New Nation Crafts: Quilting, Felting and Embroidery

My daughter quilted, felted and embroidered like the Americans of the mid to late 1800's.

Although quilting, felting and embroidery were known in Early American times, they were not the handicrafts which kept most women busy. Opposite to popular belief, most Early American women were kept busy sewing, spinning and knitting as these handicrafts were more essential to their survival. It was only the wealthiest of early Americans who could afford to spend time quilting, embroidering and felting. However, by the mid to late 1800's industrial producers of cloth changed the availability of materials. It was during these later times when American quilting gained popularity.

Since we are a family who loves fiber and fabric based handicrafts, my daughter did all three.


Once industrial produced fabric became available in America, the popularity of quilting increased. Contrary to popular belief, most quilts were created from new fabric. Patchwork is actually the word for cutting out and piecing together different fabrics. Quilting refers to the decorative stitching which holds the patchwork together. Regardless, my daughter spent time working on the quilting/patchwork process.

First she created a design and used a protractor to help her create the pieces for her design.

Next she cut out pieces of fabric.

Then she stitched them together.

Finally she ironed the seams of the stitched pieces. Currently, she is no where near completing the quilt she designed as she is a child who much prefers short-term projects. I'm not sure if she will ever finish this project, but am happy she has a good understanding for the effort involved.


There are several different methods for felting. Fibers from sheep and other animals will shrink and cling together after agitation. This can be accomplished with long sharp needles, or with soap and water. Many of us have accidentally felted wool sweaters in the washing machine and are surprised how dramatically small large sweaters can become. My daughter chose to create a purse by first knitting yarn with very large needles and then shrinking the knitted purse down to size.

 Following a pattern from the book Pursenality Plus, she created her purse.

 Next she squeezed warm soap and water through the purse for several hours until it shrank down to size.

Finally she stuffed her purse with treasures and carries it around town.


Today machines are used to make dynamic embroidery designs like this hedgehog created on my mother's machine. After the 30 minutes or so required to line up the design, program the machine, and place the fabric into a hoop with proper stabilizing papers above and below, the machine only takes about 30 minutes to whip out a finished product.

In the past simple embroidery designs took much longer. My daughter spent about 10 hours working on her embroidery sign for her room.

Like hand knitting a sweater, creating a full sampler must have taken weeks to months. Maybe I should invest in a knitting machine?

To see more American History lessons for kids please visit our archives on our History Page.

For more great educational activities check out these blog hops.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...