[Alice] took in 5 bed quilts to quilt. In 3 weeks and 2 days we quilted 4 (which amounts to 7 dollars), have another ready to put in tomorrow which is to have considerable work on it. It will be 3 dollars more. Another she has to peice [sic] and quilt will be 3 more. And she has 6 ready to quilt for herself. She owes 3 dollars on her bureau, but the remainder will help get some little articles needful, and she has a fine cow worth 12 dollars which she expects to sell.
This quote comes from American Grit: A Woman's Letters from the Ohio Frontier, a collection of letters Anna Briggs Bentley wrote beginning in 1826 after her move from Maryland to the Ohio frontier. Anna's daughter, Alice, was preparing to marry and was earning and saving money. I can only guess that these were bed-sized quilts, not little crib or doll quilts.
I think I'm a slower quilter than many. It takes me three or four months (or more) to hand quilt a twin-size quilt. Granted, I don't spend all day every day quilting (my fingers couldn't handle it) but even if I spent more time quilting I know I could not quilt as fast as Anna and her daughter, Alice did.
In the 40 or more years' worth of bright and lively letters Anna penned, she detailed many of her daily activities. But she wrote of quilting only several times, almost in passing, while mending clothes and knitting socks are oft-mentioned topics. How I wish Anna had written more about quilting and had given a description of the quilts they quilted.
I mentioned Anna in a previous post where she requested that her mother and sisters send her needles.
What about you? Could you and a friend hand quilt four quilts in 3 weeks and 2 days, along with your other 1840s-era chores and responsibilities?