Friday, February 22, 2013

Washington Bicentennial Quilts

Today is the anniversary of George Washington's birth in 1732. In 1932 the Bicentennial of his birth was a national celebration, inspiring a few quilts.

Washington Bicentennial Quilt
by Carrie A. Hall
Spencer Museum of Art

Much of the Washington imagery in the 1930s focused on the charming story of his chopping down a cherry tree when he was a child.

A myth that painter Grant Wood celebrated in 
"Parson Weems's Fable" in 1939

Do note that George looks the same at 6 in the painting as he does on a dollar bill.
Read more about the painting at the Amon Carter Museum website:

The idea of the cherry tree, the hatchet and the honest child persists although it was a story made up by Parson Weems pictured at right above.

I've been collecting photos of quilts made during that Bicentennial celebration in the early 1930s. This top may be one of a kind.

Here's a detail of a similar idea, better executed, from Cindy's Quilts.
Click here to see the whole quilt:

Detail showing the hatchet and a cherry tree

The Louisiana Folklife Project documented a quilt called "Our George's Cherry Tree," possibly from the early 1930s.  The detail is fuzzy but it's a rather graceful cherry tree with a hatchet floating around....See it at the Quilt Index site here:

And years ago collector Donna Stickovich sent me this one.
I still don't know what to make of it.
I can't imagine this was a commercial pattern.

Center of Carrie Hall's quilt

Click here to see Hall's quilt at the Spencer Museum site:

She used a published pattern by the mother/daughter team of Lydia LeBaron Walker and Mary Evangeline Walker who had a needlework column in the early thirties.

Their Cherry Tree is #838 in BlockBase

The center applique, the gray hatchet border and the trees were part of the Walkers' design, as was the blue patchwork border, which they called Washington Pavement.

The Walkers also did another Washington pattern called Tree and Truth

#3278 in BlockBase...
 in case you ever want to make one.

Read more about the Walkers at Wilene Smith's Quilt History Tidbits website:

Here is another odd design to remember George:
The George Washington Cherry Tree from Sophie LaCroix in 1916.
Blockbase #850

This weeks' Grandmother's Choice pattern blog discusses another meaning for the hatchet image. Click here to read about Carrie Nation and her "Hatchetations."

Happy Birthday, George.

And don't forget to check out the Moda Quilt-Along Blocks for today, February 22, 2013.

Kaari-French General

Lynne-Kansas Troubles

Kate Spain 


  1. I love the hatchet quilt, that is such a fun piece.


  2. Those are some crazy blocks--I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they don't turn up in Grandmother's Choice!

  3. Is the includion of the cherries the only thing that keeps these aptterns from being Carrie Nation hatchets?