While quilting was done by those who could afford to buy imported fabric, ordinary women in early America spent their days spinning, knitting and sewing just to keep their families in clothing. Lower grades of imported linen and wool were available to almost everyone but the silks and cottons used for quilts were expensive.
It wasn't until there was widespread production of affordable textiles around 1840 that more women found time and plentiful fabric for quilt making.
I believe this Colonial quilting myth was encouraged during the Colonial Revival and renewed interest in quilting that occurred during the early 20th century. Many magazines and books of that period wrote about Colonial quilting as if it were a fact.© 2003 Judy Anne Breneman
For more information go to Colonial Women ~ Quilters or Not?