Tom and I spent the day in Ohio’s Amish country yesterday meeting with various craftsmen (some Amish, some “English”) about new products for the market. This is by far one of the most fun and interesting parts of our new business venture: we’ve met some of the nicest people (again, some Amish, some “English”) and learned so much from them about their various crafts.
Anyway yesterday we were very excited to meet an Amish woman named Betty who’ll be working with us to add her beautiful quilts to the products we can offer in our market. Betty was friendly and willing to educate us on what it takes to create these inimitable works of art. And what left the greatest impression on me was the fact that it takes great teamwork to create an Amish quilt.
Betty explained that when a new creation begins, she starts by choosing the pattern, overall color scheme and the specific fabrics which will make up that quilt. She relies on her years of quilting experience as well as her knowledge of sales trends to choose the style and colors that will be created. She then gathers the materials and works with a group of other Amish women to cut and piece the patchwork quilt top. For a bed-size quilt, this can take up to two months.
Once the quilt top is completed, Betty then gathers the materials for the batting and backing, and another group of Amish women takes all of the components to their home and meets regularly to work on quilting the layers into the thick, cushiony sandwich that forms the body of the quilt. Each stitch is made by hand. As someone who is not overly fond of hemming her own trousers, that fact astounds me. I can’t imagine the time, patience and concentration necessary to quilt a wall hanging like the one shown above, let alone for a king size bed. The process of quilting and binding the piece can take the team of women between two and four months.
Overall, it can take four to six months to complete a quilt. It amazes me to think of all the hands that have touched that quilt by the time it reaches completion. Even more, it amazes me to imagine all of the conversations that have floated across its surface while it’s being created. Think of all the problems discussed, the lessons taught, the joys and worries shared across that quilt top, and think of the friendship and teamwork that are stitched into each quilt. It’s no wonder they’re so beautiful, and no wonder they last for lifetimes.