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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Quilts and Quiltmaking in America

[Detail] 1994 Judges' Choice Winner; Susan's Fan.

4) Women

Nearly all of the quilters represented in this collection are women. In their explanations of why they quilt, they reveal much about women's lifestyles and how they have changed with time. Ask students to investigate this topic of why women quilted. They can use the questions below to analyze the similarities and differences among their motivations and draw their own conclusions about women's lifestyles.

 "I never had time for fooling."

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 "I didn't think about them being that pretty."

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I started this quilt when my son was sent to Iraq -- during deployment for the Gulf War. As events developed and grew more dangerous, I worked longer hours, added more hand quilting, made the stitches tinier and tinier . . . I gave it to him for a wedding present and told him how and when it came to be made (I think I would have gone mad had I not had my quilting to keep me straight). It has always been relaxing. This time it was my salvation. My son never knew at the time just how worried I was and it was a chance (my giving him the quilt) for us both to let go of those feelings.   -- 1992 Montana State Winner

I quilt and teach quilting as my job. Contests make students aware of your work. I enter them often as advertisement of classes.   -- 1994 Illinois State Winner

  • What are some of the reasons that these women quilted?
  • What do these reasons suggest about what women value?
  • What do they suggest about women's activities and roles in families and society?
  • What do they suggest about women's personal lives, professional lives, creative lives, families, communities, modes of expression?
  • How are the motivations of the Blue Ridge quilters and the Lands' End quilters different? How are they the same?
  • What does this suggest about how women's lives and perceptions of women have changed with time?
  • What do the quilts themselves suggest about these aspects of women's lives and how they have changed with time?