Pieced Borders, Quilt Borders, Quilting with Friends, Seminole Patchwork

Round Robin

Each year in January or February we tap into the creativity of some guild members for our program.  On Tuesday, four of us demonstrated techniques we enjoy:  Small Drawstring Bag, Crewel Embroidery, Stamp Carving – and I was pleased to be asked to demonstrate Seminole Patchwork.

I became interested in piecing by the Seminole when my husband and I were on a winter vacation in Florida last year.  The creativity of the Seminole continues to amaze me.

The Indian Removal Policy in the 1800’s  forced the relocation of East Coast Indian Tribes to Oklahoma.  The Seminole took refuge in the Everglades.   Only able to make the trip to the trading post once a year, every bolt of fabric  traded for animal skins and furs was extremely precious.  They were sure to make use of every scrap of fabric on the bolt and Seminole Patchwork was born!

Coming Back from Trading Post

In the 1900’s hand-cranked sewing machines became popular and in the 1920’s designs were completed by strip piecing.  Extremely popular designs were:

  • Blocks or Bars of alternating colors
  • Sawtooth Designs

I can imagine that the machines were one of their most prized possessions.

Traditional dress incorporated these horizontal bands of both simple and intricate patchwork.  The more elaborate and complex designs were symbolic of:

  • Seminole clans
    • Bear, Snake, Panther, Toad, Bird, Deer, Wind, Otter
  • Refection of daily life
    • lightning striking across the sky
    • crosses reflecting Christian teachings
    • fires racing through swamp
    • spools holding colored threads that were used for the patchwork

Not only did they use patchwork in clothing for themselves,

Typical Seminole Clothing

but also used it to make doll clothes.

Seminole Doll with Patchwork Bands

It certainly was a fun experience for me.  I hoping that everyone came away with an appreciation of the craft.  It’s a great way to not only add borders to a quilt but some interest as well.

There is always time to quilt!
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