The Mt. Ida Quilt Project: One Community, Two Quilts, Three Centuries

- Bliss Wright, Sarah
Imagine getting a group of your neighbors to agree to make a quilt. In 1851, 12 women of the Mt. Ida community in rural Alabama created a floral album quilt as a wedding gift to a young bride and groom, each signing her square with her name and the name of her plantation home. In 2013, 12 women, none of whom were quilters but who live on or near the same land as the original quiltmakers, re-created the quilt, one-quarter of the original size, as a challenge by the American Quilt Study Group. “The Mt. Ida Quilt Project: One Community, Two Quilts, Three Centuries” weaves together the stories of two quilts and the women who made them, connected by land but separated by three centuries. Each 21st century woman adopted the square of the 19th century woman who lived closest to her present home and, through replicating the old quilt, came to know the original quiltmakers, the history of the community, a greater knowledge of Alabama history, and, in the end, created a sense of community that existed 163 years ago. The Mt. Ida Quilt Project is a history lesson, quilting tutorial, and introduction to valuable research tools easily available to novice researchers.

This entertaining and visually captivating presentation introduces the Mallory and Welch families who moved in 1834 to the wilderness of Alabama recently ceded by the Creek Indians. Their cotton plantations flourished, happy marriages occurred, tragic losses were borne, and, through their own words, we learn of the effects of the Civil War on their lives. The Mt. Ida Quilt Project also takes a humorous look at the challenge of organizing 12 busy 21st-century women with varying needle skills and keeping them on task to accomplish a project that was guaranteed to be fun and have lasting rewards!