Friday, February 2, 2018

Sunflowers & Chintz

From Stella Rubin's inventory.
About 1820-1840

When I dream about getting really good at piecing I dream I will make a quilt like this.
Sunflowers of chintz.

Setting shapes in the quilt above were cut from this popular chintz.

Here's a great sunflower from the Rhode Island Project
using a variation of Swainson's Palm Tree print.

Sunflowers and chintzes: Apparently patchwork fashion in the 1820-1840s. The busy quilts give you a glimpse of decorating taste at the time.

Collection of the Marquette Regional History Center.
Michigan Project & the Quilt Index.

Documenters dated it to last quarter of the 19th century
but I'm confused. It certainly fits in with the earlier style and

The link:

Like those above it's based on a set of a circle and a squeezed
square rather than a block set....

Circular sunflowers connected with a shape that fits between.
Here in white.

On the diagonal but like Mary Orgain's below.

Quilt signed and dated 1818 Sterling and Mary Orgain
Texas quilt project & the Quilt Index.
Made by Mary Elizabeth Jones Orgain (1801-1878)
Collection of the Briscoe Center

Tastes change and fashion for patterned chintz gave way to more interest in patchwork pattern.

Mary Esther Hoyt Smith's quilt from the Connecticut Project
might be considered transitional taste.
Busy sunflowers and busy chintz confined to square blocks.

See the Connecticut book for photos of her quilt.

Here's the chintz Mary Esther used.

From Jeffrey Evans Auction

Sunflowers may be confined in this masterpiece but some are still busy, busy, busy.

It's a fight between the patchwork and the print.

You can see how a look this distinctive could become old fashioned.

As calico became the thing.
Mid-19th-century taste from Stella Rubin's shop

By Catherine Bennett Tandy, from Mary Barton's collection
Iowa Project and the Quilt Index

From a Pook & Pook Auction

Nice enough, but awfully tame if you love the tension
 between patchwork pattern and printed pattern.

Field of Sunflowers by Gabrielle Paquin

 You might want to make a quilt inspired by the early examples as Gabrielle Paquin has done.

It looks like she used a block

If you want a period look with an all over design (shows off the chintz better)....

Find a Sunflower in a block pattern you like.
This one is BlockBase #3480.
Print templates for the desired size. Instead of cutting the corner shapes as
they appear, fold your chintz fabric in quarters adding seams along the curves and outside edge but
not the lines on the fold.

William Morris-ey

There is also a pattern for a reproduction made by
Carol Gilham Jones in my out-of-print book
America's Printed Fabrics. Carol's is pieced over paper arcs.


  1. These chintzes are beautiful. Love the scrappy look of the quilts, especially the one from the Jeffrey auction. Thanks for showing the close up images. Wow. Takes my breath away.

  2. These sunflower blocks are amazing. I enjoy your blog and information SO much. Sorry that I do not comment more often.

  3. I had no idea there were so many of these quilts! This design is a favorite of mine, I've bookmarked this post to view again and again. Thank you!

  4. I had an opportunity to view the Dobler quilt a few years ago when the late Mary Sauerteig loanedit for a local exhibit in Brevard, NC. It is quite impressive and unfortunately photos do not do it justice! I hope it is well cared for!