Thursday, August 9, 2012

Show Off Piecing: Borders

Compared to Rose Trees seen in the last post on Show Off Piecing this pieced love apple is postively do-able.

The fruit is pieced; it looks like the stem and leaves are appliqued.
From the way the green is fading to brown I'd guess 1880-1910.

Here's another example---rounder. It's probably a little earlier, the quilting is closer, the green color is less fugitive and it has a border.

Is the border pieced too?
Pieced borders are the ultimate show-off piecing.

Dealer Laura Fisher sent a photo of a pieced rose from Tennessee with a swag border that also looks to be pieced. Notice that shape in the corners.

The dots are appliqued atop the swags pieced into the background. This mid-19th-century example is quilted with stuffed work (trapunto), another indication of a Tennessee quilt. Tennessee quilters did a LOT of stuffed work.

Here's a possible pieced border  from the Quilts of Tennessee files on the Quilt Index. Couldn't find a picture of the whole thing but here's the link:

And a similar quilt I saw about ten years ago in an antique shop.
The swags and even that loop in the corner were pieced into the background. Talk about a Show Off.

There's a tiny embroidery stitch of thread, once green that's faded to white, linking the bud here to the swags in the corners.

Most swags are appliqued like the one above. Sometimes these triple swags are pieced together and then appliqued down.
But that's not really showing off. To be a real show off you have to piece the whole border into the background.

I'd like to see this online auction quilt closer. Those are the type of buds that could be pieced in.
I can't even imagine the kind of pattern that was passed around hand to hand in the 1850s.

Another online auction photo. Those looped corners on a Whig Rose---the border may be all pieced. One clue---it doesn't sit flat.

 I'm not going to try it. So much can go wrong.


  1. But think how great it would look if you got it right! I love the "roundness" on the second quilt. Thanks for the education this morning!

  2. Wow! That's amazing. I can't imagine the skill it would take to piece swags into the border! It's definitely out of my league. Thanks for bringing these to our attention. Great post as usual!

  3. I can't imagine piecing all these curves into a background - or why? It certainly would be an extreme challange of one's cutting and piecing skills!!!

    It had never occured to me that any of these old applique appearing quilts would be done in this way. Thank you for sharing the info!

  4. Do you ever get tired of hearing how wonderful your posts are? Once again - amazing! What some women do with a needle - crazy.

  5. I don't think I'll be showing off any time soon. I wonder if the women who did this type of work were full time seamstresses and had the talent to create fancy work done on clothing at that time. A lost art to be sure.

  6. I really like the rounder apples, those are doable and a nice design. I do better with round edges, I am horrible with points.