I wrote quite a lot, early this year, about a quilt I was making as part of a challenge held by our quilt guild. As you will see, this quilt challenge clearly moved many people.
The time and creativity and energy and passion that went into making these quilts was evident and inspiring. These quilts were made to honor our ancestors, our region, our home, our people.
The quilts were made in response to a challenge set by our local guild to create a “Cot to Coffin” quilt, as a way of commemorating the men who fought in the Battle of Plattsburgh, in the War of 1812.
The Battle of Plattsburgh took place in September of 1814 and was considered a turning point of the war. Local volunteers have been anticipating this bicentennial for a long time!
To refresh your memories, the quilts were supposed to be made to measure 70 inches by 30 inches, with the idea that they could’ve been carried to battle with the foot soldiers. The quilts were a size that could be used as a blanket or, if the soldier should die, could be pressed into use as a burial shroud.
We were asked to use fabrics, patterns, and techniques of the types available to women in early 1800s America.
During the week of the Battle of Plattsburgh bicentennial, forty-two quilts were displayed in the City Hall. The quilts were made by women and men, experienced quilters and absolute novices!
This quilt, made by a retired art teacher and the first quilt he has ever made, translates the portrait of naval leader Thomas Macdonough to fabric.
This quilt, made by a very experienced quilter, commemorates Crab Island, in Lake Champlain, the site of a field hospital during the battle and mass burial ground of both American and British casualties of the war. The quilter embroidered everything by hand, including the names of the men buried on Crab Island around the border.
Other quilts used patchwork designs that were popular at the time and reproduction fabrics to recreate the look of quilts that could’ve gone to battle with husbands and brothers and sons.
One quilt, instead of honoring the soldiers of the battle, honored the volunteers who have, for years, honored the soldiers of the battle. This quilt contains the signatures of the Battle of Plattsburgh volunteers who pulled out all stops to make the bicentennial a huge event!
I especially loved this quilt, made by a cousin I don’t even know! It incorporates a stylized family tree design, honoring 200 years of the Wright family, the family of my maternal grandfather.
I almost forgot to take a picture of my own quilt, which focused on a song written by Catherine Macomb, the wife of one of the leaders of the battle! I heard very kind feedback from people who viewed the quilt. The quilt was also pictured in the local newspaper, in a story about Catherine Macomb’s song!
This was a new quilt-making experience for me, tying my work to a larger theme and purpose. I was, frankly, completely surprised at how much I was moved by the whole endeavor. It is so obvious, from viewing the quilts on display, that others were as inspired by the challenge as I was!
For more on this challenge and my quilt, visit these earlier posts:
1812 “Cot to Coffin” Quilt–The Plan
1812 Quilt–A Letter to Catherine Macomb
1812 “Cot to Coffin” Quilt–Progress Report