Mini Blog: Quilting in Tennessee

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Hello, everyone! I've been quite busy with the Quilt Show, so this week's blog post will be a combination of the blog I was supposed to write and this week's upcoming post. On the first Monday, I usually write up something related to the museum and museum events. On the second Monday, I usually write up a local history piece. This week, I'm combining them. So let's take a quick look at Quilting in Tennessee! 

Quilting History

Quilts were introduced in America when colonists arrived from Europe (though Europeans were not the inventors of the quilt - it has been found in many different cultures all over the Old World). Wholecloth quilts gave way to the rising popularity of patchwork quilts. Patchwork quilts are considered quintessentially American and is usually what is pictured when one thinks of a quilt. 

Major events became reflected in quilting, as evidenced by the increasingly popularity of scrap quilts in Tennessee during the Civil War. Women would often work together to create quilts for soldiers of the army they supported. Myra Inman of Cleveland, TN mentions Federal soldiers taking a quilt off her slave's bed as they moved through the area. 

Regional Differences

Before regions became more cohesive and mixed (due to inventions like the car, the printing press, the dissemination of national newspapers and magazines, etc.), there were more significant regional differences in quilts. Even across the state of Tennessee, one could see different trends. In East Tennessee, quilters favored appliqué, lighter tones, and more white fabrics incorporated into quilts. In Middle Tennessee, darker, more somber tones were used. And in West Tennessee, they preferred strong colors and used a variety of prints and solids. This does not hold true today as quilting patterns can be had from anywhere on the globe. 


To learn more about Quilting in Tennessee, stop by our exhibit: A Patchwork of American History, sponsored by the First Tennessee Foundation.