QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Cretonne Quilt Backs

Embroidered wool quilt with large-scale floral cotton back

The other day somebody asked: How old is this quilt?

I said:"Looks like a very common solution for a backing in the 1880-1930 era, a large scale furnishing called a cretonne at the time. Here's a similar idea."


Undated crazy quilt with cretonne backing

There was disagreement. Virginia:
"About 1910.... have not had quilts with that kind of backing cross my work table [earlier] than 1900."

Julie: "Thinking back on other quilts ... I too 'felt it' as likely early 20th century."

SS 1914 dated on the back


Debby sent a link to this log cabin to back up the 20th century theory.

Humph! says I: I'll collect pictures I've got of cretonne backs on dated quilts and show you 19th century.

Like this wool crazy dated 1889 

Wool string quilt dated 1906 on the top
 with 1970s fabric on the back

But I realized pretty quickly that the date on the front of the quilt and the date of the backing fabric could be quite different. And I didn't have enough examples to really tell us anything much.

Now, friends, here's one I feel pretty good about:
Dated 1894 on the top with a cretonne back, cretonne border and
cretonne in the patchwork.


Of course, it's not wool....

And that's about all I got. I looked at quilts dated 1880 to 1930 and apparently I have been wrong, wrong, wrong in assuming that quiltmakers used cretonnes as backing when American-printed cretonnes were first being manufactured, which I assumed was about 1880---I may be too early on that guess too.


I might be able to wiggle back to 1893 when this commemorative for the World's Fair in Chicago was printed.

A few more undated examples: Probably 1910-1930



We'll call them early 20th-century.

I see by the comments that I did not explain cretonne well enough other than ''large-scale floral cotton."  A narrower definition might be a large-scale floral cotton, produced in the U.S. after 1880. Fabric quality varied.

Here's a link to a post:

5 comments:

swooze said...

Love reading your blog. Do you have a pic of the front of that first embroidered quilt you show?

Anonymous said...

What is Cretonne?

MissPat said...

Thanks for the link back to the earlier post. I, too, didn't know what cretonne was.

QuiltGranma said...

the Crazy Quilt I inherited had cheater cloth on the back of Mariners Compass. It has shattered silks, wool, and cotton with lots of embroidery, roses, etc, and every seam seemingly a different pattern of embroidery and different colored flosses.

Joy Branham said...

Cretonne was fabric for curtains or slipcovers. It makes sense to recycle it into quilt backings when it became a little faded or you wanted to redecorate.