Quilts are three layers of fabric stitched together.

But beyond that simple definition, quilts also

  • keep us warm and cozy in our beds
  • make great gifts for weddings and births
  • look amazing hanging on the wall
  • serve as a versatile interior design element
  • exhibit the creativity of their makers
  • make a lot of businesses a lot of money
  • bring communities together
  • let others know we care

In addition to all this, quilts are good to think with; they help us contemplate many large and relevant topics, including politics, race, community, and economics. Quilts are tactile pages of our shared American story, each different, but part of a collective whole.

Quilts serve as a lens into American history and traditionsour memories and our myths. The study of quilts reveals important aspects of industrialization, consumer culture, community engagement, everyday creativity, utility, aesthetics, nostalgia, domesticity, and globalization.

This is a story of American quilts, but quilts are not American objects. Although the world has come to consider patchwork quilts as quintessentially American, the United States is just one stop in the long history of global quiltmaking.