What is a bed turning?
Bed Turning started as a social event way back in the “olden days” with the pioneer women. After hand sewing quilts by the light of candles and flickering lamps in the dark log cabin, they wanted to show all the wonderful, warm quilts they had created throughout the long winter nights. They would invite all the ladies in town over to their home for refreshments and a Bed Turning.
Of course, there were no large areas in their cabins in which to show & display their quilts so they just used the most logical place – their bed. They had no fabric or quilting stores as we have today, they used the fabric they had on hand; old flour sacks, curtains, neckties, outgrown children’s clothing, pieces of husband’s work shirts and even their own old aprons and house-dresses in their quilts.
Before her guests arrived, she and a friend would spread all of her quilts neatly on top of her bed, one at a time, just as if it were the only quilt on the bed. So they were stacked on top of each other so you could only see one at a time.
When the guests arrived, they would all sit and visit awhile, maybe she would serve some modest refreshments and enjoy a well-needed social time with each other after a long, hard winter. They were excited to finally be able to gather around the bed to see her beautiful quilt work. She would describe each one as it was revealed, telling if the quilt was made as a gift or just for the family, where her fabric had come from, a little history of the type blocks used in the quilt, how long it took her to complete it and any other ‘story’ she wanted to relay to them. As she finished the story of each quilt, she and a helper would then pull the top of the quilt to the bottom of the bed so the next quilt could be seen. They would continue to pull each quilt off, telling story after story as it related to each item until all her quilts had been displayed.
Popular patterns for quilts ‘back then’ include some of the favorites we see today; Log Cabin, Dresden Plate, Double Wedding Ring, Grandmother’s Fan and an occasional Crazy Quilt hand embellished with ribbons, embroidery, jewelry and more.
It was a fun afternoon and refreshments were served while the ladies buzzed about all the pretty quilts they had just seen.