About a year ago the Wilson Folklore Archives received a gift of a beautiful coverlet that was about 100 years old. It had an interesting history. Back In the South, I believe Tennessee, a young girl wanted to start a handiwork project. She was about 14. Her father gave her some land to plant cotton on. She planted and cared for the cotton and when the time came she picked the cotton and spun it. Then she wove it. This was quite a bit of work but she was not through at this point. She was making a coverlet for a double bed and a coverlet had embroidery on it. The embroidery is the same color as the coverlet. There is a good deal of feathering stitches. The coverlet was finished when she was 16 and it was used to cover her bed when she was first married. The coverlet is in good shape with some staining and the conservation department at the Lee Library was able to wash it recently even though the staining remains. Over the years the coverlet remained in the family as they moved west. Not long ago an elderly women who possessed the coverlet passed away in Long Beach and left it to a neighbor. Eventually it was donated to Perry Special Collections.
Why did the young girl take the time to embroider the coverlet? It didn’t make it warmer, but it did make it more beautiful. The same principle applies to quilting. The batt between the two pieces of fabric increases warmth, but the quilting pattern or in this quilt the embroidery make the item more beautiful.