Heritage Music

Quilting Bee – Then And Now

Back in the day-quilts were a necessity of life-actually they still are to a degree. Quilts offer warmth for our bodies-a way to protect ourselves from the cold. Yet, when you look back to the days of living in an uninsulated house with only a fireplace or cookstove to supply heat, you realize what an important role quilts played in the days of old.

The ability to quilt stretched across all social classes-you needed warmth from the cold whether you were well to do or poor as a church mouse. Even during the time period where quilting was a mandatory skill for women-it seemed they found true enjoyment in the process. Quilting offered a moment to rest your tired feet. Another pleasure that developed around quilting-was the quilting bee. Ladies would gather to quilt-and get to visit with one another too.

Quilting Bees sometimes included:

  • every woman bringing a quilt square
  • swapping quilt patterns
  • singing
  • talking
  • the old teaching the young
  • eating a meal together
  • and maybe-most importantly-a time to gossip

In the early to mid 1900s the manufacturing industry began to use machines to mass produce quilts. This lessened the need for quilting. Thankfully there were women who retained the knowledge and artistry of quilting. Women who continued to be part of sewing circles-women who made quilts for charities, for young folks in the community, for newlyweds, as well as for their families.

As I developed my business plan for the Blind Pig & The Acorn-I was struck by the irony of documenting Appalachian Heritage with cutting edge technology-a blog. I see the same phenomenon taking place in the quilting world.

There are still quilting circles in communities across the country-you can read about a few at Lisa’s place. Quilters I’ve met through blogland have taken the quilting bee to a new level-a technologically savvy level. DanaAmyChristina, and Patti all come to mind, they each post about making quilt squares-not to keep-but to pass along to a member of their quilting circle. But they aren’t taking the square to a local quilting bee or club-they are sending it to someone they’ve met over the Internet. It’s like a virtual quilting bee. These ladies-along with many many others are continuing the great heritage of quilting-continuing to create beauty and warmth for their family and friends. Pretty cool uh?

For this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot-a song about a Quilting Bee- Aunt Dinahs Quilting Party.

Hope you enjoyed the toe tapping song! Makes me want to go to a Quilting Bee-how about you?


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  • Reply
    February 10, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I don’t remember quilting bees, but I remember seeing a quilting frame at my grandma’s house. She quilted and so did her daughters. I’m not very good at it, but I like to quilt. I think they are a beautiful piece of art.

  • Reply
    February 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    I love quilting! I’ve made a few small throws and one California King-sized log cabin variation. I felt very close to the Amish ladies of yesteryear as I pieced the scraps of fabric from my grandparents’ house. It made me smile and cry with each stitch.
    Beautiful post as usual!

  • Reply
    Carolyn A.
    February 10, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Pap and Paul always get my toes to tapping when they play. I enjoy their music so much.
    I’ve never had nor made a quilt, but was thinking on trying to make my sister one for Christmas. She lives in WV and I found some flamingo squares. She loves the ones she put in her garden so I thought she’d like a quilt of them. Wish me luck. xxoo

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Mom quilts and Grandma did too. I can place the quilt on the frame, stretch it and stitch it, but have no idea how to finish it. I’m not a sewer, at least not with a sewing machine. I suppose I could finish the edges by hand and really should ask Mom to show me how to do that.
    Enjoyed your post. Have a great week.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Great post Tipper! The quilts I remember are not the elaborate kind that you see selling for top dollar…just plain ol’ useful and warm, piled on the bed so thick you could not move!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog while I was away!
    Have a wonderful day!

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Wooooo! I have been absent too long. I had to catch up on your blog. I loved every minute of it. Thank you for the shout out also!
    The past couple of weeks have been full of quilting bee reunions for me and it has been wonderful. It is really amazing how the blog world has impacted my “quilting life”. I have gained so many new friends world wide. Quilting remains a common thread that binds us all together.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    February 9, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I participated in one quilting bee in the 70’s. It was a lot of fun–we made a baby quilt for a frind. Each person contributed a square and we all quilted it. I had a frame, which I ended up giving to one of the women in the group whho later became an award-winning quilter. Funny how things end up with the person who should have them.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 9:29 am

    I enjoyed the song very much! Thank you!

  • Reply
    noble pig
    February 9, 2009 at 1:10 am

    I love a good quilt and the ones from the good old days, passed down from generatons are the best.

  • Reply
    February 8, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I would love to be part of a quilting bee! Just loved your words on this and the music as well! blessings,Kathleen

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    February 8, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Morning Tipper! Fascinating, how technology has merged with the traditional! To me, “quilt” bears
    images of exactly what you’ve mentioned and the love wrapped around me. Lovely!

  • Reply
    February 7, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I always love the music on your blog. I only have a couple of quilts that were pieced by my grandmother, but I use them all the time.

  • Reply
    Brenda S. 'Okie in Colorado'
    February 7, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    You just keep my memories fresh with your posts! As a little girl, raised by my Granny until I was 11, I attended many quilting bees with that precious precious lady. I now wrap myself in hers and my Moms beautiful quilts. They are both gone now and there is nothing better than sleeping under their special quilts.
    Thank you Tipper,

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    February 7, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Love the song…I think I first heard Nothin’ Fancy sing it and I’ve liked it every since.
    A former sister-in-law and I attempted to piece a quilt top many years ago. We are still on close terms, and when we get together we remind each other, through gales of laughter, our one and only attempt at quilting. We were hopeless.
    When my only sibling passed away just a few short years ago, we placed a family quilt on his casket (with flowers/the casket spray on top of the quilt) while we received friends. I know several eyebrowns in our little town were raised when we did that, but we did it anyway and I don’t regret it. And I have learned that little mother has told her only great-granddaughter that she wants the same quilt on her casket when her time comes. She won’t tell me because she knows I don’t like to think about her passing away. But I will honor her request.

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    February 7, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Tipper, I just wanted to thank you for you inspiring me to remember some pretty special times. I’ve got an award over at my place for you. Come on by.
    Thanks again,

  • Reply
    February 7, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    My mom is a lone quilter. I think she’d be Bee material if onlyt there were one around here.
    I am thinking of the AIDS quilt of the 1980s, how it traveled and connected people, living and passed, in so many ways. Really spoke to the heart of the art.

  • Reply
    February 7, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Some of my most valued possessions–my grandmother made them.

  • Reply
    fishing guy
    February 7, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Tipper: Pap and Paul did a great job on the sing, my toe wa s a tapping.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    February 7, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Beautiful! I’ve never been to a quilting bee, but would love it, I know. I think the internet quilting phenom is so awesome.

  • Reply
    Helen G.
    February 7, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I don’t think anything quite says love like wrapping up in a quilt that someone has made for you. My mom sewed a lot, you do that when you have six kids to dress, but didn’t do any quilting to speak of except she did go to the church and quilted with the ladies there when she had a chance after we got older. She didn’t make quilts for us, but we had them that she and daddy bought and some from aunts and sisters. One of the things I’d like to try my hand is quilting, and I haven’t given up on doing that yet. One of these days.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 7, 2009 at 9:51 am

    Wow, this post makes me think of my grand mother. She made beautiful quilt tops and gave them to everyone in the family. Some of her quilts were the traditional patch work one. There were lots of different patterns. I remember a few of the pattern names like Wedding Ring, Blue Bird, and Dutch girl. Then she also made some that were embroidered. These had a different embroidered picture on each square, some had birds, some had states, and some had flowers. My grandmother loved flowers.
    She did gardening and preserving in the summer and sewing/quilting in the winter.
    They went to bed when it got dark and got up when the sun came up–or earlier!
    It was a different life, it was a hard life. There were cows to milk morning and evening, pigs to slop, and chickens to feed no matter what the weather.
    My grandmother did all these chores as long as my granddaddy worked in the mill. When he retired she turned the milk bucket over to him and he did the milking from then on. I always thought that was kind of funny.
    Your posts are always so full of memories for me. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    February 7, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Quilting is one skill I have never learned. It’s on my list though! I have done some machine quilting, but that’s just not the same. I want to learn the real thing.

  • Reply
    February 7, 2009 at 7:19 am

    When I was 12, my mother joined a quilting club that met every Thursday morning in the upstairs of a big old general store/post office about half a mile down the road from us. It was one of her few social outlets and she enjoyed it immensely. She always took a bag lunch and when she came home, her face was always flushed with the happiness of conviviality and helping create something beautiful and useful.
    When I was a young mother, Mom would ask me every few weeks or so if I would like to go to “quilting” with her. I always had some excuse about being busy, who would watch the kids, etc. I regret so much that I never joined the quilting club with her. She passed away when I was 34 and I never did learn to quilt.

  • Reply
    Amy @ parkcitygirl
    February 7, 2009 at 1:40 am

    Love this post and song! Thanks for sharing Tipper – your posts are so full of heritage and warmth 🙂

  • Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks for the shout out. I got two hours of quilting in tonight. Unfortunatly I was quilting all by myself.
    Another great post you have up.
    Have a great weekend.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    One of my favorite songs they sing. My toes are tapping as I type.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I did enjoy that toe tapping song. And caught my toe tapping along, too. I haven’t heard that song in years. And yes, I’d like to go to a quilting bee, never been to one. But only if you promise to sing that song while “we’re” there!(I’ll sing with ya, if I have to)

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    February 6, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    I love quilts, enjoyed your post, photos and enjoyed the music.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Tipper my mom has always made quilts and not machine quilted, but hand quilted. Takes hours but they are so beautiful. I wish I had the time and seeing your post today makes me yearn for the days when women still did this together.

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