Tag Archives: Virginia

Quilts by Men

During a visit to Civil War sites in Winchester, Virginia, I learned that convalescing Confederate veterans were encouraged to work on quilts.  The wartime headquarters of Stonewall Jackson (1861-62) had such a quilt on the General’s personal bed, made by an amputee.

Traditionally women’s work, quilting was recognized for its therapeutic benefit to wounded soldiers, who were undoubtedly suffering from PTSD, as well as physical injuries.  Artists and crafters know well the meditative zone one enters while immersed in repetitive, creative work.  We forget to eat, we forget to stop working, we forget the world.

Excommunication by Quilt

In 1858, a friendship quilt was made by a group of young Quaker girls in Frederick County, Virginia.  There is a bull’s eye block (square) sewn over one of the original blocks, a lovely tulip design which is clearly visible in an x-ray photo.  This young seamstress was elided from the community, as well as the quilt, after she committed the sin of marrying outside of her faith.

It is notable that the design chosen to blot out her design, which would be a permanent reminder to the quilt’s owner of the painful breach, was a bull’s eye, a rather hostile mark.

The quilt was in the estate of the Hollingsworth family, who left England because of religious intolerance towards Quakers.  Their home, “Abram’s Dream,” was the first house in Winchester, Virginia.  It had a hinged wall in the parlor to permit enlargement of the space for Quaker meetings.