Thursday, June 24, 2010

Unknown Pattern

Years ago a friend bought this quilt, a pattern I couldn't find published anywhere. It's related to a Pickle Dish with similar arcs pieced of triangles (or almost triangles). But it has a completely different geometric structure, like a clamshell or fan quilting design.

Pickle Dish

See more about Pickle Dish on my June 14th post.

And click here at the Quilt Index to see a great Pickle Dish in the collection of the North Carolina Museum of History.

The quilt in the unknown pattern looks to be about 1880-1920 by the way the greens are fading from the light. Those fugitive green dyes tend to be after 1880. In the lower right hand corner some one has patched an area with a piece of 1930's Nile green. The chrome orange (what we call cheddar) is also fading and splotched, color loss often caused by washing.

The pattern doesn't appear in my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. For years I figured the quilt was a one-of-a-kind design but recently I found two more in online auctions.

This one looks to have been chrome orange and fugitive green too, although arranged in the opposite fashion. The dyes are really faded here, probably a combination of hard washing and too much sunshine.

Again this one looks to be 1880-1920 by the dyes.

Here's a later version---by the mixture of bright colors with white I'd guess after 1930.

And I noticed one in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. Click here to see it:
They call it Sunrise.

So what's the deal on this clamshell with triangles?

  • Is it a pattern published in a source obscure enough we pattern collectors haven't yet come across it?

  • Or is it a regional  pattern passed from hand to hand and never published?

I'd bet it's Southern. Quilt historians working with regional Southern patterns like Rocky Mountain, Whig's Defeat and Pine Burr have noted the prevalence of arcs and strips pieced of spiky triangles and diamonds in post-Civil-War Southern quilts.

Whig's Defeat, about 1880-1920.

There have to be more clamshell quilts out there.


  1. I love these, enough to make me want to make one. There's quite a lot of room for some great quilting as well.....

  2. Okay I have one that I call a clam shell that was from my G. Grandmother Nora. It does not have the pieced arcs though. Do not know a true name for it. I did a post on my blog about it last year. Lola

  3. Lola
    Your Grandmother's quilt is a pattern with a lot of names like Clamshell and Shell Chain. I'll blog on it next month

  4. I would love to make this pickly, clamshell quilt! If anyone knows of a pattern, please post about it! Hey Barbara, maybe a pattern in a future book??? I may have to draft this one! Thanks for the interesting post!

    In stitches,
    Teresa :o)

  5. Following your blog is like attending a university course on quilting history in the comfort of my living room. I love the way you pick up the topics of your posts and in a couple of paragraphs tell an informative and very engaging story.
    Thank you!

  6. Saw a tattered one of these at auction a few weeks ago here in Georgia...I may have it in a background photo....

  7. I took a photo of a scrappy clamshell/pickledish that was being used as decoration in a Paducah coffee shop during the show a few years ago. Would you like for me to send a photo of it to you? No one working in the shop knew the pattern name, but it is the first time I had ever seen this pattern. Someday I would like to make one, it is just a matter of drafting it.

  8. Do send photos. Email me at BBrackman@Sunflower.com. We'll post them.

  9. I popped by via Cathi, at Quilt Obession, I love those quilts, just gorgeous...

    Gill in Canada

  10. Barb, after seeing the "Clamshell Pickle Dish" patterns on this particular post I suddenly remembered one I had seen in red and white on eBay several years ago. Do you have a red and white one in your data base? I know I just saw the photo a couple of months ago in my files but can't quite find it now. I'll send a photo when I finally find it.

  11. As it doesn't seem to have a name, how about 'Pickled Clams'?

  12. Now you can easily make one of your very own with Inklingo. Linda just released the pattern this weekend - 6", 9" and 11"


    See her blog post about the new pattern here: