...But Not of It

While Amish quiltmaking is rooted in the traditions of the wider, non-Amish culture, it has its own styles and flavors, some distinct to particular church districts or settlements. This unique mixture of cultural influences often results in quilts that are “in the world but not of it.” Much of the otherworldly feel of historic Amish quilts comes from the use of solid colored fabrics. Generally, Amish women used the same cloth they employed to make their families’ clothing. Most local Amish Ordnung—or guidelines that govern church districts—has limited Amish fabric choices for clothing to solid colors. As a result, for much of the twentieth century Amish women typically executed quilts in the same solid-colored fabrics they used to make clothing, although exceptions to this rule are frequent. This predominant use of solid colors, rather than the abundantly available printed fabrics found on many non-Amish quilts, has set Amish quiltmaking apart. A handful of distinct patterns that were not typically used outside Amish communities has also resulted in quilts that are recognizably Amish, including Center Diamond, Bars, Plain quilts, and Chinese Coins.