Sunday, September 2, 2018

English Applique #4: Comments & More Thoughts

From a Christie's Auction

All the comments have inspired me to do another post on the free-form/unconfined applique style to mention three points.

Hexagon center with a border of Portuguese stripe chintz
and outer borders of free-form applique.
[The Portuguese stripe alternates floral
containers and exotic birds---popular chintz
in the 1825-1850 period.]

From an online auction

1) I have been focusing on style---I study these quilts in photographs so I rarely notice the stitches that hold down the shapes. But I now know, thanks to all the commenters, that in many the free-form applique shapes are secured with a herringbone stitch, often done over raw edges.

Herringbone stitch explained here:
Americans used herringbone stitch in their crazy quilts after 1880---but that is a different style.

Herringbone stitch barely visible in the photo

British quilt from the Poos Collection
with a free form center

Many of the applique quilts with good detail photos seem to be
stitched down with conventional applique stitches, however.
So the stitch doesn't define the style; it's linked to it.

Looks like a regular hidden applique stitch on this tile quilt
from Jane Lury & David Hupert.
Another associated style characteristic is rather random shapes
of chintz ---cabbage left over from other projects?
Tile style.

Bedcovering from India. I don't know date or source
but the style is familiar (and quite appealing.)

2)  The unconfined appliqued style seems to me to come directly from Indian applique style.

Indian applique, circa 1930---similar work being done today

From India through many European threads of needlework tradition

British bedcover from Kerry Taylor Auctioneers

1852 signed Lucy Hasell (?)
Age 62
Wish I knew the source of this one.

3)  There are some early-19th-century quilts fairly reliably attributed to the U.S.  in similar style.

Ann Robinson's quilt in the Shelburne Museum

I've done a couple of posts on the American versions.

It's all a good excuse to post more pictures, which may inspire some people to take on just one more new project. It looks like the prep time for the applique is minimal, Wendy. You cut out the shape; you toss it onto some background. You stitch it down. I may take it up myself.

And as I write this I realize I have---but I have been turning the edges under. More tomorrow.

Here's one that Julie Silber showed---she's the one
who started the whole discussion.
The border looks to be rather free-form

Dated 1874, for John Adkins, Maryland quilt in the DAR Museum.

1844, Durham, center of a patchwork field
From the collection of the British Quilters Guild

Similar center from one in Woodard & Greenstein's inventory.
More tomorrow on this one.

Documented in the South Africa project
From the Quilt Index

See many details of this one at the Copake Auction site. Sold in America. The applique IS confined to blocks of sorts, so it may be a British-American hybrid.


  1. Just lovely examples of these quilts--I really like the idea of just appliqueing all over --willy-nilly-ish--sounds like a very fun and freeing type of work..thank you for sharingthese lovely works..gosh I love that chintz--hugs, Julierose

  2. Thanks for this, as always, Barbara. The Shelburne Museum currently has the Ann Robinson quilt on exhibit. It alone is worth the trip to Vermont this summer/fall!

  3. Have you seen the work of Margaret Sampson George from Australia? This is her style today.

  4. Be still my heart! I am having such fun reading about this quilt style that I have been noticing for years.

  5. I love the perfect embroidery at the edges, extremely neat - even going around curves. Very lovely quilts to see with all the random placings!

  6. You're so right - it is very tempting to start yet another quilt. This style looks like a lot of fun.

  7. I want to thank you for all the study you have done and shared with us here.