Unknown Artist, vicinity of Albany, New York
Unknown Quilter, Maryland
Possible Artist, Rebecca Scattergood Savery
Mary C. Baxter Kearney
Unknown Artist (1990)
African American Slave Story Quilt—Former Slave Harriet Powers (lived 1837 – 1911)
These Quilts are great examples of LINE, SHAPE, PATTERN, REPETITION, MOVEMENT/RHYTHM, POSITIVE/NEGATIVE SPACE, RADIAL BALANCE, and SYMMETRICAL BALANCE. Any or ALL of these Basic Elements and Principles lend themselves well to being taught with this Packet.
Quilt tops can have beautiful and artistic PATTERNS. Most quilt squares use REPITITION (the same SHAPE, or same COLOR repeated over again in each square) to create an interesting PATTERN for a quilt top.
Alternating REPETITION of DARK VALUE and LIGHT VALUE COLORS in the rings of the Sunburst Quilt create a sense of MOVEMENT and RHTHYM. With its concentric rings of GEOMETRIC diamond SHAPES, the quilt is also an example of RADIAL BALANCE—the design moves out to the edges from the center.
Ohio Star, Ocean Waves and Commemorative Patriotic Quilt are each examples of SYMMETRICAL BALANCE. Folded in half, each side of the quilt is roughly a mirror image of the other. Commemorative Patriotic Quilt is an example of RADIAL BALANCE as well.
Bird of Paradise is an example of ASYMMETRIC BALANCE.
The individual squares of the two Album Quilts are the most vivid examples of POSITIVE/NEGATIVE SPACE. The plain, LIGHT VALUE background fabric is NEGATIVE SPACE. The abundant and colorful appliquéd plant, animal and human SHAPES sewn in each square are POSITIVE SHAPES. Note how the bright appliqué decorations move forward in the design and the solid LIGHT VALUE backing moves away and is hardly noticed.
Quilts are still made today because of the limitless artistic designs that quilt artists can create. Even with paper, these creative designs spark imagination and exercise mathematic skills while seeming only to be fun!
Be sure ALL 9 pictures are returned to the Packet Carrier after your Presentation is finished.
The Art of Quilts
What is a Quilt?
A quilt is a warm bedcover. It is a “cloth sandwich” made up of three layers—
• A patterned top
• A filler of cotton or wool batting
• A backing of plain fabric
The three layers are joined together by small stitches in a design over the entire quilt.
Today, it is simple to go out and buy a bedspread in a store when we need one. Years ago, people had to make everything they used. Instead of blankets, early American colonists and pioneers had to make hand-sewn quilts. Because cloth was hard to get, people used every little scrap and wasted nothing. Leftover fabric scraps from sewing projects, dressmaking, or worn and outgrown clothing were saved in a scrap bag.
In most early American homes, scraps of cloth from the scrap bag were cut into GEOMETRIC SHAPES and pieced (sewn) together to make interesting quilt square designs. GEOMETRIC SHAPES allowed even small scraps of fabric to avoid being wasted. Sometimes, these GEOMETRIC designs were given special names by the quilter who first created the PATTERN and the design was passed down from generation to generation.
Quilt tops can have beautiful and artistic PATTERNS. Most quilt squares use REPITIION (the same SHAPE, or same COLOR repeated over again in each square) to create an interesting PATTERN for a quilt top.
Quilting is still done today because of the limitless artistic designs that quilt artists can create.
There are three basic types of quilt tops:
• PIECED quilt tops are made of cut fabric pieces stitched together end-to-end to form quilt blocks, which are then stitched together to form an overall pattern. Most pieced quilt tops feature REPETITION of straight edged GEOMETRIC SHAPES.
• APPLIQUÉD (AP lick kayd) quilt tops are made of SHAPES cut from one fabric and stitched down on another fabric with a fine hemming or small buttonhole stitch. Most appliquéd quilt tops have designs with curved or rounded edges—flowers, birds, animals, wreaths, portraits and scenes from daily life. Most of these SHAPES are ORGANIC SHAPES (natural shapes).
• WHOLE-CLOTH QUILT tops are made of a single piece of fabric, often stitched in elaborate patterns and shapes. Usually, these quilt tops are made of a solid fabric and not a patterned fabric so the artistry of the intricately stitched pattern can be seen best.
Both pieced and appliquéd quilts are often called patchwork, or scrap quilts.
Over the years, the PATTERNS used in Quilt making have been given names like Sunburst, Evening Star, Log Cabin, Tree of Life, Ocean Waves, Wedding Ring, Flower Garden, One Patch, and Nine Patch. Inspired by folklore, religion and nature, these PATTERNS were passed down from one generation to the next, traveling with pioneers and settlers as they moved west across America.
Today’s quilters still copy many of these favorite PATTERNS. Modern quilters have created names that are more contemporary but many of these modern quilt PATTERNS are based on traditional PATTERNS, using just a few creative changes.
A Pioneer Quilt Artist
Close your eyes and imagine for a moment that you are one of the pioneer artists who created the quilts we will see today.
The time is about 1850. The place is rural Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland or the Midwest. You are a young girl, aged 14, practicing the craft of needlework, which you learned when you were about 7 or 8. You have been taught… “Idle hands make the devil’s work,” so you are constantly stitching or appliquéing lap-sized patches that will be sewn to other patches to make a family quilt.
One hundred years from now, your work will become the focus of museum and private collections. People will pay thousands of dollars to buy the work of your hands. Because you are performing a job that is expected of women, you rarely sign your work. However, the years it may take you to finish just one quilt, will not be in vain. You will pass down, through generations, the craft of piecing fabric, appliqué, and quilting.
If you came to the New World from Europe, you brought with you a tradition of quilting that would become less European in style and more artistically expressive in design, as your years passed in America. If you came to America from Western Africa, you also brought a tradition of quilting, but your COLORS were bolder and the PATTERNS less linear than Anglo-American quilters.
As an early American young woman living during the 1800’s, many of your social activities revolved around the activity of quilting. When a young woman became engaged, family and neighboring women would gather to create a dozen quilts to announce her engagement. If a new Pastor came to a congregation, or a family moved away to a new town, you would present them with the gift of a quilt. When the boys in your family became men, or finished an apprenticeship (or job training), you would give them a quilt created with your own hands because of your love and best wishes for their future.
If you were an early American young woman and lived in or around Baltimore, Maryland, between 1840 and 1860, you would create some of the most magnificent and prized of all American quilts, The Baltimore Album Quilts. You would stitch a patch or two of your own, or reproduce one that was designed by Mary Evans, an active Methodist churchwoman, now recognized as the “queen of quilt designers”. Then, you would join your patch of elaborately detailed appliqués with others, to create an “album” design finished quilt.
By the beginning of the 20th century, emphasis on quilting declined, not to resurface again until the 1930’s. By the time of the American Bicentennial, in 1976, museums and private collectors would search for your quilts, proclaiming them “works of art”, a true reflection of the creative accomplishments of American women!
Today, quilting is once again popular. Individually artistic seamstresses, quilting guilds, and church groups are organized to create these beautiful pieces of needlework. You can find quilters as young as 10 or 12 and as old as 90. While more mature quilters may use traditional patterns passed down through generations, others are using contemporary themes and modern geometric designs that are bold and colorful. Yet, these quilts remain meticulously crafted examples of American art.
Bird of Paradise Album Quilt Top
Artist unknown, from the vicinity of Albany, New York
Appliquéd cotton, wool, silk and velvet on muslin
About the Artist
Quilt making was an activity that American girls traditionally began at a very early age, almost as soon as they learned to sew. In her book, A New England Girlhood (1889), Lucy Larcom wrote of her childhood in the early nineteenth century, when learning to sew began with learning to read: “We learned to sew patchwork at school, while we were learning the alphabet; and almost every girl, large or small, had a bed-quilt of her own begun, with an eye to future house furnishing. I was not over fond of sewing, but I thought it best to begin mine early.” Usually, by the time girls were married, they had hand sewn thirteen quilts. In many communities, it was customary that the thirteenth quilt became the bridal quilt, the most beautiful and intricate one of all.
This Bird of Paradise quilt top was given to the Museum of American Folk Art along with the newsprint and paper templates (patterns) that were used to make the beautiful birds, flowers, people and animals that decorate it. The dates on the newspapers tell us that the quilt was probably made about 1860. These templates also tell us something about the history of the quilt and the person who made it.
In the paper patterns, you can see a man and a woman, the bridegroom and the bride. Now look carefully at the quilt. You can find the woman in the top right-hand box, in the center of the quilt. There is no man in the square next to her, or anywhere else in the quilt. Flowers are sewn into the square where we would expect to find the man or the bridegroom. The curators at the Museum of American Folk Art believe that the man may have died fighting in the Civil War (1861-1865). This is the top of a bridal quilt and may have been made in anticipation of a wedding that never took place. After stitching the flowers into the square, in memory of her fiancée, the maker of this quilt top folded it and never finished it. That is, the quilt top was never layered with batting or backing and sewn together, to make it thick. This beautiful and historic quilt is all the more memorable because of the touching and sad personal story it reveals about the unknown quilt maker.
The old photograph—a daguerreotype—is believed to be a picture of the maker of the quilt. It was found in the same attic where the quilt was stored. Another clue is that the hairstyles in the two representations (the quilt and the photo) are similar. Who the woman was remains a mystery.
If you study the designs in this quilt for a few minutes, you will understand why the quilt has been named the Bird of Paradise. The many pairs of birds and animals in the quilt are symbols of courtship, love and marriage. Paradise might refer also to living “Happily Ever After” with the bride’s intended groom.
Can you find the horses? Notice the names—Ivory Black, Black Hawk, Flying Cloud and Eclipse—popular racehorses during this time of American history.
Can you find the elephant, named Hanible, in the quilt design? The Circus was popular in the 1860’s. Many exotic animals, such as elephants, were seen in small towns where the Circus stopped.
Are there any CURVED LINES in the design of this quilt? Plant stems with leaves are almost all curved.
Can you find any DIAGONAL LINE? Peacock square and Bird of Paradise square
Do you see HORIZONTAL LINE? Are there REPEATED SHAPES? Many shapes are repeated because most objects were created in pairs, duplicate flower and fruit shapes line the border
• Create a square of an appliqué quilt on white construction paper using glued, cut wrapping paper or wallpaper with a patterned design resembling fabric. Squares could have animal, people, flower or plant designs. Study the designs in this quilt for ideas. All squares could be displayed together to create an entire CLASS quilt.
Thirty-two Birds Album Quilt
8’2” x 8’5”
Unknown Artist, Maryland
This quilt, from Maryland, is called an Album Quilt. This style of quilt was popular around Baltimore, Maryland between 1840 and 1860. The famous Baltimore Album Quilt design originated with Mary Evans, an active Methodist churchwoman of Baltimore at the time, now recognized as the “queen of quilt designers”. Album quilts are some of the most prized of all original 19th century American quilts.
In the early to mid 1800’s, Baltimore, Maryland was the third largest city in the United States and had some mighty fine needlewomen in the population. Many of these women were active in the Methodist church and two of them, Mary Evans Ford and Achsah Goodwin Wilkins, were the best stitchers of the group. Today we are not quite sure just how it came about, but these women and probably many others, especially in their church group, made some of the most spectacular appliqué quilts the world has ever seen.
Baltimore Album Quilts were based on block designs, but not patchwork—they were appliquéd with many, many tiny pieces of new fabrics to form flowers, leaves, fruit, cornucopia, elaborately twined baskets, wreaths and other symbols of goodwill, joy and fertility. Sometimes boats, local emblems and symbols of Baltimore political or social significance were included. These small appliqué pieces were stitched, with tiny neat stitches, to a light background cloth then quilted all over with careful, uniform stitches. The quilting stitches, sewn with matching background thread, give dimension to the quilt and create subtle PATTERNED LINE and TEXTURE.
These quilts were “Special”, due to the extra fine fabrics used and they happened to be about the best way to show off the incredible needlework skills of the quilters. They might be gifts for a bride (or a groom) or a gift to the minister or the minister’s wife, the mayor from the town or a favorite teacher at school on retirement. Some Album Quilts mat not have all been quite as elegant as the Baltimores, but they were all an honor to receive and may be seen today in museums in categories such as Presentation Quilts, Bride Quilts, and Groom Quilts.
Look closely at the quilted stitching LINES of the red striped quilt border. What type of LINE has been created with the quilting stitches along the border? Zig zag, but kids need to look closely and to understand you are not meaning the straight red and white LINES of the border
The quilt top was made of individual squares. Once the appliqué work was finished on each square, they were sewn together to create a solid quilt top. Because the background of each square is the same, it is hard to see the individual squares at first. Besides each square having the same colored background, what else did the quilt maker do that seems to camouflage the individual squares? Many of the birds were appliquéd to the quilt after the squares were sewn together. We can tell this because they are seen in at least three, and mostly four, corners of the squares
Are there any examples of REPETITION in the quilt design? The pineapples in the four corners of the quilt, the yellow, red and orange flying bird SHAPES
Are the appliquéd SHAPES mostly GEOMETRIC or ORGANIC? Animal, bird, flower and plant shapes are natural or ORGANIC SHAPES
Sunburst Pieced Quilt
Possible Artist: Rebecca Scattergood Savery, from Philadelphia, who lived 1770-1855
In the days when quilts like this were being made, the tasks of caring for a home and family filled up so many hours, most women had very little leisure time in which to express their creativity. Many women channeled their inventive talent and creative imagination into quilt making. The women who created the most striking quilts that have come down to us, may have been brilliant artists in other mediums (painting, drawing, photography etc.), if they had lived today, with our many time saving appliances and convenient stores.
Hundreds of hours were spent composing quilts, from bits of fabric accumulated by the quilt makers, and kept in scrap bags. One piece might be from a favorite dress, another from a child’s bonnet—reminders of the times when these clothing items were worn. A 20th century writer on quilts quotes her great-grandmother as saying, “My whole life is in that quilt. It scares me sometimes when I look at it. All my joys and all my sorrows are stitched into those little pieces.”
Quilts are very appealing because of the marvelous variety of COLORS and designs and the intricate workmanship that go into their creation. In cutting and assembling the dozens of small pieces of fabric, the quilt maker makes many artistic decisions. To combine COLORS, SHAPES and PATTERNS to achieve a pleasing effect takes very careful artistic planning.
What SHAPES did this quilting artist use? Only diamonds
Are these SHAPES ORGANIC or GEOMETRIC? Geometric, organic shapes are natural shapes like flowers, leaves or animals
This quilt is a masterpiece! The diamond-shaped patches, which are 4½” long, were cut from at least 30 different printed fabrics dating from 1835-1840. A pattern of colors radiates in concentric (circles inside of circles) rings from the eight-pointed star in the center of the quilt. The design seems to pulsate like sunbeams moving outward from the sun. What type of artistic BALANCE does this quilt design have? RADIAL BALANCE the design radiates out from center
How did the quilt maker create MOVEMENT in the design? Alternating REPETITION of dark and light COLORS in concentric rings of diamond pieces
There are over 2,880 diamond patches in this quilt. Imagine how long it took to sew all of these patches together! Remember that each patch is only 4½” long and was sewn to the next one by hand! Each patch had to be placed perfectly, since one small mistake would throw the entire PATTERN off. There are 6-8 stitches to the inch in this quilt. If you could look at the stitches closely, you would see that each stitch is almost the exact same size and the stitch lines are extremely straight. Neat needlework is important on a masterpiece quilt such as this.
☺ Let the class discover that straight and uniform hand stitching requires a lot of practice. Give everyone a small 4” rectangle piece of fabric, a needle and thread. Have them measure and mark the inches on the fabric lightly with a pencil. Then draw a straight horizontal 3” LINE across the center, using a ruler and pencil. Measure inch marks along the line with a ruler. Challenge everyone to sew 6-8 stitches between each inch mark and to make each stitch a uniform size. Challenge kids to keep the stitches very straight. When finished, discuss results and share opinions. How many stitches to the inch did the class average? Did most of the class manage to follow along with straight stitching? How long did this exercise take each person? Multiply this number by four to see how long it takes to sew in one diamond. Multiply this number by 2,880 individual quilt pieces to see how long it would take each of them to sew this quilt by hand.
• Create the eight-pointed design of the center of this quilt, using two colors of diamonds. Arrange the diamonds so that you have two concentric rings of the sunburst shapes, in two different COLORS. Cut diamonds from colored paper, wallpaper or wrapping paper. Glue to a contrasting color background.
• Create a different RADIAL BALANCE design, using octagons instead of diamonds. This type of quilt design was called the “Flower Garden”, “Grandma’s Flower Garden” or “Honeycomb”.
Commemorative Patriotic Quilt
Artist Mary C. Baxter Kearney, New Jersey—c. 1898
After the Revolutionary War, as Americans celebrated their new nation, there was a swelling tide of patriotism. National pride was more intense than we can imagine today. This love of country is reflected in the paintings, sculpture, needlework and pottery of American folk artists. A whole vocabulary of patriotic symbols has evolved, among them the American flag in all its versions, the bald eagle, Uncle Sam and Miss Liberty.
As you look at this quilt, you can see that it was designed as variations on the theme of the American flag. The outer frame of navy stripes with thirteen stars on each side, the red and white stripes, and the five-pointed stars on a navy background—all elements of the flag that give this quilt strength and beauty.
The making of flag quilts increased during times of national crisis and triumph. According to oral tradition, the Spanish-American War (February-August 1898) was the inspiration for the making of this flag quilt. In addition, the admittance of a state into the Union was always an occasion that turned the minds of quilt makers toward the flag theme.
Can you see any examples of REPETITION? Stars and small flags are repeated SHAPES, repeated LINES are red, white and blue, repeated COLORS
What type of artistic BALANCE does this quilt have? RADIAL and SYMMETRIC BALANCE, the design radiates out from center and each side is a mirror image of the other
What Patriotic SYMBOLS can we see on this flag? Stars, stripes, flags, shield, patriotic COLORS
• Give kids red, white and blue construction paper to create a large (12×18”) patriotic quilt. They could make a variation of a flag quilt, which is pieced and appliquéd. They could cut out patriotic symbols and shapes (like Uncle Sam) and put them on a plain colored background like an appliquéd quilt. Tissue paper or wrapping paper often comes with patriotic stars printed on it and would add a lot of interest to the quilt design. Photo album paper can often be found in a star pattern. Some schools have die cutters and dies in star SHAPES. If your school has a star die, cut an assortment of red, white and blue stars for the kids to use. Cut strips of red paper on the paper cutter beforehand and glue these to white paper.
• Create star stamps by gluing yarn or heavy string to a square of corrugated cardboard. After the glue has dried (preferably the next day), use the star stamps and straight strips of cardboard to create patriotic print designs in red, white and blue. Use a brush to paint the edges of the strips (to print lines) and the yarn (to print stars). Rearrange and create printed variations of PATTERN using LINE and the star SHAPE.
• Color or paint the flag coloring page. Trim the excess paper around the flag. Cut the colored page into geometric SHAPES. Glue these shapes to a red, white or blue background to create a quilt PATTERN. Cut additional solid color geometric shapes to include in the design if you like.
The Ohio Star is a variation on the traditional Nine-Patch quilt. This quilt was made in 1993. It is an example of how one modern quilt artist used a traditional Quilt square PATTERN handed down through several generations. Some modern quilt artists try to find modern fabrics that resemble the original fabrics used a hundred or more years ago. Other modern quilt artists use bright and colorful modern fabrics, which were not available in pioneer days.
What type of BALANCE does the quilt have? SYMMETRICAL, if folded in half each side is a mirror image of the other
What types of GEOMETRIC SHAPE did the quilt maker use? Squares and triangles
Is the quilt made with mostly WARM COLORS or mostly COOL COLORS? Cool
• Make copies of one or some of the variations of the Nine-Patch Quilt square. Use crayons, markers or colored pencils and create colorful Quilt designs in the geometric SHAPES, to make a SYMMETRICALLY BALANCED PATTERN. It is important to remember to use a pattern in coloring the squares because entire quilts are made with many squares created with the same repeated pattern.
• Create a Nine-Patch square, like one of the pattern variations, using cut paper. Alternate solid colors with wrapping paper or wallpaper (4 of either solid or patterns, 5 of the other).
• (Grades 4-5) Give everyone fabric squares in a solid color and a coordinating print. Let kids arrange the squares into a Nine-Patch PATTERN. Sew the patches together by hand then back the Nine-patch square with a larger square of fabric to create a small pillow.
A modern quilt artist created this quilt, in 1990, but it is a traditional pioneer pattern. The Ocean Waves quilt was created by pioneer quilters to use up small scraps and odds and ends of leftover fabric. This was an effective way to keep from wasting any usable fabric. Leftover remnants, from several years of quilt making, found their way into this quilt.
What SHAPES were used for this quilt? Square SHAPES were cut diagonally, to make triangle SHAPES.
What type of BALANCE does the quilt have? SYMMETRICAL
Many different types of fabric were used. The solid Center Square is 6”.
Victorian Crazy Quilt
This quilt is made of irregular scraps of fabric that are hand stitched together in the Crazy PATTERN developed in Victorian England and popular in American during the second half of the nineteenth century. Many early Crazy quilts were made of luxurious materials such as silk, velvet, satin and brocade. The random PATTERN is a flexible and thrifty way to construct a quilt, allowing small scraps of any size or SHAPE to be used. The design of the quilt is worked in an overall PATTERN, instead of in squares as so many quilts are made.
What type of SHAPE has the quilter used for her PATTERN? Random FREEFORM SHAPE, each piece of fabric is shaped differently than the rest
To the Victorians the word “crazy” not only meant wild but also broken or crazed into splinters, a good description of the look the various triangles and other odd shapes gave to these quilts. Although crazy style quilts may appear haphazard, they were carefully planned. Hours were spent cutting shapes and trying out various arrangements of the pieces before sewing. The following quote from an 1883 article in “The Chester Times”, Chester, Pennsylvania, gives an idea of how Crazy Quilts were made:
“If your pieces are of good size, and all fresh and handsome, one way is to cut out blocks of cotton cloth, either square or diamond-shape. Cut enough blocks to make the quilt the desired size, then paste on the pieces of silk, satin, or velvet; lap the edges and turn the upper one under; then cover every seam with feather-stitch, cross-stitch, or any fancy stitch you can invent. “
Early quilts made in the crazy style were more show pieces than functional and were often made as smaller unquilted “lap robes” that were used to decorate the parlor (living room). They were fitting showpieces for the lavish interior decoration of the day. What a perfect way for women to show off their needlework skills! Using silk thread, women placed lovely decorative stitches on each seam. Intriguing names like feather, herringbone, fly and chain describe just a few of the intricate embroidery stitches. A great variety of stitching styles and embroidered motifs are found on these quilts. Animals and flowers seem to be the favorite embroidery themes. Some quilters believed that embroidering a spider on its web would bring good luck to the quilter. Crazy quilts occasionally included embroidered verses and information recording family events. Often the name or initials of the quilter were decoratively embroidered, as well as the year the quilt was finished. The imagination and skill of the seamstress was the only limit!
Can you see how the seams of each piece of fabric are covered in a huge variety of different types of decorative embroidery stitching? Also, notice how each different piece of odd shaped fabric has at least one object embroidered on it.
A poem has been embroidered on a white piece of fabric, towards the right edge, near the center. It reads:
There is so much good in the
worst of us.
And so much bad in the best
That it scarcely behooves
any of us
To talk about the
rest of us.
Does anyone know what “behooves” means? Behooves means proper, ethical, worthwhile or moral
So, what is this poem saying? Everyone has good and bad qualities and it is not right to talk bad about anyone because we all have the same faults that we may condemn in others. Nobody is better than anyone else, even the best of people having their own faults.
Do you think this is good advice? The poem is one that 19th century girls used to practice embroidery stitches with on an embroidered “sampler”, as part of their daily school lessons.
Two quilters have embroidered their initials and the year that the quilt was finished. What year is embroidered on the quilt? 1897
Can you find the two sets of embroidered initials? Where are they? H L D on the bottom, far right—M E M in the far left bottom corner
This quilt has many embroidered plants and flowers. Can you see any familiar plants or flowers that you recognize? Plants include strawberries, cattails, wheat (or seeded grass)—Flowers include rose, rose buds, sweet peas, tulip, carnation, daffodil, water lily, daisies, pansies, fuchsia, Black-eyed Susan, and many more
There are no animals embroidered on the quilt but a butterfly, one embroidered Blue Bird and two owls are included. Can you find an embroidered butterfly, a Blue Bird and the two embroidered owls? Butterfly is on a blue rectangle, near the top center, next to the wheat (or seeded grass). The blue bird is on the far right, embroidered on a yellow triangle just below the center. Owls are above the blue bird, on a FREEFORM piece of bright pink, to the far right (both owls are upside down)
What additional embroidered objects can you find? White fan (lower left side), white anchor (top center), a Paisley SHAPE (near bottom, left of center), blue heart with pink flowing ribbon (bottom right next to the initials H L D), musical notes
A quilt with this much embroidery work on it would take a long time to finish.
Originally, these quilts were made by those women in the wealthy classes who had the time and the money for the expensive fabric. Before long, other women got in on the fad and found ways to make their own crazies. Some were made from the fancy clothing of the day that had been discarded or passed on to less wealthy relatives. In addition, packets of silk scraps from mills and factories were sold inexpensively through mail order, making this style of quilting affordable for more women.
After 1900, women adapted their crazy quilting to using such fabric as flannels, denims and other cottons. They did not always put decorative stitching on these quilts; instead, they were often simply pieced. This is why there is such a great variety in antique crazy quilts.
The Quilting Party
Quilting was an important and useful skill for early Americans. The Quilting party or Quilting “Bee” was often a social gathering for the entire community. This picture probably shows a scene for a young woman about to be married and the women have gathered to help her quilt her last quilt top.
Can you see the big quilt that the women and girls are sewing? It has been mounted on a “quilt frame” and takes up most of the area of the room
The quilt is stretched on the frame so that the fabric is even and tight. This way, when the quilt was stitched, the fabric would not pucker as all three layers (top, batting, backing) were carefully and artistically stitched together.
Did only the women of a community attend a “Quilting Bee”? Everyone in the community attended. It was a time for visiting with neighbors, sharing good food and fun. In the Quilting bee pictured here, it was also a time to share good luck wishes with the couple that will soon be married.
Can you see any young people who might be the likely “engaged couple” for whom the Quilting Bee was arranged? If you look at the young man, in the bottom right corner, you can see that he and his “sweetheart” are holding hands under the quilt top. The young man standing at the other end of the table is handing a bowl of goodies to a young woman who is smiling at him.
Can you find a cat? Why is the cat alarmed? A dog in front of the older man’s feet has seen the cat and sits ready to attack
Do you see the young toddler? What is he doing? In the FOREGROUND, eating an apple
Can you find the two babies? Sitting on the white haired man’s lap, left FOREGROUND, and laying in the woman’s lap who is seated in the FOREGROUND at the end of the quilt frame
Can you find a LINE PATTERN in this picture? The ceiling beams and floor panels create pattern, the blue and green aprons of the two women closest to us on the quilt frame, the toddler’s clothing (foreground)
What type of PATTERN does the quilt have? Black and red checkerboard
What COLORS are repeated? Red, yellow, green