Posts Tagged ‘quilts’

Written by:
Wendi Friend


About eight years ago, give or take a few months, I received my first quilt. My father, long-since divorced from my mother, was married to a woman who had no children of her own. During two brief visits to my father’s house, I met and bonded with his wife. Shortly after those visits, I became ill with cancer. Two years I endured several surgical efforts to tame the beast, and countless invasive procedures. Eventually, a hysterectomy was in order. Just before I went into the hospital for my partial hysterectomy, I received a box from my step-mother. In it, a quilt her mother had made. Her mother had since passed away and my step-mother had no daughter of her own to hand the quilt down to. To my great honor, she sent the quilt to me at a pivotal time in my life.

Since the day I received it, I’ve slept with that quilt every single night. It has moved with me more than half a dozen times over the years. I take it on vacations. I wrap myself in it when I write. I snuggle in it when I watch television. Worn to the point of ragged tears and snags, the quilt my step-mother handed down to me has been a constant companion, a cloak of protection, and a key to inspiration, tradition, nostalgia, heritage, and magick.

Making a quilt of my own has always been an interest, but a light-hearted “one of these days” kind of interest that didn’t provoke action. I daydreamed, that’s all. Over the years, the daydreams converted to night dreams and I began seeing quilts in my dreams as I slept. I felt drawn to quilts in antique shops and knew that the quilts were speaking to me.

Earlier this year, during the summer, I mentioned to a friend who enjoys crafting that I’d like to make a quilt of my own. I remember supporting this same friend during the making of her own first quilt, a patriotic flag following the events of September 11th. Recently, I had the honor of vacationing at my friend’s house in Pennsylvania for a week. During that vacation, I mentioned quilts again. When I did, we decided to take it a step further and made a trip to the local craft and fabric store. The rest of the week, I began working on my first quilt – a combination of pinks, burgundies, reds, oranges, and yellows. It reminds me of a Raggedy Ann and Andy Valentine’s theme.

While stitching together my first pieces of fabric with clumsy, unskilled hands, my mind drifted and wandered and wondered through the ancestry of quilts and the magick permeating quilted timeless treasures. Hence, this writing; I’m curious.

Brief History

The word quilt is derived from the Latin culcita, a stuffed sack, mattress, or cushion. While many believe quilts to be a product of colonial times, history produces evidence of quilting from ancient artifacts from China, Egypt, India, and Persia. One reason history holds its secrets well, in regard to quilting, is due to the fact that many of the original quilts or quilt variations were buried with their owners. However, art and other ancient relics reflect use of quilts from thousands of years ago.

Discovered in the Middle East, the crusaders are responsible for bringing the quilt back to Europe and the British Isles in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The fourteenth century found the quilt to be a way of life due to climate – and anything that could be added for warmth would be used, including grass, leaves, and paper as well as wool. By the early fifteenth century, quilted garments were being worn.

Initially, quilts were quite basic – usually plain white and three simple layers consisting of fabric, stuffing, and fabric. Three layers of fabric and stuffing, stitched together at critical points formed the first quilts out of necessity. The purpose of quilts, naturally, was to keep warm. However, by the sixteenth century, as the quilting technique was applied in other domesticities such as curtains and rugs, quilting became a way of life.

As quilting became more popular, it was discovered that designs could be incorporated with the stitches, which then took on an additional function to their original purpose of holding the fabric together. Embroidery and ornamental embellishments became an intricate part of quilting from that point forward, with letters, symbols, images and such being woven into the design.

While its true quilts originated as a need for warmth, possibly as far back as ancient times, the craft of quilting evolved to an art form as well as an elaborate form of fashion – an art form imbedded, now, with tradition and nostalgia.

Quilting Traditions

When quilting was introduced to the British Isles, it was the wife who became responsible for designing and producing the family’s bedding and other fabric household items, and who was responsible for teaching her own daughters the trade when they reached appropriate age.

Young girls, as soon as they were able, were taught the trade of quilting by their mother. They would spend their youth quilting daily at twilight, assembling a collection of basic home needs to be included in the girl’s dowry as preparation for her marriage. By the age of marriage, the girl would have all but completed her collection, with one piece remaining: The bridal quilt. This quilt would be the most decorated and elaborate of all her creations, and would be assembled as a group effort consisting of extended family and friends. This could well be where the quilting circle originated. Once the bridal quilt was finished, the collection was complete and the young woman would not quilt again until her own daughters were of age to learn the craft.

Many assume quilting was also a daily aspect of the lives of women in Colonial America, but such is not the case because fabric was expensive and not easily obtained. American quilting didn’t really expand until around 1840 when the textile industry had grown to the point that fabric was readily available to nearly every family. From that point forward, quilting has become a much loved American tradition – a tradition imbued with magick.

Quilting Magick

There are multiple ways in which quilts are magickal. Because they have, in many cases, become family heirlooms, there’s a timeless sense of connection woven into quilts. We can get lost in daydreams and visions of aged but skilled fingers laboring over yards of material, threading her needle, and day-dreaming her own intent as the quilt becomes a whole.

Much of the magick of quilting reflects directly on the thoughts, intent, time, and energy invested in the birth of a quilt, the essence of which remains long after the quilter’s death. Hours upon hours, needle in and then out again, one square – one thought – one stitch after another woven into the fabric of time and space. Pay mind to the hands, the fingers, thoughts, daydreams, hopes, well-wishes, and love threading the fragments together.

We can clearly see the magick generated through thought, energy, and intent of the quilter, but what may not be seen as clearly is the purpose in the type of stitch used in a quilt. There are several variations of stitches, each representing a magickal meaning or purpose. Some forms of stitching include the chain stitch, good for working with the cycles of nature and symbolizes the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth; and the cross stitch which is appropriate for workings with efforts requiring balance, quality, or justice.

For a complete list of stitch styles and their magickal correspondences, visit the Country Cauldron website. (http://www.countrycauldron.com/stitches1.html)

Because quilts are decorated using varied patterns, shapes, colors, and designs, magick can also be imbedded into quilts via symbols, elemental representation, astrological influences, Reiki, Feng Shui principles, and more.

There are several patterns and designs stitched into quilts with magickal intent. Through magickal intent, with the use of size, shape, color, and symbols, you can create quilts designed for healing, prosperity, prophetic dreams, protection, wisdom, blessings, love, or myriad other purposes.

Quilts in Dreams

Quilts can also be considered magickal when they appear in dreams, offering symbolic meaning to the dreamer. One theory suggests that a plush down quilt is a sign of prosperity, whereas a patchwork quilt in dreams symbolizes domestic happiness.

The Witch’s Book of Dreams by Karri Allrich says the following about dreaming of quilts:

“Stitching and piecing a quilt together out of various materials can represent your desire to integrate and bring together all the various aspects of your life into one whole.. If you are snuggling under such a quilt, you are secure and comfortable with all the pieces and feel as if things have come together for you.”

Whether the magick of quilts comes to you in dreams, handed down via family tradition, or by way of inspiration to learn about or create a quilt of your own, it does a soul good to embrace the magick of quilts!


Here are the resources used in researching this piece, and additional websites that offer more detail on the history of quilts, magickal meaning of quilts, quilt patterns, and more.













A Witch’s Book of Dreams
By Karri Allrich
Llewellyn Publications
ISBN: 1-56718-014-1

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