Our family has just had its first wedding in a new generation! I knew I wanted to make a wedding quilt for the happy couple, but a traditional white quilt would not do ... I asked the bride and groom to tell me what their favorite colors were. My quilt palette thus became (bride) pale blue and white for calm, red and black for energy; (groom) maroon, plus shades of blue and green. Blending the colors using complimentary fabrics and adding four more arcs to the chosen design produced the resulting lotus-like design and an apt name for the quilt. The quilt is machine pieced but hand embroidered and quilted. I began Thanksgiving 2006, had the top finished by the wedding day, 20 July 2007, and the quilting was finished Easter 2008. The pattern was inspired by a piece of artwork our son drew while in Spain and is surrounded by a traditional Double Wedding Ring Pattern**.
The bride and groom were given a link to this site on their wedding day and viewed the top for the first time here!
* Lotus flowers start off as a seed in the bottom of a mucky, smelly pond, but as they grow, they eventually make their way out of the pond, to the top where they open in the morning, close in the evening, offering both pleasure and inspiration in life. This seems an apt metaphore for the ups and downs of wedded life!
** Quilting was once part of every woman's basic education, as essential as baking bread, spinning, weaving, and raising children. Young women would generate an average of 12 quilt tops prior to their weddings. The wedding quilt, all white, intricately stitched and corded, has a fascinating yet relatively unknown history originating in southern Europe more than 700 years ago. It was traditional for the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom to each make a quilt for the newlywed couple or for the two women to collaborate together on one quilt, getting to know each other and sharing stories of their children.
As families moved across the prairie in wagon trains, ministers were in short order. When a couple decided they wanted to get married, once permission was secured from both families, the union was “blessed” by wrapping the young couple together in a brand new quilt. Such quilts were made by the women of the wagon train in quilting bees along the trail where each woman supplied precious pieces of fabric to comprise the quilt then helped with the hand stitchery. Those present to witness the union sometimes represented their good wishes and witness to the couple's union by signing the patches in the Wedding Rings.
Some suggest the Double Wedding Ring pattern was first "born" and passed along in this time frame where access to whole cloth was not possible; however the pattern was not published until 1928. The motif of two interlocking rings goes as far back as the fourth century when it was used to decorate Roman cups. Another early example of interlocking rings is found in the gimmal ring. These rings were popular in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. They consisted of rings that could be interlocked. During the engagement one was worn by the man and the other by the women. When they married the two rings were fitted together to be worn by the wife.
Since the 1820’s quilts very similar to what has become best know as the double wedding ring pattern were seen under names like: Rainbow, Around the World, Pickle Dish, Coiled Rattlesnake, Endless Chain, King Tut and Friendship Knot. Another delightful myth was published in a 1932 brochure which connected the Double Wedding Ring quilt to the Civil War. The publication offered this story of how the pattern came to be named. It seemed a grandmotherly woman had made a great many quilts. One was particularly special and she was saving it for her niece's wedding. Sadly the wedding had been delayed because the potential groom had been wounded in the war and spent several years away in the hospital. He finally came home and a wedding was planned but he had no rings for the wedding. When the bride to be told her beloved aunt that the rings would have to wait, the older woman said, "My child, I'll furnish the rings. You shall have my favorite quilt and we will call it the Double Wedding Ring."
No matter what it is called, no matter how it is varied by each quilt designer, beginning marriage with such a gift can only portend the very best for the years ahead.