PIECED QUILTS AND COMFORTERS IN THE KENT STATE UNIVERSITY MUSEUM COLLECTION
Stager Gallery | Jean L. Druesedow, Director
Perhaps nothing symbolizes the artistry, industry and affectionate nature of women as much as the quilts and comforters they make for their families and friends. Over centuries, through effort and fine needlework, women have given expression to their aesthetic sensibilities. Needlework is a means of socializing and contributing to a sense of community and provides opportunities for women to work together, help each other and share in the joy of a completed project. The quilts in this exhibition all were made around the middle of the 19th century and, unlike the comforters, were made more for show than for warmth since they either have no batting or a very thin layer. Without batting it is possible to make very fine stitches, and in these quilts there are about ten stitches to the inch. The fabric for these special quilts probably was purchased especially for the project. Such a quilt might be taken out of the linen closet and used for special occasions. Each was carefully preserved to be passed down through the generations. Comforters, on the other hand, were made for warmth with a heavy batting held in place by tufting stitches. They were intended to be utilitarian and were an economical means of using up the less worn pieces of old woolen clothing or dressmaking scraps. These two comforters were made toward the end of the 19th century, after the fad for crazy quilts had peaked, but both show the influence of that style. The small size indicates that they might have been intended for children's beds or perhaps for use as lap robes.Making quilts and comforters continues to be a favored pastime for women. Now many use computerized sewing machines to achieve complex stitching patterns, but today's quilters remain awed by the skilled hand-done needlework of the past.