Tuesday, October 16, 2012

World War II Quilts - AQSG Study Center

Though it is true that many women were busy working outside the home and taking part in other war effort activities, the impression that no one was quilting during WWII was refuted by Sue Reich's many examples and her thorough research of newspaper references to quilt activities during those years.
Women have a long history of expressing themselves through their quilts.This study center in Lincoln, NE, last week focused on  the time period of 1941-1945.
Not all quilts related to war are done in red, white and blue.  Here we see a couple of military figures included in the pre-tinted motifs which could be embellished with embroidery and used for pillows or other decoration.

Factories ran 24 hours a day which meant there were many night shift workers trying to sleep during the day. This unusual quilt features the silky banners to be displayed at the homes of those workers. They remind visitors that someone is sleeping. They are set alternately with parachute fabric.

  "Quiet Please. Night Shift War Worker Sleeping."

These silk 'sweetheart' pillow covers were popular gift items often sent back home to loved ones.
Someone made a quilt out of the tops.

V for Victory - a popular motif in many formats.

 Here's Sue with her helpers at the opening night event at the IQSC

Be on the look-out for fabric that may also help date quilts from that era in quilts that do not have an obvious connection.

and for labels like this one indicating a specific group of women with a mission.

Not all quilts made during this time were so graphically obvious about the subject of the war and patriotism. Here's one block of an embroidered quilt honoring the memory of lost loved ones. Perhaps this was a fundraising quilt where people paid a certain amount of money to have their name included. 
In the center of the circle is "In Memory of Clifford Snyder" with the four outer inscriptions also in memory of a specific soldier.

This quilt, at a distance, just looks like a graphic motif - maybe an asterisk - but look closer. The pattern is formed with four 'V's" and is  called "V" block.

The pattern is in this book by Ruby McKim or you can download a PDF for the pattern here.  This book was first published in 1931 but it is common for blocks to be reissued and renamed over the years.

I have shared here just a few images from the study center and the additional quilts shown at the IQSC with permission from Sue. She offers a wide variety of talks. For more information, or to book a presentation in your area, click here.

 Next: Early Twentieth Century Quilts


  1. I have wanted to post something like this on my site and you have given me an idea. Cheers.

  2. Would the anonymous person who sent that last comment care to identify yourself? You can email me privately. I have had a bunch of 'anonymous' comments that I have not published as they are spam and I am close to asking anonymous followers to please be identified. I know there are legitimate anonymous followers so I hate to assume spam and hold back from publishing.

  3. I enjoyed Sue's exhibit and presentation. I also attended the North Platte Cantina presentation - it was fascinating.
    Great Post!


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