The creation of a bed-size quilt take 6 – 12 months. The first step is to decide which pattern to use, and the colour scheme. Next comes the challenge of finding the right fabric in the rights shades of each colour. Often that means a lengthy search into the back corners of the work room. If that doesn’t result in all that is required, then the search expands to visiting stores, sometimes many stores until the “Perfect” fabrics are found, a process that could take weeks.
Next step is the piecing of the quilt top. These are usually made in individual homes as each creator (usually women) has a certain pattern that is her specialty. The patchwork piecing is done by machine (run off propane-powered generators, as the Amish are not connected to “the grid”). However, appliqué and embroidery work are all done by hand.
Patchwork piecing means sewing the small pieces together to make the pattern. Appliqué work is when a piece of fabric is sewed on top of the main cloth, such as flowers being sewn or “appliquéd” on, each piece separately by hand.
Next the quilt tops are returned to the main workshop to be marked for the hand sewing or quilting. Our makers try to quilt them with lots of unique, creative and old-fashioned hand quilting. These sewing lines need to be traced onto the fabric so the quilters have a guide for their hand stitching. Usually plastic stencils are used to mark the patterns, but frequently a combination of different stencils are used to create the desired pattern that fits the open space around the coloured pieced pattern. The amount and creativeness of the quilting make the difference between a “common, nice quilt” and a “uniquely created quilt”. Of course all our quilts are hand, not machine quilted, which adds to their value.
Then the quilt top, backing and quilt batting go to the quilter (again, usually women), who then puts it into a quilting frame, which stretches the quilt to keep it taut while is it quilted by hand, in her home. Most of this work is done in the winter when there is more time for such activities, but as time allows between house work and outside duties, quilting is fitted in to her schedule at other times as well. The best way to see and appreciate the quality of the quilting is to look on the back of the quilt as only the hand stitching shows there.
The last step is the binding of the edges, and that is done at the main workshop. It is then ready for our customers to appreciate, buy and enjoy in their homes.