The War of the States – Quilts & Fabrics


Quiltmaking was wildly popular during the US Civil War (1861-1865.) However, most of the quilts crafted during this period were not made for the use of the quiltmaker but as contributions to the soldiers in the field and those wounded in hospitals. The Sanitary Commission, a private philanthropic organization, assisted the War Department and Medical Bureau by providing quilts and other items for the comfort of Union soldiers. In 1863, it became the single largest user of quilts and contributed over 5,000 quilts in Hartford, Connecticut alone.

Quilting in the South was more problematic. Plantations were no longer producing the cottons required to supply their needs and Northern mills were not purchasing cotton from the South. Even so, Southern women created quilts at an amazing rate, often using treasured family heirlooms, clothing, wool, and whatever scraps they could lay their hands on.

Quilts were used to raise money for the war in both the North and South. They were often sold at fundraising events and then donated to the soldiers. Signature Quilts became very popular as moneymakers. Participants were charged  to sign the quilts. Signature placed along the sides of the quilts cost less, while those in the middle might cost considerably more.

Madder browns are the most distinctive colors of the Civil War period. Fabrics dyed with madder gives the fabric a coppery tone. Dark chocolate and a range of other browns were also common. Double pinks were popular and were often used in brown and pink quilts. Turkey red, orange, indigo blue, and intense purples were also frequently used in fabrics of this era.

As we commemorate the 150 anniversary of the Civil War, there is a renewed interest in Civil war fabrics, patterns, and quilts. Luckily there is an abundance of all three in today’s marketplace for the traditional quiltmaker.

Suzan @ AQS

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When I put my email address in the space above -to get the newsletter- it says it is not a valid email address. — Not sure what the software is checking but someone might want to look into the problem. — It was exactly what I typed above

This is so fascinating, especially when you think about the Quilts of Valor organization-a private organization-and the quilts go to today’s soldiers.

150 years separate these wars, but the need for comfort is the same.

Very interesting, I wish there was more!!!!!!!

It is such a wonderful and interesting item for quilters. Send out more like it.

Anne Shears

When I lived in Tennessee, I was told by a quilt historian that southern women would often cut a bed quilt in half, rebind them, and send two quilts to Confederate soldiers.