Life of the Mill Girls


In my spare time I enjoy quilting. I’m pleased to share that I have a quilt in a museum exhibition at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. The show opens November 15th and sounds like it will be inspiring, delightful and diverse. This is our inaugural exhibition in a museum so we’re quite excited!
The New England Quilt Museum asked quilters to interpret how Lowell could inspire them to create in fabric. You can see my answer to this challenge in the photo. The corresponding artist statement reads:
I am a fiber artist. I have been sewing since I was old enough to lace a shoestring through a cardboard sewing card. Today I enjoy quilting for pleasure and sewing for my business that caters to pastors and churches. My work usually tells a story.
I find contentment in researching, contemplating and designing a new piece. Once I am comfortable with the design, I dive in and become very focused in the actual production.
“Inside the Life of a Mill Girl” grew out of reading about the young women who headed to work in the mills with great anticipation of how their lives would be changed. The symbols represent the bell that rang for every step of their grueling work schedule. The shuttle and the saw tooth borders symbolize the type of work that was performed amidst much machinery. The oil lamp stands for the dangerous working conditions in the mills. The promises made of a safe life with healthy meals and a regard for high moral standards are characterized in this quilt’s boarding house and church steeple. Lastly the steps of picking, carding, spinning, warping and weaving are graphically included to complete this piece.
The accomplishments, courage, and independence of the young mill girls are something we can learn from and be encouraged to apply to our lives today.

I think we can easily find inspiration in the story of the mill girls who went to work to earn money for their struggling farm families, tolerated work conditions that did not promote a joyful environment, yet diligently went to church, loved to read and appreciated the arts.