International Women’s Day and Textiles

moz screenshot International Womens Day and Textiles


NPY quilt1 1024x682 International Womens Day and Textiles

Mimi Leung with the quilt created by members of the NPY Women's Council in Australia (Emma Sleath for ABC Local)

International Women’s Day was observed on Tuesday, March 8. There’s so much I want to say that I think I’ll just jump in.

First of all, I am grateful to have been born during the second wave of the women’s movement and to have been raised by feminist parents. I am grateful that I can choose to quilt because it appeals to me among a wide range of hobbies and activities that are available, and not because it is expected that this is one of the few things I am able (not to mention permitted)  to do. I am grateful, especially in a down economy, that I can combine my interest in quilting with other skills and experiences to have a career and provide for my family. (Once again, thanks, Bonnie Leman!)

I just learned, thanks to the Want It, Need It, Quilt! blog out of Australia, that International Women’s Day is inextricably linked to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the 100th anniversary of which is coming up on March 25. This is perhaps the most tragic example of how women’s history is often tied to textiles.

One of the things I most appreciate about quilting, and about QN’s focus, is how it contains the anthropological record of women’s lives and tells the stories of their roles as homemakers and community builders. This tradition flourishes today with quilts being used to tell stories both personal and social. A few examples of 2011 IWD events that incorporated quilts include the following:

Again, there’s just too much to say on this subject, and I’ve spent too long on this blog post as it is (we’re mighty busy around these parts lately!). Women have come a long way in the past 100 years, but there is much work left to be done, from maternal mortality rates to sex trafficking to supporting families and communities through microloans. All I know is that I am grateful for those who have come before, humbled by those who continue the work now, and mindful of my responsibility to pass on what I’ve received.


Tulsa quilt International Womens Day and Textiles

Women lay hands on a quilt to pray and sing during an event called Join woMEn on the Bridge on the Pedestrian Bridge on Tuesday. MIKE SIMONS/ Tulsa World

About Mary Kate Karr-Petras

Mary Kate is an associate editor at Quilters Newsletter.
This entry was posted in Mary Kate Karr-Petras and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to International Women’s Day and Textiles

  1. nora says:

    This is beautifully written and contains interesting info. Thank you. I had no idea that the horrendous factory fire was linked to International Women”s Day.
    Keep up the excellent work, you can be proud of your abilities and accomplishments—terrific !!!

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