For generations, Appalachian women kept their families warm at night by weaving coverlets and piecing together quilts for their beds. They passed their styles and patterns down from one generation to the next. Many were bright and beautiful works of art, often proudly highlighted in family photographs. They became even more treasured as cheaper factory-made textiles replaced handmade goods.
In the early twentieth century, when it seemed as though these skills were in danger of dying out, a craft revival movement stimulated a market for handmade bed coverings that helped ensure their survival. Today these coverings, like so many other handmade mountain crafts, are greatly prized by their makers and by the people who purchase them. So the next time you’re at grandma’s house and are warm and toasty under a homemade quilt, remember that that’s not any old blanket; that is a work of art.
Digital Heritage Moments are produced at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. To learn more, visit DigitalHeritage.org. You may also hear Digital Heritage Moments each weekday on radio stations WKSF-FM, WWCU-FM, WMXF-AM, WPEK-AM and WWNC-AM.