saturday simplicity: no better sermon than a patchwork quilt

saturday simplicity
notes from maggie's farm

"Did you ever think, child….how much piecin' a quilt's like livin' a life?" 

"And as for sermons, why they ain't no better sermon to me than a patchwork quilt, and the doctrines is right there a heap plainer'n they are in the catechism. Many a time I've set and listened to Parson Page preachin' about predestination and free will and I've said to myself, 'Well, I ain't never been through Centre College up at Danville, but if I could jest get up in the pulpit with one of my quilts, I could make it a heap plainer to folks than Parson's making it with all his big words.' You see, you start with jest so much calico; you don't go to the store and pick it out and buy it, but the neighbors will give you a piece here and a piece there, and you'll have a piece left every time you cut out a dress, and you take jest what happens to come. And that's like predestination. But when it comes to the cuttin' out, why, you're free to choose your own pattern. You can give the same kind o' pieces to two persons, and one'll make a 'nine-patch,' and one'll make a 'wild-goose-chase,' and there'll be two quilts made out o' the same kind o' pieces, and jest as different as they can be. And that is jest the way with livin'. The Lord sends us the pieces, but we can cut 'em out and put 'em together pretty much to suit ourselves, and there's a heap more in the cuttin' out and the sewin' than there is in the calico."

Eliza Calvert Hall, whose real name was Eliza Calvert Obenchain, wrote a series of short quilting stories, which were compiled in 1907 in Aunt Jane of Kentucky, from which the selection here is excerpted. She was the president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, a suffragette movement, and fought in particular for a woman's right to make her own will.


  1. I don't think I ever heard predestination and free will explained any better! I really enjoyed this post. Quilting is such a deeply ingrained way of life for many of the previous generation, and was one of the early forms of recycling. It is truly art, and these are some beautiful pieces of art you have displayed. I am glad I visited today. :D

    1. Hi Cath,
      Thanks for stopping by! I agree that it's a great, simple example of life. I wish I'd had better pictures of all the quilts there. It was very dark, so some of the art quilts didn't come out well, but they were so pretty. One quilter is also a photographer. She takes her photos, makes patterns of them, then makes a quilt from that pattern. Pretty impressive, huh?

  2. I enjoyed this a lot. I love to read about quilting and seeing such art! Have you ever read any of the books by Jennifer Chiaverini (Elm Creek Quilt Series)? She writes historical fiction, and weaves tales using quilts and their history, superstitions and they are GREAT. I just finished the 16th one! I can't do any needle work, but when I read them I wish I could go to quilt camp!

    1. I haven't seen those books, Winnie, but I'll have to look them up. Wouldn't a quilt camp be a great idea. I'm thinking of trying my hand at it, though not sure where I'm going to find the Thank you for stopping by!


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