Art Friday: Quilting Bees


Quilting Bees

"The quilting bee was an extremely popular social event in the midnineteenth century. The quilting bee provided a social space for women to gather and gossip while they simultaneously expressed their artistic capabilities. The quilting bee was often times held in a grange hall or a church vestry room which allowed for a maximum number of 12 women to attend. Often times, the number of guests was limited to seven, who, with the hostess, made up two quilting frames, the equivalent of two tables of bridge. Good quilting in earlier times was a social requisite, and it behooved the ambitious woman to be an expert with her needle." (source

Quilting bees was one of the ways women got together and built strong communities and forges lasting bonds between each other. Women of the past were out far more than we imagine. We like to think they were at home all day long, but just like modern women, they too got cabin fever and needed the interaction of other women.  It was important to them and it is important still.

Quilting remains popular today and women still gather in groups to quilt. Many women quilt, not for themselves but to make gifts for friends and family. Many  women make quilts for others and rarely for themselves. Quilting brings women together to talk and catch up what is going on in the lives of other women — this is still important as it was in the past. Women need the friendship of other women and we should never shut ourselves off from others for too long, even if it means spending time with friends instead of doing the dusting. 

The Quilting Bee, 19th Century Americana by Morgan Weistling


Edgar Melville Ward (American painter, 1839–1915) Quilting Party




I found these old photos on Pinterest that are a delight to look at.

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Comments

  1. You can almost hear the chit-chat going on, while sewing.
    Never been to a Quilting Bee, but oh, the fun it must of been.

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  2. Great post. I'm a quilter so I appreciated this. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. The comfort and encouragement the women must have got when attending these groups would be been invaluable :) happy quilting.

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  3. Oh, how I wish I could find an old timey quilting bee like those! I enjoyed the pic's.

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  4. Loved the paintings and the sentiments Jo! We only have one car so I don't get out much. But every Sunday there is church and usually fellowship lunch at a friends' house (or ours). It is really important. I think that is another nice reason to have a blog as you get to visit with other like-minded ladies without needing to leave home... Thank you for sharing with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth! :)

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    1. I think the internet and blogs have opened many doors for women who are at home and not able to get out much - we all need interactions, women in particular - I think this is why quilting bees survived for so long - women needing the company of other like-minded women :) have a wonderful weekend.

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  5. The gossip was/is a bad aspect of these kinds of gatherings, however without gossip, a quilting bee would be a wonderful way to spend time together with other women - not being idle, but keeping busy while having wonderful companionship. :) My daughter and I get together and hand quilt sometimes (or we used to - we haven't done it for a little while). It's a wonderful way to pass time, and I love hand-stitching. In fact, I'm hand-stitching a hem while I read your blog!!!

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    1. It would be interesting to know how much these women gossiped in a bad sort of way or shared and supported each other. My mother belonged to a craft group at the local town and they didn't gossip but spent more time sharing stories of their children and what they had been up to at home, in the garden etc..

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    2. That would be beneficial as you could learn from each other as well. It's the nasty gossip that can destroy that I would be concerned about.

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    3. I agree - I am sure women of the past were just as bad at gossiping as modern women :( I know in my mothers group the women were very encouraging and would help each other if one had a problem - or mum would tell dad that Mrs X needed a hand (if she was a widow) and he would offer to lend a hand.

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