Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My near obsession with Quilting and the Underground Railroad

My obsession with Quilting and the Underground Railroad started a few years back when my mom lent me her copy of Jennifer Chiaverini's "The Runaway Quilt." While I realize her story is fiction it really piqued my interest. Before long, I discovered Eleanor Burns, "Underground Railroad" pattern book and was compelled to make the quilt.

For Christmas this year I received the book Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad by Jacqueline L. Tobin & Raymond G. Dobard. Wow, is that an amazing book. Every time I turned around I was learning something new.

If you've read or seen the movie The DaVinci Code, you've learned a little bit about the Free Masons and the use of Masonic Code. If you believe in the Underground Railroad, you'll learn that a lot of the quilt squares we recognize today are based on codes similar to the Masonic Codes. The codes were the used the same way to pass along information.

It was interesting to learn how a flying geese quilt block is made so one set points north. Only it's not the geese that point north, it's the striped fabric used on one of the geese sets that points north. Another example is the Trip Around the World pattern, or the Bears Paw block. Trip around the World would have told the slaves to go around the mountains where as Bears Paw was telling them to go through the mountains following the bears trail to food and water. And then there's the tying of quilts. Here I thought it was merely for utility purposes...oh no...not at all. The number of ties, the pattern of ties, the ways the knots were all tied all came into play. They told things such as how far to the next railroad station, when to travel, or acted as a map.

The book was an absolutely fascinating read. I can see myself reading it many times and learning something new each time.

And if that doesn't make me addicted enough, I've also added The Civil War Diary Quilt by Rosemary Youngs to my collection. Someday I hope to make some of the blocks but in total there are 121 of them!


Tuesday, March 27, 2007 - Civil War diaries
Posted by orchidlover (
Don't worry Jen, at the rate you turn out work it wouldn't suprise me if you've got the blocks done by the summer love and hugs gina xxx

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by scissorhandscps (
That is a very beaudtiful quilt!!!! Did you use a fabric line or stuff from your stash. You have inspired me to make this. I'll throw it on the pile. LOL Cindy

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by lori (
What a great quilt , you've inspired me to get mine finished ,just have to add the borders .Like you I love reading about the underground railroad ,I've read all the same books except Hidden in plain View ,don't know how I missed that one ,thanks for mentioning the title .

Friday, March 30, 2007 - Untitled Comment
Posted by seamsantiques (
Love your quilt. I have the Civil War Diary Quilts book and I'm going to be asking for the other two as gifts from my son and his wife. He's a book store manager so books and they usually come up with some kinda quilting book they think I'd like. So I might as well ask for what I'm interested in at the moment!

1 comment:

Heidi in Estes Park, CO said...

I have found my twin!!! I made the Underground Railroad quilt 3 years ago and am now working on the Civil War Diary quilt blocks!!!