The Poetry and Prose of Quilting

The following items were all taken from The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America.

From "The Patchwork Coverlet"
Day after day the pattern grew;
Each block was deftly set in place,
And rows of tiny stitches tell
A tale that time cannot efface.
Of patience, skill, housewifely pride,
Of women's love for pretty thing,
Of fingers trained such work to do
By those who know the joy it btings,
Of time within the home weel spent,
The heart with homely tasks content.

Amy Smith
Glad memories are woven unawares
In blending pieces of each favorite dress!
And so this quilt is eloquent today
With happiness that passes not away.

From the song, "Patchwork"
Grannie sits in her oaken chair
The firelight flits o'er her silvery hair,
the silent children around her sit,
As she pieces her patchwork coverlet;
She tells then her story of London Town,
And shows them the scraps of her bridal gown;
Each fragment tere is a printed page,
With mem'ries written 'twixt youth and age.

Eliza Calvert Hall in "Aunt Jane of Kentucky"
How much piecin' a quilt is like livin' a life! You can give the same kind of pieces to two persons, and one will make a "nine-patch" and one'll make a "wild goose chase, " and there will be two quilts made out of the same kind of pieces, and jest as different as they can be. And that is jest the way with livin'. The Lord sends us the pieces, but we cut them out and put 'em together pretty much to suit ourselves, and there's a heap more in the cuttin' out and the sewin' than there is in the caliker.

Elizabth Ryan DeCoursey
Life is like a patchwork quilt
And each little patch is a day,
Some patches are rosy, happy and bright,
And Some are dark and gray.

But each little patch as it's fitted in
And sewn to keep it together
Amkes a finished blcok in this life of ours
Filled with sun, and with rainy weather.

So let me work on Life's patchwork quilt
Through the rainy days and the sun--
Trusting that when I have finished my block
The master may say: "Well done."

Elizabeth Crawford Yates
Great-Grandma made a "Friendship quilt"
Of scraps of calico.
Her neighbors gave small bits of cloth
From each new gown, and so
Great-Grandma fashioned defty
A quilt of cheerful hues,
And sewed with tiny stitches
The pink, and grays, and blues.

Laura Coates Reed
The sun has such a pretty quilt
Each night he goes to bed,
It's made of lavender and gold,
With great long stripes of red.

And bordered by the softest tints
Of all the shades of gray.
It's put together by the sky,
And quilted by the day.

Sylvia Summers Pierce
With gentle and loving fingers
She caressed the well worn fold;
'Round each piece a mem'ry lingers
like a sweet story often told.

Josephine Day Mickleson
Far and near I sought
Utterance in a thought
A garden blooming, just for you;

So flowers that will not wilt
I stitched into a quilt,
My treasure-trove of memories for you.

Carlie Sexton
I loved the Wreath of Roses, the Rose of Sharon, too--
But Grandmother's favorite was the True Lover's Knot in blue.

Carrie O'Neal
Within our sitting room a table stood,
Made by my father out of cherry wood,
On which thru summer day and winter night
A basket rested full of patches bright;
And from those scraps of variegated shades
My mother planned the many quilts she made,
From muslin and cretonne by some deft spell
Forming the flowers she loved so well;
The crimson tulip and the wild rose, too,
Were fashioned, each in its own shape and hue;
The drooping lily bent its modest head,
The pink carnations' perfume seemed to shed.

Oft from the brass-bound chest her quilts I take,
And from their folds the scented herb leaves shake;
Then on her own great, square four-post bed
The cunning labor of her hands I spread;
With lingering caress I softly touch
The beauty, oddly quaint, she prized so much,
While memory brings back the homely room
Where those bright blocks of flowers flamed in bloom.

Now for long years her patient toil is o'er;
Her quilt hands create her dreams no more;
Beneath a quilt of pinks and lilies too--
The prototypes from which her patterns grew--
She rests in peace. There, while she calmly sleeps, God's mysic coverlet above her creeps.

This be my faith: That some day I shall see
Life's complex pattern growing plain to me;
That somewhere I shall clearly understand
The great design worked by the Master's hand;
And that somehow love's thread may reunite
Our broken lives into a fabric bright,
And i celestial arabesques restore
The ties that bind us here on earth no more.

Douglas Malloch
They do not make them any more,
For quilts are cheaper at the store
Than woman's labor, though a wife
Men think the cheapest thing in life.
But now and then a quilt is spread
Upon quaint old walnut bed,
A crazy quilt of those days
That I am old enough to praise.

Some woman sewed these points and squares
Into a pattern like life's cares.
Here is a velvet that was stong,
The poplin that she wore so long,
A fragment from her daughter's dress,
Like her, a vanished loveliness;
Old patches of such things as these,
Old garments and old memories.

And what is life? A crazy quilt;
Sorrow and joy, and grace and guilt,
With here and there a square of blue
For some old happiness we knew;
And so the hand of time will take
The fragments of our lives and make,
Out of life's remnants, as they fall,
A thing of beauty, after all.

Jean Crosse Hansen
She follows many a devious path,
Interprets many a mood;
Triumphant walks the city's street,
Companions solitude:

Not only in gilt palaces
WE trace her garment's hem;
Earth's lowliest ones may call to her
And she will come to them,

In cloud or wave, or song of bird,
In flower, prairie, tree;
In any spot, through any task
Done with sincerity, --

A furrow straight across a field,
A rose-tree by the door;
A blossomy quilt upon a bed,
Quaint rugs upon a floor!

Samples culled from the QUiltnet &rec.crafts.quilting

Date: Thu, 21 Jul 1994 22:46:26
From: Terry

My love of sewing and background and training in art led me to quilting, but unlike other media I used, I have never moved on. Quilting satisfies me. Old quilts speak to me of what "womens' work" has ever been--providing warmth and comfort, while expressing sometimes otherwise unnoticed depths of creativity and love of beauty in everyday things. Like architecture, quilts are art that surrounds us and enriches our families lives and our culture as a whole. I love the feel and smell of fabric. I love the vast choices of color and design. I love the feeling of a sharp blade slicing cleanly through cloth and the soothing rhythm of hand sewing. I love the company of women sewing and visiting and the solitude of listening to music while I quilt alone. Hanging on my sewing room wall is this quote from AUNT JANE OF KENTUCKY by Eliza Calvert Hall:
"I've been a hard worker all my life, but 'most all my work has been the kind that 'perishes with the usin',' as the Bible says. That's the discouragin' thing about a woman's work. If a woman was to see all the dishes that she had to wash before she died piled up before her in one pile, she'd lie down and die right then and there. I've always had the name o' bein' a good housekeeper, but when I'm dead and gone there ain't anybody goin' to think o' the floors I've swept, and the tables I've scrubbed, and the old clothes I've patched, and the stockin's I've darned, but when one of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren sees one o' these quilts, they'll think about Aunt Jane, and, wherever I am then, I'll know I ain't forgotten."