Strip quilts are constructed from pieces of fabric (squares or rectangles) that have been assembled in long, narrow strips, and then combined to create a top. Whether placed in a horizontal or vertical orientation, the use of strips in a quilt top echoes the overall geometric form of the quilt itself. The making of strip quilts in the African-American community has been specifically tied by quilt scholars to the aesthetic of the African practice of combining fabric strips woven on narrow, portable men’s looms to make larger pieces of cloth used as clothing, space dividers, tents, and for many other practical purposes. What is definitely known is that the tradition of strip quilts in the African-American community dates back well into the nineteenth century.
In the case of strip quilts, the pattern is subservient to the size and type of fabric remnants available to the maker. All manner of scraps of any size can be assembled in strips to create a top, and the skill of the maker in arranging her scraps would determine the visual impact of the final product. The Sock Top quilt was assembled in a similar fashion, however the fabric in this quilt is a collection of “remaindered” tube socks acquired from the quilter’s sister-in-law, who was employed by a sock manufacturer in Fort Payne, Alabama. Thus, the use of materials readily at hand plays a starring role in the creation of the quilt. Economy of both material and means in each case leads to a product that demonstrates both the creativity and the ingenuity of the maker.
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