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Quilts: More than just for warmth

Selina Iglesias

Greene Publishing, Inc.

Throughout history, quilts have provided us with relaxation, warmth, memories and even storytelling. The patches on a quilt can tell a unique story about an event, family history and much, much more.

The origins of quilting remain unknown, but historians do know that quilting was used for clothing and furnishings in diverse parts of the world in early times. The earliest known quilted garment is on the carved ivory figure of a Pharaoh of the Egyptian First Dynasty, about 3400 B.C. In 1924 archaeologists discovered a quilted floor covering in Mongolia. They estimated that it dates from somewhere between the first century B.C. to the second century A.D. There are also numerous references to quilts in literature and also inventories of estates.

Crusaders brought quilting to Europe from the Middle East in the late 11th century. Quilted garments were popular in the Middle Ages. Knights wore them under their armor for comfort. They also used quilted garments to protect the metal armor from the elements (rain, snow, or sun).

The earliest known surviving bed quilt is one from Sicily from the end of the 14th century. It is made of linen and padded with wool.

When the English and Dutch settlers arrived in North America, quilting took on a whole new life. From then on, quilting became popular throughout each era of history, not only being used just for warmth, but for mementos. Although quilting was not as popular from the 1940s to the 1970s, it made its comeback in 1976 and has again become popular.

Today, quilts have become even more detailed and beautiful, with a variety of different techniques, styles, colors and themes.

Want to take a look back at all of the quilts that were made throughout  history in Florida? Maybe you'll find a quilt made by an old family friend or an ancestor.

The Florida Museum of History has a collection dedicated to showing off the quilts from Florida's territorial period to present. It includes 66 pieces that represent a wide variety of designs and techniques. In addition, the Florida Museum of History also maintains over 5,000 files of quilts registered by the Florida Quilt Heritage Project.

In fact, there is a featured quilt within this collection that originates in Madison. The quilt, which is composed of brown printed fabrics in a mosaic pattern, was possibly made by a member of the Inglis family, in Madison. It is cotton and hand-pieced and represents a grandmother's garden, hence the  name “Grandmother's Flower Garden.” It is estimated that this quilt was created some time from 1890-1910.

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