Friday, September 4, 2009

The Beginnings of Quilting, Part IX

When a young man entered into a marriage, he hopefully did not go in without a freedom quilt! Freedom quilts were made by the girls a young man was acquainted with, upon the celebration of his twenty-first birthday. Once married, this quilt was added to his bride's dower chest. This type of quilt was put together much like a friendship quilt.

We have to remember that long ago, entertainment and celebrations were limited: Probably due to being so rural (distance-wise), the difficulties of planning a "party" while getting everyday chores done, etc. These events usually lasted all day and evening; perhaps to give the horses time to rest or to make the entertainment worth the time it took for all of the preparations (including the travel time!). It may have even appeared inhospitable to invite guests for just a short period of time.

So, why is it called a "freedom" quilt? Up until his twenty-first birthday, a young man was completely under his parent's thumb. The parents had all authority; even to the point that they could dictate to him where to work, when to work, or what to do with any wages he might earn (even give it all to them for upkeep!). So, when he turned 21, it was very special. He became his own boss, you might say! He had his freedom, legally.

This may seem a strange tradition today, but a freedom quilt was expected to be added to a bride's dower chest. The lack of one might have appeared to show that her groom had uncaring, or no, friends!

Today, freedom quilts have entirely different meanings. One of the most recent is to honor soldiers that have lost their lives fighting terrorism since 09/11/01. This organization was founded by Betty Neilson from Fonda, IA. To show my respect for the events of 09/11/01, I designed a paper-piece pattern of a flag, shown at the top.

Freedom quilts (teacher's resource!) were also used as secret maps used by slaves in what is currently the USA to escape slavery. Each block signified a special meaning. Freedom quilts also have numerous other meanings that can be researched (keywords: Freedom + Quilts) on the Internet (Please use Quilting Passion Organization as the charity!)., as well as numerous other resources, also has many books based upon freedom quilts.

Hopefully, this section of the article has been informative and comments to this article are definitely appreciated!

This also concludes this entire journey on the early history of types of quilts. A secondary article will be published this coming week (09/06/09), if not sooner!


  1. A lot of interesting information in all of your articles.

    This must have taken a long time to put it all together.


  2. Not too long! I tried to keep it as short as I could (and the entire thing still ended up long!) and had to really NOT say a lot. I so love to write.


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