In this paper, we interpret the meaning of contemporary quiltmaking by characterizing how the collective activities of quilt guild members have structured women's understanding of quilt tradition. Ethnography offers a methodological orientation by which meaning can be interpreted by analyzing the sociocultural context of the guild and considering the quilters' perspective. We analyze a particular example of “feminine culture,” Minnesota Quilters, Inc. The guild community is important to individual expression, and members' activities provide evidence about a socialization process by which individuals draw upon a collective knowledge of quilt tradition to express themselves. Women's statements about their quilts refer to the significance of quiltmaking in the expression of personal experience. Three components of the discourse suggest that quiltmaking facilitates a woman's increasing integration within the quilting community and appropriation of traditional values: identification as guild member, characterization as quilter, and affirmation of female identity.
- female identity