When outsiders first became enamored with Amish quilts, they bemoaned that it was a dying art. To paraphrase Mark Twain, however, reports of the death of Amish quiltmaking have been greatly exaggerated. What has happened is change: Amish quiltmaking—like all quiltmaking—has not been fossilized but has adapted and evolved in response to changes in fashion, technology, and society at large. This is true of most aspects of Amish culture; farming practices today are much different than those from 100 years ago, as are transportation, modes of communication, and foods. Although the Amish may seem like they exist in a pre-industrial past, they have been in constant negotiation with modernity. And Amish-made quilts exemplify this.
In addition to changes to Amish quilting styles over the decades, the functions of quilts in Amish homes has also adapted. With the growth of entrepreneurship, quilts have become an important livelihood within Amish settlements. As such, quilts now have more importance as an economic engine, rather than as a sentimental object. But the close association between the Amish and quilts persists, in the minds of both visitors to Amish country and to the Amish themselves. Quilts now help reinforce “Amishness.” Although they are no longer a staple in every Amish home since many families prefer store-bought bedspreads, quilts still symbolize Amish tradition to consumers. And the outsider interest in quilts, in turn, has inspired Amish women to make more quilts, selling many, but also keeping some for home use while keeping the tradition alive.