first quilts were undoubtable English in style; however, no examples survive. Records from household inventories, bills of lading, letters and diaries from America’s colonial women indicate that blankets were standard and quilts were a luxury item. Not until the 19th century was the practice of quilting widespread. With the Industrial Revolution, the act of spinning and weaving threads individually became obsolete and purchasing bolts of cloth was commonplace. The development of thousands of patterns allowed quilting to become the American pastime for women as they met in social circles for quilting bees and participated in church quilting groups. It is these few years that hand quilting flourished in America with examples still surviving. Shortly after the Industrial Revolution, the sewing machine became the popular and easy way to quilt while hand quilting became a skill of the past, quickly falling victim to progress.

Stiches in Time: Hand Quilting will display these hand quilting creations as pieces of history and pieces of art. The show will feature historic examples of hand quilting pre-dating the 1950s. In addition, contemporary hand quilted pieces will explore techniques and patterns from this disappearing art. One piece on display will be a “whitework quilt” - considered the epitome of a quilter’s skill as it shows every nuance of stitch and technique.

Stitches in Time: Hand Quilting will be judged by National Quilting Association Inc. certified judge Madeline Hawley. Certified since 1984, Hawley has worked locally, regionally, and nationally, judging over 30 shows throughout the country. With a background in traditional quilting, she has expanded her interest to include innovative and art quilts. In addition, she has published various articles and reviews about quilting and has since published a book. Hawley will be judging our show in various categories including: Best of Show Small and Large, Best of Show Duet and Group, Color and Design.

The exhibition will open on Thursday, January 23 at 6:00 p.m. for our members-only opening reception. In addition, quilt show submitters will be on hand to discuss their quilts and experiences. The exhibition opens to the public on Friday, January 24 and will run through March 1, 2014. 

Stitches in Time: Hand Quilting is sponsored by First Tennessee.