Quilting in History

Our fingers are crossed that winter is behind us for 2017. In the months to come we’ll enjoy the warmth of the sun, but for generations families have been warmed by quilts that were the works of settlers’ hands and hearts. Quilts play a significant part of Canadian history.

In the 1700s, the American United Empire Loyalists who made Canada their home brought quiliting techniques and patterns. This led to a surge in the popularity of quilting as an art, as well as practical use as blankets that protected the family from the harshness of Canadian winters.

During the pioneer era, thrifty families would alter clothes worn by the adults so that they could be recycled for young children. Whenever fabric was cut or discarded, scraps would be tossed into the quilting basket. These would later be cut into squares or rectangles, lined with layers of feathers or wool and sewn in distinct patterns. Today, quilting is known as a creative and artistic hobby, but back in the 1800s it was a necessity of life.

The earliest Alberta-made quilt located was made from felt pieces traded at Fort Edmonton, circa. 1870. During this era quilts were made from men's silk ties, grandma's wedding petticoats, and an assortment of other odd scraps such as silk cigar bands, prize ribbons, labels, and badges. The Galt houses a collection that includes some quilts made by Albertan women and girls. They illustrate the history of and settlement and home life. They are a product of the frugality, inventiveness and creativity that built the province.

Join us at the Galt Museum & Archives for the Café Galt lecture “From Inspiration to Art Quilt” by Elaine Quehl on Friday April 28 from 2–3 pm. Quehl is a Canadian quilt artist, teacher, designer and fabric dyer. Elaine will share insights about her evolution from traditional quilter to art quilter, and will show a display of selected pieces. Admission fees apply and includes exhibit access. Registration not required.