Scholarly Quilting Links

"A more serious, studied side of quilting"

The following links point to full-length online theses, written by (mostly) Canadian scholars who have graciously shared their research about quilting. Obviously, so much more research needs to be done. Expand your understanding of quilting! Most of these links PDF files and require a browser plugin like Adobe Acrobat Reader or Evince, and the files may take some time to load.

Exploring Digital Quilt Design Using Manipulatives as a Math Learning Tool
K.K. Lamberty

Lamberty is exploring ways of teaching mathematical concepts to children. You can download digiquilt for your own use!

Sustaning Energy for Caring: The Experience of Mothers who are Nurses
Geraldine Anne Macdonald

Interesting thesis on how we sustain energy to care for others. The author of the dissertation felt moved to create a quilt to sustain her own energy and collect her thoughts for the actual writing of the paper: and suddenly the quilt provided the answers!

The Louisiana Quilt Documentation Project
Dr. Susan Roach

A very ambitious project seeking to document and create an online searchable database of all quilts made in Louisiana since pioneer days. Along the way, they intend to raise awareness and appreciation of quilting as art, as history, as information.

Insight Imagery: Towards Personal Wellness Through Spontaneous Art-Making and Empathic Co-Reflection
Leslie Soden

Soden tells of a quilt she received on her 40th birthday, friends and family around the world each contributing a block about her. "Without realizing it, I had been cultivating the quilt over a lifetime," she notes. That quilt became a deep insight into herself, and led her to develop and use Insight Imagery, a theory of art and wellness.

A 15th Century Quilted Blanket
Senhora Rafaella d'Allemtejo

A short description of a recreaion of a medieval quilt.

Accepting the Invitation: A Woman's Journey into her own Learning
Monna McDiarmid

This thesis is mostly about the process of learning, and how we learn. Towards the very end of the thesis, McDiarmid gives as an example a woman who longs to quilt, and eventually learns how. "Quilting had helped her to see some things more clearly...", McDiarmid says. It is a wonderful success story, a perfect example of how one learns, and what one learns when one quilts.

Quilt History Timeline, Pre-History to 1800
Carolyn Ducey

The curator of the International Quilt Study Center (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) has put together this list of important dates in the history of quilts and quilting.

Myths, Markets and Metaphors: Navajo Weaving as Commodity and Communicative Form
Kathleen M'Closkey

Not specifically about quilting, but rather about the commercialization -- and impoverishment -- of contemporary Navajo weavers. Poignant and thoughtful, it seeks to answer the question, 'why do they continue to weave?' Many of the insights gained can be applied to today's quilters, especially the quilting of the Amish community.

Rocky Road to Analysis: Interpreting Quilt Patterns
Barbara Brackman

Short but fascinating study of a persistent myth regarding Quilting and the Underground Railroad. Brackman is often asked 'Were quilts read as maps to tell escaping slaves the route to safety?'. The reality is more complex and just as interesting.

Threading Your Research Needle
Kimberly Wulfert, PhD.

This is just an abstract to a paper, but it sounds like it might be worth the $10: Included are 9 Steps for Getting Started to Finishing and Online & Print Resources for Researching.

Stitching the Sacred: Bound in the Bundle of Life
Catherine Cornutt

A fascinating "liturgical quilt" - a study of story binding the self to God, using quilting as more than mere metaphor, as path.

Threadbare Excuses: The Textile Industry's Campaign to Preserve Import Restraints
Dan Ikenson, Center for Trade Policy Studies

A little outdated, but nevertheless an interesting look at the multinational implications of textile trade. Lest we forget the big money implications of using textiles. Don't bother trying to get info from ATMI; they are faceless, a black hole of endless links.

Quilts as Social Text
Helen Kathryn Ball

"Women and men who were recovering from childhood trauma were asked to represent their life experience in quilt blocks" This thesis does contain the experiences of people who quilt, but it contains more: it asks the far deeper question, 'How do we learn to look at something afresh, to find something new?' This became a search for a "social text", which Ball found in quilting. An exquisite journey.

Wholecloth Quilts, Trapunto and Boutis
Patricia L. Cummings and Lisa Evans

Interesting look at the history of quilting, lovingly researched; there are links to other sections. Cummings and Evans have written a wealth of eductional and historical quilting information on their web site, much of it also published in quilting magazines. We owe these quilt-lovers our thanks.

Picking up new Threads for Kathleen Mavourneen: the Irish Female Presence in Nineteenth Century Ontario
Elizabeth Jane Birch

"Women's history exists in scraps which must be pieced together" A study of some of the quilting references in Canadian literature: there are more than you thought!

Transformations: Anthropology, Art and the Quilt
Gwenda Wanigasekera

A fascinating anthropological study of why people make quilts: Gwenda's fascinating conclusion suggests a quilt is more than just an object -- it is also a process: "The quilt as an object resists categorization," Gwenda she writes; "...all the processes that bring it to being are integral to the whole". Gwenda has extensively researched members of a quilting guild in New Zealand, to determine the boundaries of art, craft, and tradition: "For quilters, the process of making is the essence of the quilt." The pdf file has many full-colour pictures. Highly recommended.

Framing the Quilt: Historical and Contemporary Quilts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
Alison Crossman

Here, the 'quilt frame' is a metaphor for the frame of reference through which we percieve quilts. From devalued domestic women's work, to contemporary fine art form: the way we see quilts has changed the very meaning of quilting. An in-depth look at Maritime quilting history, from 1800 to the present day. " is legitimate to question whether the cultural value of a quilt has diminished," Crossman writes. "In order to answer this question, I examine how a quilt produces meaning..."