What are Amish Quilts?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Amish quilts are quilts which have been made by members of the Amish community. The Amish are a Christian denomination which believes in simplicity, plainness, and adherence to Christian faith. In addition to being found in large communities on the East Coast of the United States, the Amish have also settled in other farming regions of America, where they continue to practice a plain way of life. Farming is a classical part of Amish life, but the Amish have also turned to selling their traditional and highly prized crafts to help support their way of life.

While many people associate Amish quilts with an idealized traditional way of life, the Amish actually started quilting much later than other groups in American society. This is because the Amish reject modernization in general, focusing on time-honored traditions as part of their expression of faith. The Amish did not turn to quilting until the 1870s, but once the craft was established in Amish communities, it took off, and Amish homes quickly became filled with quilts, replacing older coverlets and blankets for bedding.


The original Amish quilts were very plain, often in black, dark brown, or blue. The quilted patterns in thread could be quite complex, but it took several decades for the Amish to consider adding blocks of other colors. The use of lots of black and dark colors was retained, however, making Amish quilts quite striking, often with a single diamond or block of bright color offset by the staid background. The Amish also began to include appliqué and embroidery in their quilting techniques.

In keeping with their traditionalist ethic, the Amish are usually far behind major trends in quilting, and this is one of the things about Amish quilts which people find appealing. Their quilts are simple, with a focus on high craftsmanship and basic beauty, and some Amish quilts continue to be hand made from natural fibers. The Amish also use treadle-pumped sewing machines and some synthetics, depending on community mores.

Amish quilt designs vary between communities, since each Amish group decides how modern they want their lives to be. Some Amish quilts remain very simple, while others incorporate patterned fabrics, pastel colors, and other more modern quilting trends. These quilts continue to be used in Amish communities, and they are also available for sale, where they often fetch a high price. Other quilters may also choose to mimic Amish quilt design in their work, assisted by numerous books and magazine features on Amish quilting.


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