Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Pattern Names in Allentown, Pennsylvania

Princess Feather from Webster's book.

Quilt pattern collectors are always on the lookout for period names, the vernacular names that people called their quilts before publications like the Ladies' Art Company catalog in the 1890s and Marie Webster’s 1915 book established names that are now standard.

We look through old newspaper fair accounts and are some times rewarded with a familiar name.

1854, Richmond, Virginia,
"One bed quilt, called mariner's compass, made by Mrs. R.E. Porter"

Perhaps something like this, a Virginia quilt from a Jeffrey Evans Auction.

But sometimes one finds something that is not familiar.

Like this Ohio newspaper account of the Portage County Fair
where Mrs. M. McManus won 50 cents with a cactus quilt.

Utah Territorial Fair, 1879
" a handsome cactus quilt" from Arizona, $1.50

What could a Cactus Quilt be?
Perhaps an alternate name for a Princess Feather.

Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus

New York State Fair, 1860

And then we are occasionally left without a clue: 
What was Mrs. Jonas Whiting's "Transposed Quilt?"
(She's not the only New Yorker who entered one in a fair.)

As you can see we're rewarded with an interesting name once in a while and we do a lot of combing through old newspapers (our idea of a good time.) A name like Kaleidoscope Quilt pops out in 1853 among the "handsome bedquilts" and homewoven "Negro cloth" (a rough fabric for enslaved people).

Lehigh County Fair in Allentown, 1901

Specific names are rare, so I was thrilled to stumble upon Allentown, Pennsylvania newspaper accounts of late-19th century fairs. Unlike other papers that gave little space to the ladies' department the Allentown Press and the Allentown Morning Call printed columns of quilt prizes awarded at the Lehigh County Fair. Among the generic "crazy quilts," "silk quilts," calico and delaine quilts made by the Schmidts, Haafs, Klines and Laubachs (the area was rich in Pennsylvania German culture) are quite a few specific pattern names.

Maybe we should thank the editor Charles Weiser and manager David A. Miller or the judges like F.J. Meyers in 1897 who patiently listed the pattern names.

A few names:

Five Finger Quilt (1889 and again in 1896 )
Silecia pavement quilt
Rose of Paradise
Lion Claw
Tea Pot Quilt
Patty pan
A Patty Pan quilt is a hexagon rosette---because it
looks like baking pan--- a muffin tin

1929 Cook book
More serendipity: Nancy Page (Florence LaG.)
also had Patty Pan clubs, cooking features.
Wind wheel quilt
Cucumber quilt
Stair quilt (14,738 pieces)

Stair Quilt: Like this, I'd guess, only more so.

There were plenty of Rising Suns, what we call a Lone Star or Star of Bethlehem

Attributed to Sue Harwick, Allentown, Pennsylvania by her granddaughter
Documented by the Rhode Island Project

And a couple of curiously named popular items like
"Irish Maid Quilt"

Another name for Irish Chain?
A popular design everywhere in the 1890s.

If you subscribe to Newpapers.com link to this search

The 1899 issue of the Morning Call is full of pattern names.

1889 Turkish red quilt

Stair quilt 14,738 pieces

Lehigh county fair allentownPA democrat oct 1894

Rainbow quilt

Five finger quilt

Silecia pavement quilt

Irish maid cradle quilt

Outlined peacock quilt

Leaf & flower quilt

3 colored stripped quilts

2 rising sun quilts

Patty pan


wool Irish maid quilt plain old irish maid

stair quilt 4900 pieces

rising sun 5

quilt intoboggan

memorial bed q


five finger q

pieced leaf q

sateen rainbow qu

palm leaf q

flock of birds q

rainbow log cabin

union star q

Same in 1897

Maybe we can thank the judge F.J Meyers

Irish maid


Patty pan

Spider web

Wind wheel

Cucumber q

Flag qu


Lincoln’s cabin home

Grape vine

Same in 1899

Rising sun 1 2 3 4

Wilk broken block q

Pavement q

Aunt Susie quilt



Rising sun

Irish maid q 2

Rose of paradise q

Brick q

Lion claw q

Orange peel q

Tea pot q

Silk quilt centennial pat

Souvenir ribbon quilt

Quilt wheel pat

Grecian design q

Umbrella q

Union q

Union star q

Q family record

Q chestnut burr

Basket pat q


  1. When I read the name Patty Pan I thought of the summer squash by that name that is round with a scalloped edge.

  2. Patty pan reminds me of one of Beatrix Potter's stories about a patty pan. Very funny story as I recall.