Saturday, November 7, 2020

North Carolina Scrap Quilts


    Quilt by Jimmie Queen Plott (1894-1990)

Jimmie's quilt looks like factory cutaways with shapes used as they were found, some organized into diamonds. Fabrics: woven checks, plaids and stripes, the common product of North Carolina cotton mills.

Jimmie's niece brought 8 utility quilts to a North Carolina quilt day in Junaluska in 1985. Her 90-year-old aunt was still living at the time. The documentors thought the quilts might have been made as early as 1900 but Jimmie Leon(a) Queen was born in 1894 and wouldn't have been old enough to make this body of work until the teens at least.

Jimmie was born and died in Haywood County
 at the edge of the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains....

way over in western North Carolina.

In 1917 when 23 she married George Fred Plott, a 31-year-old career soldier who was a captain in World War I with the 30th Infantry Division. Perhaps they married before he went off to Europe. 

It would seem then she made these quilt tops in the teens. Her niece thought she made them from the family scrap bag but this looks like a larger stockpile than one family, especially a family without children, could accumulate. Perhaps she found her fabrics as factory cutaways. 

One source might be the local Royle-Pilkington mill but they did not move their factory from New Jersey to Haywood County until 1928. That move reflected an industry trend to move to places that offered cheaper labor and less regulation, a move repeated 75 years or so later when the mills moved overseas and factories like Royle-Pilkington closed.

Several of the quilts were quilted by Margaret Shuping who must have been a prodigious quilter for hire in North Carolina. The Quilt Index has 135 quilts with her name associated. Margaret Shuping is a  common name in the area, so figuring out which Margaret she was is difficult.

Jimmie also might have found her scraps in a local dry goods store. In 1921 a
store in South Carolina advertised Quilt Bundles, rolls of mill ends and factory cutaways.

Most of Jimmie's quilts are backed with feedsacks homedyed
with quite fugitive dyes (perhaps packaged dyes in blue,
a popular color for dyeing quilt backs.)

This string quilt with strips pieced into six sided shapes is the
most organized of her eight quilts.

But then again it is outrageously disorganized at the bottom
Parts of the lower row are missing, filled in with a floral feedsack of the 
type one would see after 1930.
An interesting solution to a damaged top.

The backing looks to be a print on this one.
The quilting is the popular regional fan pattern.

Jimmie's niece told the documentors that her quilts were"made for cover."

And these two wool quilts look like they'd have provided plenty of cover.

Although wool and thick both are quilted in the fan pattern.

This one looks to have been stitched from men's suiting samples, perhaps
ripped out of a swatch book.

Jimmie lived in Waynesville, the Haywood County seat.

Husband George was stationed in various places, according to his obituary and Jimmie may have moved with him to Washington D.C., Illinois & Tennessee but their family home was one he inherited on Fairview Road in Waynesville.

Women like Jimmie did not leave much of a mark aside from their quilts. I did find that she was active in the local EHU (Extension Home Unit) the Fairview Home Demonstration Club. These groups were sponsored by the Department of Agriculture on a county basis to teach home economics (sometimes quiltmaking.)

George retired after World War II and died in 1963. Jimmie lived to be 96 but apparently her quiltmaking days were in her younger years.

See all 8 of her quilts here:

1 comment:

  1. Jimmie sewed scraps.... these strip blocks are enjoying popularity right now. Granted we have boxes and boxes sorted by color of our strips or scraps or what have you.