In the past, I have written about quilting as a means of expression for women, but I never thought that it would lead to politics. I suppose it’s because I've grown up in an era where women have the right to vote and where people proclaim their political leanings quite publically (I’m looking at you, Facebook). I've got elections on the brain as we gear up for the political season, so imagine my surprise when I saw “The Political and Campaign Quilt” in our online catalog.
“The Political and Campaign Quilt” is a publication from The Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society and was published in 1984. At first, it looks very unassuming, with its plain blue cover and blind embossed title. Once you turn the pages, your opinion quickly changes. The craftsmanship of these quilts is stunning, and while this book exhibits fine quilting, the reader is also introduced to a group of women who left their mark on these enduring artifacts. As Elizabeth A. Perkins states in the foreword, “Political quilts do not reflect lightly held opinions. The considerable amount of time it took to complete a quilt gave a woman ample opportunity to associate her most personal feelings with it.” Though women did not have an official voice when it came to electing our leaders, they used the means they had to make their opinions known.
Surprisingly, women having the right to vote did not stop them from creating campaign quilts. The quilt pictured below was appliquéd, pieced, and embroidered by Charlotte Christiansen Bass. It was quilted in 1980, though many of the blocks were finished in the 1970’s.
With quilting quickly gaining popularity and a mainstream following, we may see more political quilts in our future. As you can see, quilts can be a tangible reminder of the opinions and feelings we have, whereas a status or tweet is fleeting and quickly forgotten.
Christopherson, Katy. The Political and Campaign Quilt. The Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society (1984). This book may be found in The Filson's library collection.