Americana: Amish Quilts

Without electricity and central heating, the Amish turned to making quilts out of necessity. It's become a home business for women to supplement the family's income. Uploaded by

Doesn’t it strike you as somewhat contradictory that Amish women, often called “plain people,” make such beautiful, colorful, even elaborate quilts? Since they don’t permit the use of electricity, their homes aren’t centrally heated. Quilts are an understandable necessity, and once were as colorless as their owners.

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Now they’re not just made for their families and friends, but have become a way for Amish women to supplement the family’s income. As you ride around Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Great American Things, June 26, 2009) and other Amish towns, you’ll see signs like “Quilts sold here. No Sunday sales.”

Turns out the logic for the quilts is that fabric scraps were saved and incorporated into the quilts, so nothing was wasted. That jibed with Amish sensibilities. They became popular within the community as a way the women could display their creativity. And often women met together to quilt after the day’s work was done, making the quilting experience a primary social gathering.


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