Vintage Textiles: "Tied Quilts"

This month’s article on Quilt History comes to you via the Facebook Group Quilt History South. Their recent discussion has been about Tied Bedcoverings. Are they really quilts? In my opinion of course they are!!! Half the quilts that my Mama and Grandma made were tied. The definition of a quilt is a top, a batting, and a backing. To me it doesn’t matter how it is secured together. By that definition though a Crazy quilt would not be a quilt……but that’s a different article!!!


As I said above my Mama made a lot of beautiful tied quilts. She did not quilt all of them, probably because she didn’t have time. There are many ways that you can “tie” a quilt, as seen in the pictures below. Perhaps you have seen these different ways over time. Once I was visiting the Mennonite Community here in Pitt County on their sewing day and they were tying a quilt. It was fascinating. They had a quilt stretched out over a square frame, with ladies seated all around. There was a large covering over the quilt with holes spaced evenly over the whole quilt top. In each hole a lady would take a stitch and then cut the string and tie it in a square knot. The holes were evenly spaced so the ladies did not have to measure every single knot. It made for fast finishing also!!!


Mary Fons stated in an article on the internet about tied quilts: “But here’s the thing: Tied quilts are sometimes…softer. And they may be slightly warmer. Of course, there are many factors that go into the softness and warmth of a quilt, but it’s true that the heavier the quilting, the less warm or soft a quilt will be. A tied quilt has more space for trapping air in between the layers, and that will arguably make it warmer. And because there aren’t a bazillion tiny knots all over the quilt, that sucker’s gonna be soft. Well, as long as you’re not tying with electrical wire or something. (It’s usually embroidery floss or yarn.) And there’s also the intense, inexplicably satisfying textural thing that happens with all those little ties. Run your hands over all the little nubby ties and you’ll smile. You just will.”


I am sure that you have quilts that were passed down in your family that were tied as well. I just love the fancy way in which some of the quilts were tied. And I love the way they feel.