Eighteenth and nineteenth century women were in large part unable to leave a significant lasting record of their lives. They were all too often denied an education, did not have a say in shaping policy or politics, and were discouraged from speaking their minds or contributing ideas, even in their own homes. With the coming of the Civil War, many women found their voice trading paper and pen for needles and fabric.
These women made quilts long before the Civil War ....quilts that not only insured their survival from the elements in practical use, but in their psychological survival as well. In their book, Hearts and Hands: Women, Quilts and the American Society, authors Elaine Hedges, Pat Ferrero and Julie Silber write;
"Throughout the century, women used their quilts and other textile products to help create a new, more public role for themselves. Through their church and missionary work, participation in Civil War relief, and work in such major reform movements as abolition and temperance, women used their sewing and quiltmaking skills to assert their energy in the work outside the home, to claim and secure for themselves more public and political space."
By "Gathering" together in unified causes such as abolition, The Soldiers' Aid Society, The Sanitary Commission, and The Women's Christian Temperance Union, nineteenth century women found a way to be heard. Their efforts in these causes made a remarkable difference not only in their own lives, but in the lives of those they touched, and in shaping policy in their communities and country.
(Detail of center medallion shown here)
They gathered in groups large and small, making quilts showcasing their political statements, and many more as fundraisers for their vehement causes. The medallion style quilt was very popular during this era and lent itself well to a group projects. With these strong, resolute women in mind, I designed this medallion quilt, honoring their kindred spirits, and how they used their humble needles and thread to fight for what they believed in. I invite you to A PRAIRIE GATHERING, to create this medallion quilt for yourself, all the while honoring our quilting ancestors.