QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT

QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT By Quilt Historian Barbara Brackman Above: Moda's Baltimore Blues

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chintz Borders: The 9%

Quilt date-inscribed 1881
An outlier, part of the 9%.

A couple of weeks ago I did a post about chintz borders as a clue to a quilt's age.

Quilt date-inscribed 1844

In that post I quoted my Clues in the Calico book


"Of 35 quilts in the database with borders of large pieces of floral chintz 32 (91%) were dated between 1800 and 1860."

But what about the 9 percent after 1860?

The triangles in this charm quilt have the characteristic, black, blue and gray color scheme popular
in the 1890-1920 period, but the border of large-scale furnishing fabric seems an anachronism.

After 1880 quilters were most likely to use calico-scale fabrics
for borders if they added borders at all.

Late 19th century with no border


Late 19th century with calico border

After 1870 you start seeing an emphasis on small pieces and a variety of dress-scale size prints
rather than on large-scale fabrics.

Late 19th century with
Calico pieced border


Crazy quilt about 1900 with cretonne backing

Lots of large-scale fabric was available but if quilters used it at all they were likely to use it on the reverse of the quilt.

So a chintz-scale border is a pretty good dating clue to a date before 1865---
91% of the time.

Double Four Patch probably mid-19th century

How to tell if the quilt above is early or late 19th-century?
You have to rely on the fabric.
There are differences between furnishing prints in 1830 and 1880
and the Quilt Detective has to learn to recognize them.

Quilt bordered with a cretonne
About 1880-1900

The later large-scale prints were called Cretonne in the vernacular.
They have color schemes, drawing styles and printing styles different from earlier chintzes.

Chintz patchwork from the first half of the
19th-century.

Cretonne from the end of the 19th century

Color is a good clue---many end-of-the-century prints used a distinctive pink, tan and golden brown palette
The black background here is also a clue.You just don't see true blacks as backgrounds in cotton prints
till the very end of the 19th century.

See a post I did about cretonnes here:


Drawing style is a subtle clue too.
This painterly style design just looks too modern to be
1860s or earlier.




1 comment:

WoolenSails said...

That really helps to help in identifying earlier quilts. The use of black is what will stick in my mind, so something to look for in old quilts I see.

Debbie