“In the world, but not of it,” describes the balancing act the Old Order Amish have attempted to maintain between the modern world and their conservative religious society. Quilts reflect this balance, as they reveal the influence of the dominant society colored by Amish sensibilities. Since the Amish did not bring the practice of quiltmaking with them from Europe and instead learned it while living alongside other Americans, Amish quiltmaking shares much in common with the dominant quiltmaking tradition. If fact, for some quilts, it is difficult to tell a quilt is Amish-made unless you know the maker.
Amish quiltmakers have embraced the use of commercially published patterns and factory produced cloth. Amish-made quilts, like all American quilts, have been part of consumer culture, products of the abundance of cloth that became available only after the industrial revolution. Amish quiltmakers had access to publications that printed patterns, including farm newspapers, batting wrappers, and mail order catalogs. Amish quilt trends lagged behind those of the dominant society. Yet the Amish have never been immune from the fashions of the larger world They have adopted and adapted technologies, conventions, and fashions, but have done so at their own pace.