The quilt is an extended metaphor through the story as its piecing together symbolises the way in which Mrs Hale and Mrs Peters deduce the events surrounding Mr Wright’s death.
The quilt is a domestic item, understood and appreciated only by the women. They are mocked for their close examination of the project-
"They wonder whether she was going to quilt it or just knot it!"
There was a laugh for the ways of women,
And yet it is Minnie’s uneven stitching on the last pieces which reveal that her state of mind was agitated. As Mrs Hale touches them, she understands their significance-
The difference was startling. Holding this block made her feel queer, as if the distracted thoughts of the woman who had perhaps turned to it to try and quiet herself were communicating themselves to her.
The box with the canary in is hidden in te sewing basket, and it is only when the women are looking for fabric to take to Minnie to work on the project that they discover it.
At the end of the story, the women bear the taunts of the men about their evaluation of Minnie’s actions. The men do not realise how much Mrs Hale and Mrs Peters have uncovered, and there is a deep irony when the method of the quilting matches the method of the murder-
"Well, Henry," said the county attorney facetiously, "at least we found out that she was not going to quilt it. She was going to--what is it you call it, ladies?"
Mrs. Hale's hand was against the pocket of her coat.
"We call it--knot it, Mr. Henderson."