Amish Hand Quilting

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 Amish Hand Quilting is a subsidiary of Plain and Simple Quilts, specializing in hand quilting and custom services.

On the flat land nestled comfortably in middle Tennessee is Ethridge, a peaceful settlement of 155 old order Amish families.  They came from Ohio for the land, land  conspicuously rock free-perfect for row crops to be sown and harvested using only horse-drawn equipment.  They brought with them "old time" skills and craftsmanship: cabinet makers, basket weavers, cart wrights, wheel wrights blacksmiths, carpenters, and quilters. Since they first arrived, four generations ago, little, if any, has changed in their community, and they continue to pass the skills to each successive generation.

Hand Quilting on a Frame

I am a quilter and my roots are with the Mennonites of Pennsylvania. These two, one a gift and the other a blessing, drew me into an association with a nearby Amish community. Unlike Lancaster, Pa., and it's surrounding Amish and Mennonite districts, we are not bustling with tourism or the resultant commerce. We are, as someone said, "a wide place in the road", a farming community with little more than a bus stop and post office. But we are not without charm! It is a serene, slow-paced place where one room schoolhouses sit squat in farm fields; where teams of draft horses pulling wagons, and black buggies drawn by plain-colored steeds are your only traveling companions on the dirt roads that ribbon through the countryside. Everyone knows everyone else; none pass you on the road without a wave and a smile; you are greeted warmly at each farmhouse; and this is as true today as it was when I was a stranger among these wonderful people.

All work related to quilting is made in our homes. Since old-order Amish have no electric, tops are machine pieced on treadle sewing machines and hand quilted. Our fabrics are 100% cotton or cotton/poly blends. Quilts are batted in either 100% cotton which gives a flatter, more antique appearance or polyester which lofts to accentuate the hand stitching. All fabrics incorporated into quilts will be laundered to allow for shrinkage and running of dyes prior to quilting, and may now be safely machine washed and dried. 

The Amish are not quick to change, that is an obvious fact, and it is this single characteristic that has given us a quilting tradition that has endured for generations. An authentic Amish quilt will be constructed using only plain fabrics, that is to say, no prints, stripes or plaids. The colors are representative of naturally occurring hues in a variety of muted shades--blues for the sky, browns for the earth, greens for the vegetation, etc.

Basting a Quilt

For our purposes, to give a more varied selection to the public, I have been allowed to carry non-Amish designs and printed fabrics to Amish frames with the stipulation that every other quilt be in solid colors. We are very industrious women, so if I am delayed getting a top to an empty frame for quilting, they will start one on their own. This, I think, works very well for you as it greatly reduces repetitive designs or colors, and eliminates offerings that are only representative of my tastes in these areas!

A quilt is one of the few opportunities an Amish woman has to express her uniqueness and creativity--they do not knit, crochet, paint, or embroider. We offer several designs that are original creations. Many found their beginnings on the frames of past generations--the "Spider Web" wall-hanging is one of these, the cardboard templates given to me by an elderly Amish woman who said her mother had created this design. And the stencils many use to mark the quilts come from designs traced from the mouth of a glass, a leaf from the grapevine or off the tree in their front yard. Dried slivers of soap are, more often then not, the quilt marking medium of choice--I am told that "Dial" is the best by far for this purpose!

The Amish do not do appliqué designs, the cutting of a piece of fabric to stitch over a larger fabric is, to us, a waste of material, as is bias cut binding strips. We traditionally use the 'backing as binding' method, where the backing material is left with excess edges that are turned to the front of the quilt and hand-stitched to make the binding--it is easier and more economical. Another less common method of binding is the cutting of strips in an accent color that are then machine stitched around the top, folded to the back and hand-stitched. Also, you will not find mitered corners on an Amish quilt.

Each purchased quilt is accompanied by a tag that identifies the quilter by name, and offers washing instructions. It is important to note that many websites are offering "Amish quilts"--these are traditional Amish designs, not "Amish-made"--there is a significant difference in the quality of stitching! If you are looking for a quilt that is a hand-stitched work of art that doubles as a serviceable addition to your home decor and, if cared for properly, will increase in value, you need search no farther!

People of the Amish community do not accept the demands of the twenty first century.  I invested a great deal of time, effort and resources to establish myself as a reliable, trustworthy person to work with 40 families to establish a sales outlet for the outstanding products created in their homes. Besides beautiful Amish quilting, we've ash-slatted baskets with hand dyed designs in a wide array of sizes; and collapsible oak baskets that double as trivets in a variety of patterns and sizes. Like our quilts, all of these items are offered at very reasonable prices. For these finished products, please visit our sister site at Amish Basket Weaver.

I would be pleased to send you any additional information, prices, sizes, styles and photographs if you will give me details specific to what interests you. I encourage you to email Lydia for further information on this new product line I will be opening.

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