Learn From Home Activity
In partnership with East Gwillimbury Public Library
A quilt was one of the most important parts of an early settler's home. It not only provided a layer of warmth, but also represented hard work and a necessary skill set for young women. Additionally, they also offered the opportunity to re-use scraps of extra material.
One of the earliest versions of a quilt, which was essentially layers of padding and fabric stitched together can be dated back to 3400 BCE. As time progressed, quilts became more intricate with dedicated patterns that were shared by different groups of settlers. Some of these quilt patterns include the Log Cabin, Crazy Quilt, Nine Patch, Pinwheel, Eight Pointed Star, God's Eye, Churn Dash, Schoolhouse, Anvil, Sunbonnet Sue, Double Wedding Ring, Single, Double and Triple Irish Chain, Honeycomb, Rose of Sharon and Sunrise.
Creating a quilt was also one of the primary social activities in which women could participate. Often gathering for quilting bees, women would travel to the homes of friends, family and neighbours with their pieces of fabric to take part in a bee.
Quilting bees are believed to have originated in the 19th century and continued to gain popularity over time, extending beyond the home to community groups including Ladies' Aid groups and Women's Institutes.
Not only would this be a chance to develop their craft and learn new patterns and skills, it would allow for socialization, an opportunity to chat, exchange recipes and household tips while working on a collective project. Additionally, for many young women, quilting was seen as a necessary skill for the next part of her life. Young women were expected to complete a collection of quilts by a marriageable age. The social element of a quilting bee would allow the chance for a group of women to assist with the completion of these important marriage quilts.
In addition to everyday use and commemorating a marriage, quilts were also created for centennial celebrations, war efforts and the donation of utilitarian quilts, fashioned as family heirlooms using special pieces of fabric and crafted by church groups, institutes and more. Many of the quilts in the collection of Sharon Temple National Historic Site and Museum were created for everyday use, placed on the beds of family members. Quilts could also be made in a variety of sizes - we have all sizes from crib to large beds in our collection.
As mentioned, there were a variety of quilting patterns that could be created using scraps and leftover cuts of fabric. One of the most popular patterns was the Log Cabin. This pattern has long been associated with the early settler experience, but evidence has shown similar patterns in weaving projects from Ancient Egypt. The Log Cabin pattern utilizes thin strips of fabric meant to look like the logs used to construct an early settler home. Because of this, many of the original Log Cabin quilts were scrappy rather than colour coordinated. However, certain motifs still remained present. For example, the red centre symbolized the central, glowing hearth of a home and the half light, half dark transition represented the movement of the sun.
Do you want to see how this quilt pattern is similar to a real Log Cabin? We have one here at the Sharon Temple National Historic Site and Museum. Ours was once home to Jesse Doan, his wife Waite Ann Brooks and their children. The cabin had originally been located on Concession 6, Lot 10 near the community of Holt and was moved to the Site by the North York Women's Institute in 1957. Their home was an example of an early settler dwelling built using a wattle and daub method.
Social Studies - Grade 2: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Changing Family and Community Traditions (A1.1, A2.2, A3.4, A3.6)
Social Studies - Grade 3: Strand A. Heritage and Identity: Communities in Canada, 1780-1850 (A1.1, A1.2, A2.1, A2.5)
Mathematics - Grade 1: Geometry and Spatial Sense (Geometric Properties, Geometric Relationships); Patterning and Algebra (Patterns and Relationships)
Mathematics - Grade 2: Geometry and Spatial Sense (Geometric Properties, Geometric Relationships); Patterning and Algebra (Patterns and Relationships)
Mathematics - Grade 3: Geometry and Spatial Sense (Geometric Properties, Geometric Relationships); Patterning and Algebra (Patterns and Relationships)
The Arts - Grade 2: Visual Arts (D1.1)
The Arts - Grade 3: Visual Arts (D1.1)
The Arts - Grade 4: Visual Arts (D1.1)
To create a quilt, pieces of fabric would have to be perfectly cut and carefully hand sewn together. Without developing sewing skills, we've found a method to assemble a quilt of your own! Download the template, follow the instructions and add some colour and designs to make it unique.
Template - see below
Paper (additional sheet)
Decorating Materials; ie. stickers
1. Download and print the template below.
2. Before cutting out your pieces, colour and decorate them.
3. Cutting as close to the black line as possible, cut out your pieces.
4. Using the example as a guide, arrange and glue your pieces onto another piece of paper to create your own quilt block. We recommend using cardstock or a thicker piece of paper, if you have it!
5. If you print more than one template, you will be able to create an even bigger quilt block. Continue the pattern or create more to make an interlocking quilt.
6. Send us photos of your work on social media @SharonTempleNHS, @eg_public_library (Instagram) and @EGPublicLibrary (Twitter) and use #STLearnFromHome to show us your creations!