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"Squares and Bows" Quilt

Arester Earl, American, 1892 - 1988

Made in United States, North and Central America


Cotton and polyester; running stitch

7 feet 2 inches × 6 feet 11 3/4 inches (218.4 × 212.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
The Ella King Torrey Collection of African American Quilts, 2006

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Arester Earl, the daughter of a preacher and farmer who owned over one thousand acres of farmland in Covington, Georgia, learned to quilt from her stepmother and older sisters. Widowed in 1942, she returned to quilting in the late 1970s after raising five children. Her unusual style-individually stuffed and quilted blocks sewn together with oversized stitches-was developed out of necessity. Partially paralyzed along one side and with failing eyesight, Earl was unable to work at a quilting frame, so she would spend a day cutting fabric and would quilt while lying on her back in bed, often working through the night. She took great pleasure in quilting. In her words, "It means life to me."