New York Times Best Selling Author

The Quilt That Walked to Golden

“This quilt not only walks, it talks. And no quilt could have a better author to make it ‘talk’ than Sandra Dallas. A great book.”
—Pat Schroeder, President, Assn. of American Publishers and former Member of Congress

Take a journey back in time and across America’s prairies. Preserving a unique slice of the history of the American West, Sandra Dallas recreates the arduous westward trail for women settling the emerging mining and farm communities of Colorado Territory.

A master storyteller, Dallas captures the spirit of adventure and drive for survival of America’s pioneer women, who often recorded their lives in the quilts and personal documents they left behind. Heart-rending accounts of life and death on the Overland Trail include stories of mothers who lovingly wrapped their children in quilts as burial shrouds. Little-known journals record the day-to-day trials of frontier women, who sometimes relied on their skills with a sewing needle to help scratch out a living. Letters home tell of sewing and quilting circles that provided momentary release from the isolation of remote farms and mining camps.

As the land became settled, sewing bees fueled a growing sense of community. With increased availability of “fancy goods”–thread, store-bough fabrics, and quilt patterns—women quilted for comfort, and sewing bees became anxiously awaited social events. As time passed, Dallas tells, quilting helped women cope through the difficult days of Depression-era America.

After a decline in needlework following World War II, women rediscovered quilting during America’s celebration of its Bicentennial (and Colorado’s Centennial.) Revealing that quilts and quilting traditions serve as an unbroken thread between past and present, Dallas tells how today, thousands of Colorado women—and some men—quilt for pleasure and for artistic expression.

The Quilt That Walked To Golden is beautifully illustrated with colorful quilts from the collection of the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. Wonderful vintage photographs of early Colorado and of women quilting, along with contemporary photos by Povy Kendal Atchison, bring the rich needlework traditions of the American West to life. As a special bonus for quilters, the book includes four complete patterns for traditional quilts.

 

Author’s Note

Shortly after I became a director of the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado, I asked the board president why there was no quilt book on Colorado. After all, many other states had them. She fired back, “Why don’t you write one?” I agreed to do that, figuring the project would take only a few months, because I would use the museum’s archives. Then I found out the museum had no archives. No problem. I could do my research at the Western History Dept. of the Denver Public Library and the Colorado Historical Society, which were within walking distance of my home. But they had only a dozen or so listings under quilts. Still undaunted, I decided to use my own library, because over the years, I’d collected hundreds of books about western women. Then I discovered those books must have been indexed by men, because only a handful had the word quilt in their indexes. I went through the books page by page, looking for quilting and sewing references. That turned out to be a good thing, however, because almost all of the research in The Quilt That Walked To Golden is original to quilt history. The most exciting reference was personal. My mother died shortly after I started the book, and among her effects was a journal she’d kept as a young woman. She writes about the summer she spent on my Dad’s family farm at Harveyville, Kansas, where as a young bride, she became a member of her mother-in-law’s sewing circle. (My folks’ summer in Harveyville inspired my novel The Persian Pickle Club.) Because The Quilt That Walked To Golden goes beyond Colorado, I was able to include Mom’s diary excerpts.


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