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Janice Frisch on T-shirt Quilts

A note of congratulations for Janice Frisch on the completion of her M.A. in Folklore. Her M.A. Thesis, recently accepted by the faculty, is titled Scrapbooks in Fabric: Memory, Identity, and the T-shirt Quilt. It is a wonderful study utilizing ethnographic methods in the study of contemporary U.S.  material culture. It is particularly valuable in the ways that it situates t-shirt quilts relative to the areas of (1) dress and adornment, (2) quilts and quilt history, and (3) scrapbooking and other practices associated with hand-made memory objects. In her abstract, she writes:

Historically, in the United States, clothing that was worn beyond repair was used in quilts in order to salvage the still usable parts while creating another useful item. Modern quilters, however, generally purchase new cloth to use in their quilts rather than cutting up old clothing. Fairly recently there has been a trend towards constructing quilts out of still wearable clothing items, such as t-shirts. This form of quilting is both a continuation of past practices and an innovation. In today’s society these quilts are a medium for the expression of personal identity and memories. This thesis draws upon existing literature on body art, material culture, memory, and identity as well as original fieldwork to examine the rapidly growing phenomenon of t-shirt quilts and connect them to the larger history of quilting, dress, and collecting in the United States. [Frisch 2010:vi]

Looking ahead to her Ph.D. work, Ms. Frisch will be continuing her studies of quilting this summer at the Smithsonian and several European museums. Congratulations to her on the completion of an important M.A. study.

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