top of page

Labor Day SALEabration!

In the 19th century, labor activists pushed for a day to recognize workers. Now, we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of every September. This makes for a great cap to the end of summer and the perfect opportunity to do a big sale...but more on that after some quilt talk. Did you know there are quilts about Labor Day? Crystal King, (our resident historian :) (she hates that title) did a little digging and found some amazing quilts that showcase our daily labor. These are quilts from historical memorials to portraits of daily labor. I hope you enjoy another neat part of history that involves quilts.

Portrait of a Textile Worker was designed by the visionary artist, Terese Agnew in 2005. She spent two years collecting clothing labels for this project.

She stitched together thirty-thousand clothing labels, over two years, to "make one person among millions of unseen workers, visible." I'd say she succeeded.

Tribute to the Mohawk Ironworkers was made by the Indian artist, Carla Hemlock. It depicts ironworkers sitting on an I-beam hanging over New York City. This quilt has been added to the American Women: Remarkable Objects and Stories of Strength, Ingenuity, and Vision from the National Collection at the Smithsonian.

The quilt is made from cotton cloth, glass beads and beads, sequins, cotton thread, nylon thread, and metallic thread. It's a combination of sewing, pieced, appliquéd, overlay beadwork, raised beadwork, and quilting.

Visionary artists and quilters depict historical labor in fabric. Sarah Joy Ford is one of the artists who uses textiles and archival research to preserve history. She made Islington Mill to commemorate the 18 workers killed in the collapse of the Islington Mill, in 1824, in Manchester, England. The names and ages of the lost workers are written on the blocks.

Explaining the important elements in the quilt, she said, "The motifs in the quilt pattern include cotton spinning wheels, which many of the workers would know well, while the illustrations are of the mill itself, based on an original etching of 1824, the ever-present clouds over Salford, and an image of the Salford Cross, the beacon of old town life which was taken down the year of the accident." What a tribute to these workers! They will never be forgotten.

ILGW was created, in the 1980s, by members of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Local 23-25, in New York City. This quilt features the union's cultural initiatives under the direction of Kathy Andrade.

Labor Arts Inc. wrote: "The quilt itself represents an extraordinary example of women of diverse ethnic backgrounds using their after-work hours to not only sharpen up their sewing skills but also to demonstrate the union's potential as a source of cultural achievement."

Threads of Life, designed by Laurie Swim, was made in 2003 in Canada. This quilt is a memorial to thousands of workers killed or injured on the job who are between the ages of 14-24. It commemorates 100 young workers killed on the job with individual, personalized blocks. The middle block honors young workers injured on the job.

The Farrier by Paula Batterman-O'Dowd was published in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine Sept-Oct 2008. There's something so sweet about this farrier shoeing a horse, and the detail in the quilt is amazing!

The Triangle Fire Memorial Quilt is part of the Workers Memorial series by artist, historian, and quilter, Robin Berson. One of the deadliest fires in US history, it caused the deaths of 146 garment workers: men, women, and children.

Many of our workplace safety laws came out of this tragic event. Text on the quilts includes beloved labor songs and quotes on the rights of workers.

Blossoms, A Tribute to Women in Fabric by Peggy Fetterhoff. This quilt is a celebration of women in all walks of life.

I love the closeups of each block which show women in different periods. Aren't these fun? The artist wrote, "Traditions in America's melting pot are about change. As each ethnic group is integrated, women blossom with the knowledge that they can be anything they want to be. Cultures are merged, creating new traditions."

I hope you enjoyed our tribute to labor in these amazing quilts. What stories they tell!

In honor of Labor Day, we are having a great big sale. Anything you can fit into your cart is 20% off until Monday, September 4th, at 11:00 pm, PST. That's patterns, kits, yardage, rulers.... anything! You don't have to use a coupon code, your whole shopping cart will automatically be 20% off! Thank you for your encouraging comments each week and ongoing support of this little labor of love business :)

Happy Labor Day everyone!


Follow all my quilty adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Visit my YouTube channel for free tutorials and tips. If you like my patterns, you can buy them on Etsy, and here on the website.


Related Posts

See All

Why Not?!


bottom of page