Women and Quilting in the Old West
Daily life in the Old West was brutal at times. A lazy life meant a hungry life, and survival required the entire family to do their part. Women in particular often worked the fields in addition to making soap, spinning thread, sewing clothes, gardening, and cooking family meals. In honor of Women’s History Month, Western Legends celebrates the accomplishments of frontier women.
Women brought a balance in their own unique way to frontier life–showcasing a softer side. Amongst the many activities and duties women participated in, they often gathered together to create quilts, a beautiful combination of practicality and originality. An art.
Quilting was not a new craft. In fact, historians can date the first quilts as far back as Ancient Egypt. During the 12th Century, quilts served many purposes from padding knights wore under their armor to bed coverings.
Quilts Preserve a Heritage
Over time, many cultures have utilized quilts to preserve their heritage. Some well-known types of quilts include the following:
- Amish Quilts
- African American Quilts
- Underground Railroad Quilts
- Memory Quilts
- Baby Quilts
While most of the quilts were created prior to the journey west, women used the mail service to send one another pieces of fabric during the early settlement and taming of the land. Thus, like the pieces sewed together, quilts represented a connection to old friends and a reminder that one can create beauty even in the harshest of conditions.
Practicality of Quilts
Quilts were more than just thick blankets. The people of the Old West used quilts in a variety of ways:
- Window coverings
- Wall hangings
- Room partitionings
- Protective padding for fragile items
- Temporary doors
- A means to document history
- Social support
In time, once barns were raised and log cabin homes established, quilting once again became a social event. Women would gather together, building new friendships, relishing the opportunity to enjoy their beloved art form.
Western Legends Quilt Show
For seventeen years, Western Legends Round-Up has hosted its annual quilt show to pay tribute to the artful legacy bequeathed to us from our pioneer ancestors. During this time, the show has grown to one of the biggest and best quilt shows in Southern Utah. This year’s show is set for August 2017.
People from both the Canyon Country Quilt Guild and Raising Kane Quilt Guild are participating. The show will run for three days. Visitors will be able to see over 150 items, beautifully presented. There will be several forms of quilts:
- Old patterned
- New patterned
- Family heirloom
Organizers, who are avid quilters themselves, are piecing together a special quilt to be raffled off near the end of the event. Proceeds from this raffle will go to support future endeavors for Western Legends Roundup.
For those who are looking for ideas, there will also be opportunities to purchase fabric for your next quilting project from various local vendors.
This is a judged show. So now is the time to gather together like our great women of old, meet often in our sewing circles, and create those lovely quilts. Such is the legacy gifted to us.
This show promises to be as rich in experience as it will be in history. Bring the family, relax and enjoy the heritage handed down to us from our wonderful women of the West.
You won’t want to miss this great, time-honored event.