Friday, February 19, 2021

1881 #2: National Fads


Log Cabin dated May 15th 1881
by Catherine Bush Gwin (?-1914) Iowa.
Collection of the Eastern Washington State Historical Society

Yesterday's post looked at regional styles in quilts dated 1881.
Other new ideas were popular all around the country

Log Cabins in silk and calico dated back about
15 years and became increasingly popular in the 1880s.

The date is on a piece of needlework so the quilt
might be later.

From Mother
August 15, 1881

A related innovation was the pineapple or Maltese cross variation.

It says "Frances C.W. Rauch from Ma Matoon," 1881.

A silk crib quilt for C.L.S. dated 1881, perhaps
to take the baby to church.

Silk was an expensive fabric, often imported, but in the 1880s American mills began weaving silk cloth, which reduced the price and increased the availability. Ready-made silk clothing factories also
proliferated and marketed scraps from the cutting tables in clever ways. We see the explosion of silk quilts made from these scraps after 1884 or so.

In 1881 Knight's Dry Goods sold imported silk yardage
for $1 to $2 in Montpelier, Vermont.

People made silk quilts in 1881 but they remained a rather luxurious hobby for a few more years.

As early as 1881 Mary Goff told you how to make a "crazy quilt." Not many needleworkers took her advice until 1884.

Once the crazy quilt fad hit it crowded out other styles
and a divide between crazy quilts and other quilts appeared.

Tomorrow we'll look at cotton quilts dated 1881


  1. If we all had a nickel for every crazy quilt that crossed our paths...

  2. Somewhere in my recollection is the story of a black woman (a freedwoman?) who grew silk worms and made herself adn her family a great deal of money way back when. Hopefully you will include her in your discussion one day. Or have you already? I can't remember!