Digging through some of the antique textile booths at Quilt Market, I came upon a whole stack of quilted patched squares made out of rural work clothes. Old stripes cut right out of the coveralls, mixed with early brown woven plaids - all fit together perfectly to make up these earthy patches.
By 1900 upper- and middle-class women had turned to other types of needlework, and quilts were considered old-fashioned and quaint. Southern quilts from the first two decades of the twentieth century were typically made from fabrics left over from making everyday clothing. Quilt making, handed down through generations became a necessity of life. Using old clothes was an economical way to keep your family warm at night while recycling clothes that could no longer be worn working in the fields. I have a whole new appreciation for the early American rural cloths that were woven and manufactured after the cotton gin was invented.
When I got home. I pulled out some old cards with work-related buttons that I had picked up years ago at Brimfield. Someone had collected all of the buttons off of her families clothing - Levis, Burlington, Granite - all companies that were making the clothes that men and women were wearing while working on the farm - and hand-sewn them onto cards to preserve them. Mostly brass or pewter, but some Bakelite and even wooden buttons survived because someone took the time organize and document her collection. This is something I need to take time to do - sort and organize my collection of notions and fabric so that someone will be able to "read" the history of my accumulation - or.... collection.