When I made my selection for the AQSG Quilt Study of Civil War-era quilts, I felt that this particular piece represented that time period for me. One can only imagine the turmoil in the country and among families during the 1860s. This quilt suggested that to me, with its dark colors and simple pattern. Despite that, the unknown quilter’s work has lighter areas with color and movement within the design. Her quilt reflects a sophisticated simplicity. Perhaps as the quilter was piecing it during the actual war years she was hoping for the conclusion to the conflict that so divided our country. Was she longing for a husband, son, father, or brother who was fighting in the war? One wonders whether this quilt was made early in the maker’s years of quilt construction or later. Did she previously appliqué flowers in brighter or lighter colors? Would she continue making quilts that were pieced with more subdued colors after the war years?
When I made my quilt, I thought of all of the events and ideas that were swirling around and threatening to break our new democracy. Some of my blocks extend into the borders to represent the fissure in our country.
My inspiration quilt is catalogued by the International Quilt Study Center as circa 1865. It was hand pieced, the quilting stitches are 6 to 7 per inch, and there is no inscription. As we celebrate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the quilt represents a metaphor for our country. This quilt still exists after all of these years just as the United States survived the conflict.