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Pat Ehrenberg

Ripon, WI

Quilts are common art. You’ve probably seen one, either in your own house or at someone else’s home. By just looking at a quilt, it’s hard to see that quilts have gone through so many changes since they were first made.

In the past, women made quilts more for use than for art. Quilters used easy-to-get materials to make warm covers for their children and families. Quilters used old clothing and even animal feed sacks for the quilt top and backing. They fastened the layers together with tied yarn or string.

In the 1960s and 70s, many people in the United States started to look at quilts in a different way. People starting thinking that quilts were a way to remember and document the past. Some scholars call this period of time the “quilting revival.” People who patterns.jpg (18701 bytes)loved quilts started state and regional quilt projects so old quilts could be preserved. Quilt experts collected many quilting stories. Museums organized quilt exhibits.

Many people who had quilted before started doing it again with passion. Other people who had never quilted before started to learn. Quilts started to become pieces of art. Quilts weren’t just made for warmth anymore. Now people hung them on walls as art and gave them as gifts. People studied them to learn more about the past and about the lives of the women who had made them. 

Pat started quilting after all this quilt excitement happened. She learned traditional block patterns, like the three shown here.

She also learned to make more unique and personal designs, like this wall-hung quilt tractor.jpg (12140 bytes)she made for her husband.

Pat makes quilts partly for use and partly for art. She saves all her left-over fabric to use in future quilts. That’s like earlier quilters who made quilts from materials they had in their home. But Pat makes most of her quilts from new fabric she buys especially for that project.

Pat makes some quilts to memorialize an event or person. She and her quilt guild, the Sew Happy Stitchers, made the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial quilt to memorialize the state’s 150 birthday. She’s made quilts that represent a special friendship or a particular time in someone’s life.

Many of Pat’s close friends are also quilters. They gather to talk about quilting, to make quilts together, and to give each other inspiration and ideas. Pat, her quilting friends, and other quilters from different places and cultures use fabric and their imaginations to make pieces of art for generations to come.

In Your Community

Are you interested in finding out even more about quilting? A quilt or fabric shop is probably in or near your town. Check Resources for Students for a site that lists Wisconsin quilt shops and Wisconsin quilting guilds. You will also find links to photo galleries of great quilts. Do you already know a quilter? Talking with him or her is a great start!

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Pat Ehrenberg




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