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Quilting Terms: What is an African Quilt?
African Quilt Books on Amazon
This is a beautiful book of a variety of American style quilts made with African fabrics. I have used the ideas in this book to make a quilt border, and have used some of the quilting motifs.
Sometimes it is useful to create categories to describe things, and quilts are no exception. There are already a number of different categories in quilts, and I would like to define a new one.
African quilts do not have their own official category yet, as far as I know, although most people would be easily able to identify them. It is time to create a definition to help us with our sorting.
What are African Quilts?
The African Quilts category include all quilts that are about Africa, or use traditional African fabrics.
Africa is not known for making quilts, but people on the continent have developed an interest in quilt making, particularly in South Africa. All quilts that are made in Africa are African quilts, but the ones that don't use traditional African fabric or motifs might not easily identifiable as African Quilts.
Quilts that are not made in Africa but are either about Africa or use traditional African fabrics would also fit in this category. They are not limited to a particular time period, since African quilts have been made for decades if not centuries.
What are the characteristics of African quilts?
African quilts have the following characteristics:
- the focus fabric(s) use traditional African designs and colors in their design
- can be made using a variety of patterns - traditional, liberated, art, etc.
- they tend to be complex - I read somewhere that some Africans believe that in order to keep evil out of a quilt / fabric, it should not have a clear path. I don't know if this is truly an African belief, but many quilts do tend to follow this rule
- they have African motifs, such as African animals, people in traditional African costumes, huts, and a map of Africa.
Many African American quilts start with African quilts as a basis, and have adapted and expanded to incorporate other fabrics and motifs.
African fabrics can be purchased at a quilt show, a flea market, or a quilt shop. Many quilters who have purchased them tend to take them home and not know how to use them. They are looking for ideas about how to use traditional African fabrics in their quilts. The links below will show you how some quilters have incorporated traditional African fabrics in their quilts.
Quilting Hubs by Millionaire Tips
- List of American Quilting Magazines
This list shows magazines that are available by subscription and at quilt stores and other retailers in the United States.
- How to make a quilt label
This hub shows the importance of a quilt label, and gives instructions on how to make a quilt label.
- How to Gift A Quilt
This hub shows the importance of presentation in giving a quilt as a gift and provides ideas about how to do it.
- What is a Traditional Quilt?
This hub defines traditional quilts and describes the common features of traditional quilts
Some Quilters who have made African quilts
A sampling of quilters who have made African quilts are listed below. They generally tend to make quilts of a variety of categories. The links take you directly to at least one of their African quilts:
Helen Conway This link takes you to a showcase of a number of beautiful African quilts she has made.There is a link on the page to her blog.
Isa made a small quilt with fabric from Western and Central Africa.
Pacific Life uses African reproduction fabrics using a pattern from Hoffman, the fabric manufacturer's website.
Selvage quilter showcases a quilt made by one of her readers using a combination of selvages and African fabrics.
Gretha Steyn makes quilts that are inspired by art, beading and fabric from Africa and around the world.
South African Quilters Guild is an association who aims to foster an environment where quilters in South Africa can reach their full potential in quilt making.
The African Quilt is a pattern on an Australian website to make a quilt using African fabrics.
African quilts are quilts that are made by Africans, and quilts that are made using African fabrics. Quilters have found a variety of creative ways to utilize these interesting and unique fabrics to make beautiful and intriguing ethnic quilts.