The story behind quilt patterns depends on the quilt, but many were developed for either utilitarian or aesthetic reasons. Some patterns had symbolic meanings as well and often represented major themes in the developers' lives.
A common theme in 19th-century quilts is the star, which is both an attractive pattern and one that has symbolic meaning. Pioneers used stars for navigation, and the star also has religious significance in the Christian faith, which most pioneers followed. There are many variations on the star pattern in quilting due to its popularity. The God's eye pattern was another one inspired by Christianity.
Another popular quilt pattern was the log cabin, which has a central patch of fabric surrounded by layers of thin strips. This represented the rustic log cabins that many homesteaders lived in, and it was cherished because of its connection to family and home.
Crazy quilts were primarily a utilitarian pattern. Enterprising women used scraps of diverse fabrics that had been used to make dresses, curtains, trousers and coats to create a quilt.
Friendship quilts are another famous quit pattern. These were often done by a group of women as a going-away or engagement present for a friend. The women worked together to create a distinct quilt and usually featured each quilter's name embroidered in the portion she had made.
Many quilts also featured artistic patterns inspired by natural events such as growing crops and flocks of migrating birds.