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Facts & Fabrications—Unraveling the History of Quilts & Slavery


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Product Code: 10474
ISBN: 
978-1-57120-364-9
Description: 
112p, color
Facts & Fabrications—Unraveling the History of Quilts & Slavery
• 8 Projects • 20 Blocks • First-Person Accounts
Author: Barbara Brackman
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Did Quilts Really Lead the Way to Freedom?

• What role did quilts play? Barbara explores the stories surrounding the Underground Railroad
• Read about the people who were there! First-person accounts, newspaper and military records, and surviving quilts all add clues
• YOU decide how to interpret the stories and history, fabrication and facts as you learn about this fascinating time in history
• Excellent resource for elementary through high school learners - curriculum included!

Recall an unforgettable phase of our nation's history with America's leading quilt historian. Barbara Brackman presents the most current research on the role of quilts during the time of slavery, emancipation, and the Underground Railroad. Nine quilt projects combine historic blocks with Barbara's own designs.


Reviews
Review By: Kimberly Wulfert,   www.antiquequiltdating.com - November 1, 2006
"Most quilters know Barbara Brackman as a foremost authority on quilts related to the Civil War and antebellum social causes. A quilt historian and researcher, she began the study of quilts made during and on behalf of the Civil War by women in America... Barbara's book is written in an open, friendly, easy-to-understand manner... She defines facts as historians use them, the limitations inherent in interpreting sources of information, and therefore the importance of finding multiple sources of information which state that indeed something occurred in a particular way.

In this book, Barbara is sharing her fabrication of the symbolism she has attached to a series of 20 quilt blocks, associating them with slavery in the period of interest, mostly the late 18th to late 19th centuries...

The book presents eight quilt projects and 20 quilt patterns, which are accompanied by historical facts about slavery, taken from first-person narrative quotes from former slaves and from materials written at the time... This is an effective and interesting way to teach about life during the time of slavery and what slaves were forced to endure. Their accounts are recorded in this book of quilt blocks. The reader learns of what they endured and how brave they were. We also learn about what they wore and sewed, how they spent their days and nights, and even how they celebrated Christmas...

The reader is not left wanting for photos of the contemporary quilts and blocks this book gives instructions for. Some quilts are made with African fabrics; others are made with plaids and checks, and others with contemporary or reproduction fabrics. There is not a push toward making the quilts look like they date to the early 19th century or the Civil War era. Diagrams and instructions for cutting and various setting options accompany the blocks. The blocks are pieced except for one which also has applique. For the quilt projects, she has included some applique blocks. Applique templates are provided for a Union Shield and roses and a flower and leafed stem.

The book ends with children in mind. Discussion questions and answers designed to be used with the book in the classroom or home school are offered. There is an easy doll quilt pattern, and there are suggestions for adapting the easier block patterns given in the book to fit certain skill levels.

This friendly book, whose time has definitely come, is written by an expert researcher on the subject of quilts made in the antebellum and Civil War periods."

Review By: Barbara Bamberger Scott,   RelishNow - March 1, 2007
"Did quilts play a role in the saga of the Underground Railroad? Did slaves create quilts with patterns meant as roadmaps to the North? Were hand-made quilts, even those commissioned by slave-masters and sewn together by their slaves, a piece of the emancipation patchwork?

Barbara Brackman, a quilt and fabric expert, museum curator and noted writer (Quilts from the Civil War, America's Printed Fabrics: 1770-1890), has created a new block on the mystery quilt, a combination of fact, fantasy and creative design. It will fascinate many readers - the dedicated quilter who can use the book as a guide to make new patterns and savor old ones; black-history buffs looking for ways to understand the heritage of slavery in America; and lovers of Americana in general, who will happily engage in this speculative story of the link between quilting and emancipation.

Brackman states that "the role of quilts in the Underground Railroad has gained wide acceptance, becoming part of today's classroom learning for children and adults." She poses the question, "Did runaways use quilt patterns, such as the Double Wedding Ring or Drunkard's Path, as code to communicate escape plans?" Her own answer, drawn from extensive research in American fabric work, leads her to conclude that though there is no empiric evidence (many of the patterns in question have never been found on quilts dated before the 1860s), nevertheless the idea remains a compelling one...

Each chapter of Brackman's book is centered on a quilt pattern linked to a story of the long history of African slavery in America. Large and colorful, Facts and Fabrications contains many detailed photographs of quilts, old and new, and illustrations of how to make the quilt blocks that illustrate the stories, from basic fabric requirements to cutting the cloth and measuring. Each quilting block has been helpfully rated for its level of difficulty.

The chapter "Jacob's Ladder," subtitled, "A Block to Recall Buying Freedom," links a quilt block reminiscent of African fabric with spearheads and squares in a cross pattern to the tale of Elizabeth Keckley, a slave born in Virginia who bought her freedom by her skill as a seamstress. Abused by a white man, she had an illegitimate son. Taken by her owners to St. Louis, she supported her child and the entire extended family of her white owners, 17 people in all, through her ability to sew.

She purchased her freedom and that of her son for $1,200 in 1855. She then moved to Washington, where she set up practice as a seamstress and became a confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln, with whom she shared not only an interest in beautifully made gowns, but also the grief of sons lost. Mary's boy Willie died of typhoid, and Elizabeth's son enlisted in the Civil War, passing for white, and was killed in a battle in Missouri.

It is with stories such as these, carefully researched, that Brackman brings quilt patterns, lovingly collected, to new life, celebrating a rich heritage of courage and creativity."

Review By: Barbara Bamberger Scott,   Winston-Salem Journal - February 18, 2007
"Barbara Brackman, a quilt and fabric expert, museum curator and noted writer (Quilts from the Civil War, America's Printed Fabrics: 1770-1890), has created a new block on the mystery quilt, a combination of fact, fantasy and creative design. It will fascinate many readers -- the dedicated quilter who can use the book as a guide to make new patterns and savor old ones; black-history buffs looking for ways to understand the heritage of slavery in America; and lovers of Americana in general, who will happily engage in this speculative story of the link between quilting and emancipation.

Each chapter of Brackman's book is centered on a quilt pattern linked to a story of the long history of African slavery in America. Large and colorful, Facts and Fabrications contains many detailed photographs of quilts, old and new, and illustrations of how to make the quilt blocks that illustrate the stories, from basic fabric requirements to cutting the cloth and measuring. Each quilting block has been helpfully rated for its level of difficulty."

Review By: Joli Hines,   Quilter's Newsletter Magazine - May 1, 2007
"Barbara Brackman separates fact from myth regarding the role quilts played in the Underground Railroad. She weaves together an absorbing collection of first-person narratives, photographs, and carefully documented research. Included are 20 block patterns, each symbolizing a chapter in the story of American slavery, and eight complete projects to showcase them. This book will make a great addition to any quilt history enthusiast's library."

Review By: Martha Heimbaugh,   International Machine Quilters' Association - April 1, 2007
"A very interesting read. I was surprised to find out what history can tell us about the facts - and the legends that we often think of as facts surrounding the slave trade and the Underground Railroad. By presenting written accounts from slave owners, and actual slaves, along with other interesting persons of the time, such as a teacher who worked with freed slaves, Barbara builds for us a greater understanding of Slavery and American Quilt History. Intermixed within the factual and historical accounts are 8 quilting projects. The quilt patterns represented in the projects have symbolic names that "tell the story of American slavery." Although the actual patterns are not representative of the time in history, they do recall the essence of the time and can allow the quilter to recall an important time in American history. Barbara assembled throughout the book quotations from interviews done by WPA workers during the Great Depression. She also uses quotations from letters and other historical resources. The book is filled with old photographs that give us a glimpse back into a different time. And the Endnotes are a very good resource for further study of this subject. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in American history and especially someone who is interested in learning more about the facts surrounding slavery."

Review   Norsk Quilteblad - January 1, 2007
Reviewed in this foreign language publication.

Review   Les Nouvelles - March 1, 2007
Reviewed in this foreign language publication.

Review   Quiltnieuws - June 1, 2007
Reviewed in this foreign language publication.

Review   Quiltemagasinet - February 1, 2007
Reviewed in this foreign language publication.

Review   Australian Homespun Patchwork - June 1, 2007
"This fascinating book, by leading quilt historian Barbara Brackman, explores the dark times of American history, presenting the most current research on the role of quilts during the time of slavery, emancipation and the underground railroad. There are eight stunning quilt projects that combine historic blocks with Barbara's own designs, quilts that are sure to take you back to a time when they were more than just a decorative craft."

Review   Quilt Mania - July 1, 2007
Reviewed in this foreign language publication.

Review   Patchwork-Quiltjournal - August 1, 2007
Reviewed in this foreign language publication.

Review   Australian Quilter's Companion - September 1, 2007
"Another wonderful quilt history book from Barbara Brackman. The book contains first-person accounts from African-American slave quilt makers, many historical facts and assorted quilt designs to make yourself."

Review   The Blue Blog - July 2, 2008
"Brackman, a quilt historian who published THE encyclopedic collection of quilt blocks, has done an excellent job presenting the shameful and the heroic aspects of the period using established history and first-person accounts. She has chosen quilt blocks that reflect the facts about slavery and the fight against it either in style or name or both...The history is fascinating and the piecing of the blocks is challenging, especially at this size. But the resulting blocks, despite what they may represent and despite the difficulty of the construction, are simply cute."