Monday, November 8, 2010

Separated at Birth

It's always fascinating to come across a pair of quilts that are similar. How is it that two quilts residing in farflung collections today look so much alike?
The four-block applique above has been studied by Connie Nordstrom who has found more about 30 examples of the block. This pair came from the Skinner Auction site. They were auctioned three or four years apart. The combination of block plus border makes one wonder....

A pair of four-block quilts with similar odd blocks

Merikay Waldvogel has found several of these wreath designs in Tennessee. The one on the left is from the Winedale collection at the University of Texas; the one on the right from an on-line auction. She's concluded the pattern was a regional design, handed from Tennessee quilter to quilter. Quilts and pattern were carried west to Texas.

In the 20th century we can guess a commercial kit or a pattern is involved.

Garden Poppies, a Bucilla kit

But in the 19th century before commercial patterns were published, the mysterious pairs invite all sorts of questions. The makers must have known each other. Or perhaps one maker made two quilts, or it may have been a regional pattern. Or…

The blogger WillyWonky has posted a virtual paper on just such a pair. It's virtual in that he might have presented it for October's American Quilt Study Group Seminar. Here's what he would have done...

Anna Catherine Garnhart's 19th century quilts are so recognizable that 11 have been documented.
On the left one in the Brooklyn Museum; on the right in the Museum of the Daughters of the American Revolution. But the Brooklyn Museum has the one at the left attributed to someone else. Here's a virtual paper for someone.


  1. Amazing quilts and stories. Our quilting world is so large because of the internet.

  2. I was in Houston last week and was on one of the quilt store tours when the tour guide asked if anyone knew about the twin quilts. Apparently her grandmother was not a quilter but gave all the leftover fabrics from clothing, curtains and such to a relative who made two quilts each time she received fabrics from this lady. She kept one quilt for herself and gave the other quilt to the lady who gave her the fabrics. Many years later the tour guide and her mother found one of the quilts in an antique store in Houston and the mom immediately recognized the fabrics as pieces of her dresses and kitchen curtains etc. They did not buy the quilt at the time and still wish they had. The story came to my mind while reading your blog. Sylvia in B.C. Canada

  3. We heard that story about a pair of quilts being made during the Kansas Quilt Project. One woman had the money for the fabric; one woman the time to make the quilt, so the quiltmaker made two identical quilts, one for each. They called it Quilting On Shares. We still do it in my sewing groups, although our attention spans aren't long enough to do two identical quilts.

  4. I have thought that some of the repeated patterns in applique may have be seen at a Fair ladies put on during the Civil War or at a state fair. Without photos, someone copied the pattern by drawing it. Maybe they sent to drawing to someone they knew who loved applique or made one themselves when they got home. Somehow the memory and the drawing were just a little different than the original which
    shows in the variations. Bonnie

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  6. Thank you for the plug! It's a wonderful story. A mother-daughter reunion of sorts.

  7. Sorry for the multiple posts.

    Today's blog relates:


    Bill Volckening
    AKA Willy Wonky