Big Quilts in Small Sizes: Children's Historical Bedcovers

Art of the Americas, Level 3
September 13, 2014–January 4, 2015
Flying Geese Quilt Image

Ten diminutive quilts chosen from the museum's collection, all of them made for children, reflect the same meticulous stitching and geometric patterns that have been used to create full-size bedcovers in the United States for centuries. The traditional art of quilting perfectly marries functionality and aesthetics; quilts provide warmth and protection while presenting strikingly beautiful decorative designs.

Quilting is defined by the small, often decorative stitches joining three key elements: the quilt’s top, the backing, and the soft wool or cotton battling in between. Variations in the application and arrangement of blocks, sashes and other details create an extensive range in the design and appearance of the artworks.

Although fancier quilts were initially the purview of women of means, quilts made of recycled fabrics from clothing and scraps of household or commercial textiles were also produced for practical uses.  Technological advances in the 18th and 19th centuries dramatically expanded the textile industry and the availability of textiles to the average woman, transforming quilting from a useful endeavor to a popular aesthetic pursuit. 

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Image: Flying Geese, United States, c. 1870, Cotton plain weave, printed, hand pieced and quilted, machine bound, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Felicia Melero Holtzinger, M.91.352.14. © Museum Associates/LACMA 2014