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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Antique quilts

The delightful Miss Sandy from Quill Cottage is hosting an "I remember Laura" Blog~A~Thon. If any of you are Laura Ingalls Wilder fans, this month long event is not to be missed. Over the entire month of June there will be an art swap consisting of four different projects. Each Monday will introduce a week long feature of a special "Little House" memory.

This week the "I remember Laura" Blog~ A~Thon is focusing on quilts. The history of quilting goes back to ancient Egyptian times. The piecing of fabric together was originally used for clothing. Beginning in the 15th century, whole cloth quilts such as this solid color quilt (or the more popular whitework) were often traded among the wealthy in Europe and Asia.

Quilt making as we know it today did not come into practice until the mid 19th century. Most Colonial housewives were occupied with spinning, weaving and sewing to clothe their family. Quilt making was reserved for the wealthy who had a bit more leisure time. They specialized in a form of quilt making called Broderie Perse. (French for Persian embroidery)
This was the applique of printed chintz flowers and other motifs onto a solid fabric. Chintz became available when a trade route from England to India was established. While early examples from the 1700's feature florals, later examples show the popular oriental influence as seen in this Broderie Perse quilt.


The industrial revolution brought about massive change in the availability of textiles. Women now did not need to spin their own cloth and commercial fabrics were financially affordable for most families. While some quilts were indeed made from the scraps leftover from other sewing projects, many quilts were made from fabric bought specifically for the quilt itself. At this time the block method was often used. Popular patterns were the Kaleidoscope, Nine Patch and Log Cabin as seen below.


Patterns were invented by everyday quilt makers and spread via friends, family and quilting bees. Quilt pattern books can be found as early as 1835, but became more common in the 1850's. Catalogs such as Sears and Wards offered patterns for a dime when cloth was purchased from their company.

Pioneer women had more of a challenge obtaining fabric for quiltmaking. When preparing to move westward, the women packed necessary linens to last two to three years. Friends and family members were all to aware that they might never see one another again. Quilts were often given to those migrating west to serve as a reminder for those left behind. The quilt and quilt topper below were made by my great~great grandmother for my great~grandmother who herself moved westward.


A favorite type of antique quilt is the album quilt which originated in Baltimore, Maryland. The album quilt contains pictorial images representing either the quilter or the intended recipients life. The quilt below was made to celebrate the 21st birthday of David Crowl between 1845~1848 by David's female relatives.

Another favorite is the Victorian Crazy Quilt. This quilt's popularity occurred between 1876 ~1910. It originated from the asymmetrical oriental art that was featured and adored at the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia in 1876. The crazy quilt was actually meticulously planned out using the finest silks, satins, velvets and brocades. Additions of embroidery and and other stitching styles added to the intricate designs. Those of less means created crazy quilts using cotton calico's, wool and any fabric they could get their hands on.
Sadly, the antique quilts that used silk are rapidly deteriorating. Here is a restored example from Stella Rubin.

Today, prized quilts are still bring created. Quilts such as Hawaiian, Tivaevae, and Ralli, as well as quilts made by the quilters of Gee's Bend, Alabama and the Amish are highly sought after by collectors.
For those who are collectors, as well as the curious, an outdoor quilt show will be held the second Saturday in July in Sisters, Oregon.

16 comments :

Denise said...

I LOVE the quilts made by your Great-Grandmother! Such pretty colors and fine stitching. Your history of quilting was so interesting. Thank you for sharing!

Carrie said...

Thank you for this very interesting and information review of quilt history.
Carrie - Oak Rise Cottage

Mica Garbarino said...

I love a piece of history lesson to pieces and items. Thank you for that. Your blog is beautiful!!! Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again throughout this blog-a-thon, Mica

vintage paper bella~andrea said...

Oh my gosh! I am ready to exchange blog links with you.I am the biggest little house on the prarie fan, i can tell you what episode each one will be within 5 seconds of it starting! I LOVE LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE! I love the quilts!

Jen R said...

Great quilts! Thanks for the heads up! I am a huge LIW fan! Jen R

Anonymous said...

I'm here from Miss Sandy's blog. I loved part 1 of her interview with you, and I can't wait for the other parts.
I discovered Little House in the Big Woods in my school library in
5th grade. I can't count the number of times I've read the books thru the years. LIW had a huge impact on my life. I love to read everything about her to this day. (I'm in my late 40's)
I'm so curious how you got ahold of family pics when you were raised in the foster care system-I hope that info. is included in your interview.
I'm so pleased to meet you, and am happy to have found your lovely blog.
Joanna in Ca.

Barbara H. said...

Thank you for this history! I have often thought if I ever made a quilt I might just have to make an album one since it would be so hard decide on just one pattern for the blocks.

ceekay said...

Hi Laura...you know quite a bit of history of quilts. I enjoyed reading the story on Quill Cottage about you! You have a wonderful heritage. Talk to you again soon!

craftydiane said...

Hi Laura,
Thank you so much for visiting my blog and admiring my quilts. I think it is just great that you are kin to Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love doing family history! I have been working on my own for years. We are having a family reunion on my father's side in a week and a half and I can't wait to get more info!
Have a Blessed Day,
Diane

Charli and me said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I absolutely loved reading your post. Thank you so much. I learned so many things about quilts I didn't know. I looked back on some of your post and found them so interesting. I will be stopping by again and again.

FrenchGardenHouse said...

What a great post. Please visit my blog and leave a comment, or email me = dumbo, I lost your email address. LOVE LOVE LOVE my prize!

xo Lidy

Michele said...

Very interesting read about the quilts and the history of them. I also really enjoyed the beautiful quilt pictures. I was, and still am, a HUGE Little House fan!! I LOVED all the books!!!

Michele
luvkittysmeowmail@gmail.com

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Just loved the history lesson, which was fascinating! What wonderful treasures you have all so unique and wonderful. Thank you for sharing them!

Thanks, too, for allowing Miss Sandy to interview you for the "I Remember Laura" event. It was a wonderful interview and I look forward to learning more.

Miss Sandy said...

Laura,
I loved your post on the history of quilts. It is an interesting an fascinating peek into this art form. Thank you so much for sharing your treasured quilt and your story with us.

Blessings,
Miss Sandy

Happy face said...

I finally got to read the interview with you. What a bio! I think you must look a great deal like the Ingalls family line. Thank you for the history of quilt making!

Beata said...

People should read this.