Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Quilts from AQSG

A mid-19th century strip quilt from the Quilt Complex booth
At the American Quilt Study Group seminar you get to see lots of antique quilts in the vendors' area and the formal shows. There's also a show and tell one night.
And there's an informal show and tell going on all the time, where people will pull a quilt out of their bag to get some expert opinions. Marian inherited the quilt above but it isn't really a family quilt, somebody collected antiques. We'd corresponded about the pieced pattern.
which isn't in BlockBase.
There's not even anything very close.
Those below
BlockBase #3924 and 3927
aren't nearly so complex.
The quilt is date-inscribed 1843 and MAY be one of a kind.

There are applique blocks in the corners, then a grape vine border with a dogtooth final border.

There's one strange gray leaf framing those love birds.
I looked close to see if it was a repair because you don't see much actual gray in 19th-century quilts, but that is the original rainbow-shaded print. It shades from gray to almost black---the exception to the rule that grays and black cotton prints tend to be after 1890.
Marian pulled ANOTHER quilt out of the bag---this one alternating a triple floral with an appliqued sunflower. The sunflower looked to be layers of dogtooth petals---circles slashed and turned under.

Her question: In my Clues in the Calico and other books on dating fabrics I say that greens fading to tan tend to date a quilt as after 1880 when synthetic dyes were quite unreliable.
But the quilting on this one made her think it was from before 1880---it just looked like it was more mid-19th-century than late-19th-century.

There is heavy quilting with parallel lines in groups of four, lines very close together, something you just don't see much of after 1880. Is this green fading to tan an exception to the rule?
 There are exceptions and here's what might have happened here.
The greens were overdyed chrome yellow and Prussian blue similar to the greens in her other quilt, the standard mid-19th-century green, which makes a good green but it is very unstable. Alkalai solutions like laundry soap destroy the Prussian blue shifting the green towards a lime green, as in this grape leaf from her 1843 quilt. This is the common color loss in those overdyed greens.
Her other quilt has seen a lot of wear and washing. It may be that the chrome yellow has been destroyed by an acid solution---possibly very acid water or some acid laundry solution. With both the blue and the yellow gone you get a tan color.
So that's a possible explanation for the contrast between the clue in the color and the clue in the quilting. Another idea is that some quilter working in 1890 hung on to her old needlework standards---quilting the top in old-fashioned close quilting. But I am inclined to go with my first idea. Marian had figured that out too---the rules are general; there are exceptions. You don't often see the overdyed greens fading to tan, but it happens.


  1. Hello Barbara,Thank you for sharing this, it's the kind of happening antique quiltlovers in Europe miss so dearly... Hoorah for internet,itallows us to participate a little bit, the quilts are breathtaking, Will in Paris

  2. I love that star. It's easy to draft. And not too hard to piece, with templates.


  3. I love that quilt and the fabrics. I would love to do something like that, but I need practice on my points.