Saturday, May 4, 2019

Cut Out Corners

The New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts recently showed Bed-Post Corners: ​Quilts Made for Four-Poster Beds from the Permanent Collection

The show featured bedcovers with cut out corners...

Shaped to fit beds with posts at the foot as in this period
room from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"This feature is found more often in New England quilts than in those made in other parts of the country...."
So I looked through my picture files for cut out corners.

Quilt they showed last year from Henniker, New Hampshire

From a Maine quilt auction

Bet this one's from Maine too

Corner details from the  New England Quilt Museum

Above and below from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Shop inventory

On line auction

From Barb of Fun with Barb

Shelburne Museum
Pam Weeks points out that this one is constructed block-by-block,
what we call potholder style. The blocks are circular with a squeezed square
shape between them. That's why the cut-out is circular.

Dated 1833, Mary Marden, New Hampshire
 Pat L Nickols Collection, Mingei Museum 

Doll quilts

Jane Katcher Collection

When one sees a quilt with cutout corners one thinks New England,
but we can guess people made these wherever there were four-poster beds to cover.

From Mollie at Fourth Corner Antiques

Susan Pritchard Kirkwood, Charleston South Carolina, 1837
Collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum #2008.009.0001

In looking at chintz quilts I've found quite a few Carolina quilts with cutout corners.

The theory is that western immigrants left their four-poster bedsteads behind along the coast
and bought modern beds without the posts for their new homes.

Indianapolis Museum of Art Collection

This beautiful quilt with a fruit panel could be English...

Like this one from the collection of the British Quilters' Guild
(They had four-poster beds too)

I thought I'd look through the dated quilts file and show some circa 1800 American examples
but this is the earliest I could find

Glazed wool bedcover signed 1815 Lucy Arnold
from the Connecticut Historical Society

1818, Louisa Brigham 
(I'm not so sure this is an American quilt.)

1818, signed Turner, Maine Historical Society

Interesting that the earliest quilts have square corners. The cut out is a solution to the problem of bunched up bedding around the bedposts. But apparently it took a while to figure out a fix.


  1. I always like cut out corners, but maybe it's because I've always had footboards and can sympathize with the square cover bunching.

  2. I haven't made enough quilts yet, but today, trying to stuff a duvet around the end posts of the guest bed - I need to get cracking with a corner cut out! I think there's the pattern for the replica of a lily with cut out corners, forget which one though.

  3. Some of the quilts look like the cut out is rather sloppy! Did they make the cut out after the quilt was already completed?

  4. Hard to know. Standards weren't quite as high before photography.

  5. One of these chintz quilts reminds me of a question I've been asked recently and didn't know the answer to... Does the term "English paper piecing" mean that the form was 'invented' in England, or is it similar to "English muffin", a name applied by Americans to make it more exotic?

  6. I believe that those early Yankees cared less about the "bunching" problem and more about the fabric they were saving. They are still calling us "frugal Yankees".

  7. And, I think that the Maine State Museum has a few wool quilts with cutouts that may have dates before 1815. You can check with Laurie LaBar.

  8. English muffins, French fries, Dutch treat.