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African Americans have been quilting in North America since the late 18th century. Their ancestors, many whom traveled to this country by force, came armed with master sewing techniques passed down through generations of indigenous fiber artists from a number of cultures in Africa. Areas well known for their fine textiles and textile techniques range from the western region of Africa down to the Congo region in West-Central Africa. Piecing, appliqué, and embroidery techniques have all found their way to North America, where they continue to influence the patterns and styles of African American quilters.

The Historical Background

African textiles and textile-making skills came to the Americas through the transatlantic slave trade. For some enslavers, textiles were an additional form of income. Before ...

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