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History, genetics explain love of quilts

Look at my Facebook walls or the real walls in my home and you can soon conclude I love quilts.

I’m forever posting photos on Facebook from the quilt shows I attend or the projects I’m working on. Quilts can be found in nearly every room of my home, not to mention the large collection of quilt-related books in my sewing room.

I think part of my fascination with quilts might just be genetic. Both my grandmothers were quilters, and my paternal great-great-grandfather, a tailor, made crazy quilts in the late 1800s. And while my mother was not a quilter, she was a fabulous seamstress and taught me to love fabric.

Another part of my fascination with quilts comes from quilt history and the roles quilts play in the lives of women. Denied the right to vote, women in the 1800s would make quilts that reflected political views. If you supported Abraham Lincoln, you might create a quilt using a block called Lincoln’s Platform, for instance. Not all historians agree, but some believe that quilts were used both as maps of and as signs for the underground railroad through which so many enslaved people found freedom.

Post-Civil War, Lutheran women made and sold quilts to finance the first international mission efforts of the North American Lutheran churches. Over the last seven decades, Lutheran women have made relief quilts that bring comfort, warmth and love to those in need all over the world.

I think part of my fascination with quilts might just be genetic. Click To Tweet

When women gather next month in Minneapolis, we’ll have nearly 50 quilts on exhibit, all consisting of black and white fabrics with one color added in, each interpreting the gathering theme, All Anew.

These quilts, 40 inches square, won’t grace a bed or keep someone warm. These are art quilts, designed to inspire and convey a story. With 35 years of quilting experience, I must say these quilts are extraordinary. Many different quilting techniques have been used – from piecing to applique to embellishment – and the results are stunning.

Those attending the gathering will have the opportunity to see the quilts in all their glory. They’ll also get to read each artist’s statement describing her interpretation of the theme. (And for those not attending the gathering, we’re working on other ways for you to see these quilts.)

You don’t have to be a quilter to meditate on our gathering theme. What does All Anew mean to you? You could start your contemplation with five devotions prepared on the gathering theme verses.

Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. The quilt pictured is one of hers.

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