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The word "quilt" originates from the Latin word, culcita, which means stuffed sack. Currently the term refers to a bed covering which is composed of layers of fabric or patchwork with a filler, or batting sandwiched together. In some cases a quilt will have multiple layers of fabric with no batting.

Why did women quilt? Sewing is a traditional skill and task that women learned and performed on a daily basis. Quilting was not only a functional task, but for many women it was a leisure activity; one that became a means of expression, creativity, socializing, and community building. 

Appliqué quilts are constructed by cutting a pattern out of one material and then applying it to the surface of another.

Pieced or patchwork quilts are made by piecing fabric together into blocks and then connecting the blocks. Designs on these quilts and specific patchwork names were often based on events, locations and Bible verses. 

Album quilts are often collaborative quilts, with each block contributed by a different quilter. It was common for the final work to be presented as an honored gift, such as to a bride or an admired community figure. Popular during the 1840s through the 1860s, different styles of Album quilts include Friendship quilts, and Autograph quilts. Album quilts are historically relevant due to the tradition of a quilter inscribing their block with their signature and possibly a date. The extent of work that an individual completed differed from quilt to quilt; in some cases a quilter would line and back her own square, and in other cases one quilter would collect the blocks and complete the quilt. Uniformity of workmanship is often an indicator that one individual completed the quilt. In the case of an Autograph quilt, it is more common for an individual to have made all of the blocks for the Album top herself, needing only to collect the signatures of her friends.

In instances when women’s lifestyles required them to leave their communities, it was not uncommon for a Friendship quilt to be constructed as a token and keepsake to remember friends, loved ones, and important community members. Generally all of the blocks will follow the same design, unlike Album quilts, which may have different blocks.

While the majority of quilts use geometric shapes in repeating patterns, the Crazy quilt does not follow this trend. The quilt top is constructed using irregular pieces of material of differing shapes, sizes and colors, causing the design to appear accidental and random. During the Crazy quilt fad of the late 19th century, specific factors contributed to the nature of a Crazy quilt including the use of silk and embroidery.

Whole cloth quilts is made from one large piece of fabric, which is traditionally white, but can be other colors. This type of quilt uses no patchwork or appliqué. Stippling, trapunto, cording and padding are often used to embellish the motif. 

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