Some of us believe that quilting began in New England as an outgrowth of a limited, affordable supply of fabric coming from Europe. Others credit the Amish and Mennonites. According to Rachel Pellman and Joanne Ranck in their book
Quilts among the Plain People, quilting is an ancient art, dating back to Egypt, China and India. These cultures discovered the insulation value of layering three fabrics together, and created clothing using this technique. The Crusaders carried examples of this craft literally on their backs
as quilted clothing under their armour and introduced quilting to England.
Lest we get carried away and deny the Americans their due, the combination of patchwork and quilting did merge in early America. While exquisite quilts were made in Europe, the hardships of the New World and the scarcity of fabric caused the women to become resourceful, thus patchwork quilts were created from whatever scraps of clothing, bed sheets, drapes, flour sacks, or any other thing that resembled fabric.
What's in a Name?
Early in the 1900s, as more women became interested in quilting and wanted to expand the variety of blocks they used in their quilts, they would write to magazines and newspapers for ideas. Publications would list the requests in one issue then publish the answers in the next issue. The blocks would be published with instructions and a picture. Often the blocks were renamed to sound more current or to give credit to a city or state, and one block would end up having several different names.