Written by Rebecca Russell
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Throughout the years, women in every society have worked to master the art of needlework. While painting, writing, and other artistic pursuits were planted firmly in the male realm, masterpieces created with fabric, thread and a needle were toiled over by women of every class and station. These pieces were generally created for a purpose--tapestries were essential to keeping out drafts, quilts were created to keep sleeping bodies warm and clothing was necessary for obvious reasons. As such, the skillful handiwork on all of these crafts and many others was not considered artwork at all.

The Quilting Tradition

Quilts, in particular, were born out of necessity and a strong need to reuse materials and resources. They were created out of old scraps of fabric from clothing that had been patched and re-patched until it was no longer serviceable. Perhaps these early quilts were not the most beautiful creations, but over time, they evolved into the wonderful artistic creations that we recognize today.

These days, quilts are hung as decoration and admired as artwork. Gone are the days when a stunning quilt was relegated to the back bedroom. Quilts are created and sold at local craft fairs, quaint country stores, and even online. Purchasing a handmade quilt can often be quite expensive, however, and those who have some artistic ability may choose to design and create their own quilts.

Quilts for a Modern Age

Designing a quilt generally begins with the study of traditional, as well as more modern, quilt blocks or patterns. There are many books available that describe some of the most popular quilt blocks. Most of these have drawings or photos of each block and basic instructions on how to create them. It is important to note that quilt blocks can be pieced together in a variety of ways to form different designs.

Additionally, quilt blocks are readily available on the Internet. Such resources are especially helpful for quilting beginners. A quick search for simple quilt patterns will result in some wonderful websites that provide the novice quilter with easy designs and helpful tips.

Quilt making is a wonderful hobby and pastime that is becoming increasingly popular. There are several levels of proficiency in quilt making, from machine quilting to hand quilting and elaborate piecework. The most satisfying part of quilting, however, is that no matter what level you have mastered, you will still end up with a beautiful final product.

Quilts as Gifts

For an upcoming celebration or special occasion, consider giving a quilt as a gift that will be truly appreciated and treasured for many years. Aside from being a unique and thoughtful gift, quilts can be personalized for any recipient. By using pieces of fabric that hold particular sentimental value, your gift can take on a special quality that will be unmatched by many others.

Additionally, if you have a group of creative friends and want to give back to your community, consider makings quilts to donate to local children's hospitals. Working in a group will make the work go fairly quickly and the quilts, made with thought and care, will very likely brighten up the lives of many young individuals. Perhaps they, too, will be inspired by the art of quilting and become part of its rich and vibrant tradition.

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