More than just a quilt

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More than just a quilt By Shirley Murtha

The 26th annual summer Quilt Happening at Lost Acres Orchard on August 2 featured Granby resident Lorraine German of Mad River Antiques, who explained the importance of quilts as a form of not only artistic but also political expression at a time when there were very few avenues available for women to make their views known. In fact, prior to and during the early 1800s, women were considered their husband’s property, with the husband having the final say in all aspects of managing the household, including furnishings. Only in needlework were women given their independence, with the expectation that they would keep the family clothed and produce any needed linens and curtains.

In the 1820s, women began to enter their best work in agricultural fairs and later into the century, made quilts that expressed their anti-slavery feelings. Some pieces even allegedly contained pictorial “maps,” showing the way to safe havens for escaped slaves. During the Civil War, women made quilts to be used in the hospitals and sent to the U. S. Sanitary Commission that would distribute them wherever needed. Southern women sold quilts to help procure gunboats that protected the ports from Virginia down to the Carolinas.

A local antiques dealer and textile collector, German brought many examples of period quilts to display, along with interesting articles from newspapers relating stories of gifted quilters and the awards and prizes they had won for their work.

As usual, the summer Happening included a delightful al fresco lunch and plenty of quilts, patterns and fabric to peruse. In addition, quilting stations were set up for those who wished to contribute to the making of comforters to be distributed to people of need in this country and abroad. If you would like to participate in the Comforter Project, contact Ginny Wutka at or 860-653-6600.


Lorraine German (r.) was assisted by Kim Bowen in showing the period quilts brought to the summer Quilt Happening at Lost Acres Orchard. photo by Shirley Murtha