Printer Friendly Version

Album Quilt

Many squares make up an album quilt, each sewn by a different woman.

Quilting brought women together in many places around the country, including Minneapolis, Minnesota. A number of different women each contributed a square to make this “crazy” quilt.
Assembled by Florence Barton Loring (American). Crazy Quilt, 1905. Silk; piecing and embroidery. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, gift of funds from Eleanor Atwater, Martha Atwater, Sandra Butler, Ellie Donovan, Suzanne H. Hodder, Anita Kunin, Laura Miles, Eleanor W. Rein, and Kathleen Scott


key idea
Fashion and Friendship

Women in the 19th century were skilled at sewing. Trained from girlhood, they stitched useful household items and clothing and also decorative pieces (including quilts) for display. During the 1840s, album quilts became fashionable. The name refers to the popular autograph albums of the time—similar to the scrapbooks of today—in which young ladies collected signatures and mementos from friends and family. An album quilt was a collection of many designs sewn by different women and then joined to form one large quilt. Sometimes the makers even signed their names.

Creating album quilts gave women a chance to socialize and to demonstrate their artistry. Made as gifts, the quilts were presented to important people in the community, such as a minister or soldier, or given to mark a special occasion like a wedding or the birth of a child.

Girls and women practiced their sewing skills by stitching decorative samplers like this one.
Attributed to Mary Ann Duffield (American). Sampler, 1788. Cotton; embroidery. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, gift of Arnold Whitcomb Morse
January 2009