Monday, September 5, 2022

Quilts Dated 1944



This Iowa friendship quilt is dated 1944---after the introduction of dress print commodity bags in the late 1930s so the prints as well as the solids and whites could all possibly be from feedsacks. 1944 was the fourth year of World War II---cotton as yardage very hard to find. Just by the context of the date we might guess the fabric is recycled sacking---but it’s a guess.

I have photos of 25 quilts dated 1944.
The file dated 1934 has twice as many.

I remember Nebraska farmer Ernest Haight telling me how he’d go to the store nearly every day during the war, hoping to find new cottons for his patchwork. 

E H with old-fashioned taste dated a Bear's Paw with
Turkey red thread

Somehow she had enough true Turkey red to finish this quilt.

Can we call the style old-fashioned or classic?
The popular album design going back 100 years
in up-to-date dress prints.

The problem was that cotton and cotton fabrics were going to supply the war.


The shortage seems to have gotten worse after D-Day and other European victories as the U.S. concentrated on the War in the Pacific. Dr. Claudius T. Murchison was the industry's spokesperson during the War.

An imaginary feedsack for Dr. M.
Director of the Cotton Textile Institute during the war.

Nebraskan Mrs. Heitz didn't get why she was forced
to buy feed she didn't want when, "You can't buy material to
make a house dress."

The reason: The government had declared sacking for feed, fertilizer and other commodities a necessity while yardage for clothing was a luxury. A certain amount of printed yardage went to the bag manufacturers---bolts of cloth for the dry goods department not a priority.

But if it was important, people found a way:

Collection of the Dorcester Historical Society
 True Blue Class of Spedden Church Dorcester County, Maryland

The style may look old-fashioned but this quilt honoring men in the Army and Navy is dated 1944. Sue Reich uses the term Roll Call Quilt to describe these name quilts listing soldiers and sailors.

Sue Reich Collection
Newport, Texas, 1944

A few of the popular patterns made with prints.




Two from the Quilt Index

And another pair

Amanda Snyder from the Oregon project,
a version of McCall's Dresden plate

Karen Alexander's collection.
Crib quilt, sort of a tile quilt, making the most of tiny scraps

4-H Club News 1944

Two fancy appliques:

1944 with the name E Sterling Marsden

American Museum of Folk Art Collection
Eva D. Rex, 1944 from a Mountain Mist pattern

Here's a great scrappy quilt:

Ray & Claire Vlasin collection & the Quilt Index
Dated 1944

Pretty spectacular for the middle of a fabric shortage.
I bet she had access to fabric from a clothing factory---
cut-aways of stripes.

I haven't seen a name for the pattern.

Print this out on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet. See
the inch square for scale.

From the mid-20th century.

Blocks on point from BlockBase


  1. I wonder if some of the quilts dated 1944 were UFO# tgat were dug out and finished up due to the shortage of new fabrics.

    The 8-pointed star is lovely.

  2. The unusual rather wonky crib quilt which is dated and signed "1944 Donald" in the upper left corner is from my collection. The quilt measures 50 x 33 inches and is machine quilted. The
    embroidery work around each pieces is handsewn and the dges are
    turned and handsewn. I sent you the photo in 2010. Glad to see you share it on your blog.

  3. Very interesting.