Short Stories » The Lost Art of Patchwork
The Lost Art of Patchwork
I HAVE been led to think (from my observations among my young acquaintances) that one of the pretty domestic arts is going out altogether. There is such a spirit of buying things ready-made, to save work and time. I never see a home-woven bed-spread or pretty patchwork quilt but that I have a kindly feeling for the maker. I know some gentlemen, sensible ones, who feel the same way.
I remember how sweet and attractive looked a bevy of tidy, happy girls ; they had done up all the forenoon's work, and left a quiet, cool house for mother, and were spending their spare afternoon in industriously putting together fanciful blocks, comparing, and learning patterns from each other, some- one now and then enlivening the rest by a sweet or merry song, and all enjoying themselves the while they accomplished something useful.
Once I saw a lady buying calico in short lengths, and she explained to the clerk that they were for patchwork. "Who is going to make patchwork?" he inquired. "My daughters." "Is it possible! I did not know of any girls that did that kind of work nowadays. I thought that was one of the lost arts. I'd like to get acquainted with girls of that kind."
I remember a very rich gentleman who paid a high price for a quilt of the " Irish chain " pattern. When I expressed my surprise, he said: "Not all the silk and velvet curtains or the upholstered furniture in my residence can call up such beautiful thoughts for me as when I enter my room I see that red and white quilt, and my rest is all the sweeter when I know this is over me. I see and hear many things that were once long ago in my own country, and I will keep this so long as I live."
Another gentleman, sick for many months, one day asked if he could have a patchwork quilt on his bed, he was so tired of a white one. So when it was brought, he smiled and wanted us to "tell him all the pieces." Said he, " My mother once made a patch-work quilt just for me, and I knew all the pieces by heart." I am quite sure that the study of that quilt did much to take his mind from his sickness, and when he was well again he regretted parting with it, so the quilt became his property.
Now, girls, take any patchwork quilt you have, the older it is the better, and look back to the time you made it, and who was at the quilting. Who made the pies and cake? Who got the " wish-bones "? Did you gather up the quilt and throw it over somebody's head, saying, " It's your turn next," creating confusion and fun ? Did you clear everything away after supper and have a little dancing? Do you remember who of the beaux came to take the girls home? Are the pretty fingers that quilted it still warm and quick in life? or are some of those friendly hands whiter than ever before, and still?
Pleasure and industry, usefulness and comfort, the past and the present, all are stitched in and folded up into that precious patchwork quilt.