Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Red and Green Antique quilt/coverlet.

 This red and green applique coverlet is obviously not English. It hails from the USA. I got lucky when the seller on Ebay mis-described it and also put it in the wrong section. At the time I knew diddly poo about dating and I still know very little. Again I got lucky and a group of American textile ladies were over here and assured me it was 19th century. I was amazed because I had put that green as early 20th century. (I should have bought a lottery ticket on the same day....) Again this is laid out on my six foot wide bed so you can gauge the size. It has those double swags round three sides and is hemmed on those sides without a selvedge edge. 

 Each of the six large blocks consists of four quarter ones made in opposite pairs. One pair has a bud (looks more like a lollypop to me) in the corners whilst the other has a flower.
 I imagine this woman worked in isolation. She saw some similar work, wrote down some ideas and instructions and then worked all by herself. Why do I think so? The stems are so thick and heavy looking for one thing. I suppose she was advised to cut those stems on the bias. What she had not realised was to applique the inside curve first and then let the outside curve stretch out to accomodate the extra length. So poor woman was left to carefully gather in the excess fabric on each of the inside curves of each stem. (One wonders why she kept so doggedly to a method which clearly was not working for her.)
 Again the ketchup to give you colour adjustment for the photography. I am assuming Heinz might change the spelling of ketchup throughout the world but not the colour?
 She ran into different problems at the corners but she had taken heed to mitre the corners.

 Now this is where it got very interesting for me. On four of the smaller blocks were slits in the back. I recognised these immediately. My own work sometimes has these slits. See below.

I made these slits to remove my three layers of freezer paper. Now obviously freezer paper was not yet invented when this coverlet was made but I can only conclude she had some paper or card behind her shapes to assist with the applique (it is easier to turn against a firm edge). I know this is silly but this discovery made me very happy. I felt connected to the women who made this.
And like me she gave up on this method and went back to just turning the shapes back without the assistance of a foundation.

My book on Chintz Quilts arrived last week. It is so very good. No patterns just pages and pages of glorious chintz quilts and coverlets and close ups of the fabrics.
It is a big tome, 320 pages of quality paper. It is bilingual in French and English.
 I just opened it up at one quilt randomly and show it and the close up.
If you love chintz, old quilts like I do, you will also be in heaven. I would say this is now my best and most favoured book in my library.


  1. What an interesting read, Sally! I enjoyed the pictures of your lovely coverlet, too :)

  2. Love the softness of the colours in the quilt. I think my friend has some similar green in her stash. Have fun with your book.

  3. The red and green coverlet is lovely. So interesting to discover methods of working!
    I also ordered the book, can't wait to see it...!!!

  4. Hi Sally, what a find! I am loving these pics. And yes, crazy for chintz, I will have to buy this book myself!

  5. Another fascinating find. I do so love looking at the process like can can with the unfinished tops and speculating on methods. Are you sure that is a green that has turned to blue? (At least it is showing very blue on my screen while the ketchup is reading correctly). I have an 1850's large scale applique that used blue for all the stems and leaves - no question about it. Apparently that was a thing at one point.

  6. Fascinating to see these old quilts - do you use them, or just keep them to admire?

  7. Hi Sally how I enjoyed looking and looking at that lovely old quilt, the colours have not faded much at all by the bright red fabric. Thanks so much for been so generous with taking so many photo's of the quilt so we could enjoy it too. Cheers Glenda