Sunday, October 28, 2018

Princess Feather Medallion Extravaganza

Detail of a quilt by Susan Theresa Holbert Lawrence
Collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Here's one of the great American quilts.
It's not only beautifully stitched and composed, it seems unique---the only quilt in that pattern---
a complex sunburst sprouting 16 feathers.

There are distant relatives from the mid-19th century:
Princess feather designs in the center of a medallion surrounded by applique.

Dallas Museum of Art

Michigan Project

But most of the applique medallions aren't really close.
And, in fact, many of them seem to be unique too.

American Museum of Folk Art

This looks like a crib quilt but it is 80" x 78"

The Kovals' Collection

Unique-er and unique-er

Mary King
DAR Museum

UPDATE: Julie Silber sends another.
And this week I did a post on my CivilWarQuilts blog about Princess Feather medallions:

I guess what these have in common is a central medallion and a great exuberance.

See more about early princess feather medallions:


  1. That first quilt, the Little Sister Quilt, is a favorite. I believe Wendy Whellum reproduced it beautifully. I’ve attempted to reproduce this myself. That center star is a real challenge, as well as those tiny 4” stars.

  2. The (a)symmetry in the first quilt caught my attention.

    The feathers in the top half point right, the feathers on the bottom half point left.

    The single birds on both sides face down, while the pairs of birds on the top and bottom face out.

  3. Yes, great exuberance and amazing improvisation.
    'Modern quilters think they have an edge on improv, not so!

  4. Barbara!
    "Looks like a crib quilt"... is that a color bias because of the use of pastels?
    I fight this every day.
    "men don't wear pink", "men don't want floral quilts"