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While it is true that many women were weaving their own fabrics in the early 1800's, the tremendous time and energy needed to produce hand woven goods was generally not put into a luxury such as a quilt.A home weaver would be more likely to weave a blanket or coverlet.Reliable permanent dyes were widely available in the mid 1800's.However, green was considered fugitive - it often washed out or faded.Cotton was not readily available - the cotton gin was not invented until 1793 - and so the majority of fabrics used in clothing were linens, wools and silks.What you might have seen prior to 1800 were quilted petticoats, worn for warmth.Walnut hulls, hickory nut hulls, clay, or wood chips made brown.A deep brown with warm accents was made using manganese.

The oldest quilts in the Smithsonian collection go back to about 1780.Quilts were almost always made of wool, unless they were remade from bed curtains or quilted petticoats.However, the idea that all early quilts were made of worn clothing is a myth.Sumac, birch, oak, woodshed in general and iron made black.Indigo blue and turkey red were very reliable dyes as they were made by the process for which the color was named.

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