THEIR STORY AND HOW
TO MAKE THEM
MARIE D. WEBSTER
Garden City New York
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
Made in 1858. Colours: red, green, yellow, and pink
Copyright, 1915, by
Doubleday, Page & Company
All rights reserved, including that of
translation into foreign languages,
including the Scandinavian
|I.||Patchwork in Antiquity||3|
|II.||Patchwork and Quilting During the Middle Ages||16|
|III.||Patchwork and Quilting in Old England||34|
|IV.||The Quilt in America||60|
|V.||How Quilts Are Made||89|
|VII.||Quilt Collections and Exhibitions||133|
|VIII.||The Quilt’s Place in American Life||149|
|List of Quilt Names, Arranged Alphabetically||169|
|List of References||177|
LIST OF COLOUR PLATES
|*The Bedtime Quilt||24|
|The Iris Design||40|
|*The Sunflower Quilt||102|
|“Pink Rose” Design||120|
|*The “Wind-blown Tulip” Design||134|
|Golden Butterflies and Pansies||140|
|The “Snowflake” Quilt Design||146|
|*The Dogwood Quilt||150|
|The Wild Rose||156|
* Made by Marie Webster.
LIST OF BLACK AND WHITE ILLUSTRATIONS
|Section of Funeral Tent of an Egyptian Queen, Made in a Patchwork of Coloured Goatskins||4|
|Old English Appliqué||5|
|Fifth Century Appliqué||6|
|Armenian Patchwork: St. George and the Dragon||7|
|Persian Quilted Linen Bath Carpet: Seventeenth Century||10|
|Old English Hanging with Appliqué Figures||11|
|Modern Egyptian Patchwork: Four Cushion Covers||12|
|Modern Egyptian Patchwork: Panels for Screens||13|
|Modern Egyptian Patchwork: Panels for Wall Decoration||16|
|Double Nine Patch||17|
|Bedroom, Cochran Residence, Deerfield, Mass.||21|
|[Pg x] Jacob’s Ladder||28|
|Old German Appliqué, Metropolitan Museum, New York||32|
|Star of the East||42|
|White Quilt with Tufted Border, Metropolitan Museum, New York||43|
|Sunburst and Wheel of Fortune||46|
|Tree of Paradise||47|
|Old Bed and Trundle Bed||48|
|Two White Tufted Bedspreads||49|
|Tufted Bedspread with Knotted Fringe||52|
|Princess Feathers with Border||59|
|North Carolina Lily||61|
|[Pg xi] Feather Star with Appliqué||64|
|Tulip Tree Leaves||65|
|Currants and Cockscomb||67|
|Rose of Sharon||75|
|Original Floral Designs||78|
|Conventional Rose Wreath||81|
|Detail of Harrison Rose, Showing Quilting||93|
|Original Rose Design||96|
|Rose of LeMoine||101|
|Puffed Quilt of Silk||109|
|Variegated Hexagon, Silk||112|
|Roman Stripe, Silk||113|
|[Pg xii] American Log Cabin, Silk and Wool||116|
|Original Rose No. 3||124|
|White Quilt, Stuffed Designs||125|
|Old Ladies Quilting||129|
|Quilts on a Line||136|
* Made by Marie Webster.
ILLUSTRATIONS IN TEXT
|Single Diagonal Lines||93|
|Double Diagonal Lines||93|
|Triple Diagonal Lines||93|
|Feathers in Bands||105|
|Feathers in Waved Lines||105|
|Feathers in Circles||105|
|Three Original Quilting Designs from Old Quilts||108|
|Design from an Old English Quilt||112|
Although the quilt is one of the most familiar and necessary articles in our households, its story is yet to be told. In spite of its universal use and intimate connection with our lives, its past is a mystery which—at the most—can be only partially unravelled.
The quilt has a tradition of long centuries of slow but certain progress. Its story is replete with incidents of love and daring, of sordid pilferings and generous sacrifices. It has figured in many a thrilling episode. The same type of handiwork that has sheltered the simple peasant from wintry blasts has adorned the great halls of doughty warriors and noble kings. Humble maids, austere nuns, grand dames, and stately queens; all have shared in the fascination of the quilter’s art and have contributed to its advancement. Cottage, convent, and castle; all have been enriched, at one time or another, by the splendours of patchwork and the pleasures of its making.
[Pg xvi] In its suitability for manufacture within the home, the quilt possesses a peculiar merit. Although exposed for a full century to the competition of machinery, under the depressing influence of which most of the fireside crafts have all but vanished, the making of quilts as a home industry has never languished. Its hold on the affections of womankind has never been stronger than it is to-day. As a homemaker, the quilt is a most capable tool lying ready at the hand of every woman. The selection of design, the care in piecing, the patience in quilting; all make for feminine contentment and domestic happiness.
There are more quilts being made at the present time—in the great cities as well as in the rural communities—than ever before, and their construction as a household occupation—and recreation—is steadily increasing in popularity. This should be a source of much satisfaction to all patriotic Americans who believe that the true source of our nation’s strength lies in keeping the family hearth flame bright.
As known to-day, the quilt is the result of combining two kinds of needlework, both of very ancient origin, but widely different in character. [Pg xvii] Patchwork—the art of piecing together fabrics of various kinds and colours or laying patches of one kind upon another, is a development of the primitive desire for adornment. Quilting—the method of fastening together layers of cloths in such a manner as to secure firmly the loose materials uniformly spread between them, has resulted from the need of adequate protection against rigorous climates. The piecing and patching provide the maker with a suitable field for the display of artistic ability, while the quilting calls for particular skill in handling the needle. The fusing of these two kinds of needlework into a harmonious combination is a task that requires great patience and calls for talent of no mean order.
To our grandmothers quilt making meant social pleasure as well as necessary toil, and to their grandmothers it gave solace during long vigils in pioneer cabins. The work of the old-time quilters possesses artistic merit to a very high degree. While much of it was designed strictly for utilitarian purposes—in fact, more for rugged service than display, yet the number of beautiful old quilts which these industrious ancestors have bequeathed to us is very large. Every now and then there comes [Pg xviii] to light one of these old quilts of the most exquisite loveliness, in which the needlework is almost painful in its exactness. Such treasures are worthy of study and imitation, and are deserving of careful preservation for the inspiration of future generations of quilters.
To raise in popular esteem these most worthy products of home industry, to add to the appreciation of their history and traditions, to give added interest to the hours of labour which their construction involves, to present a few of the old masterpieces to the quilters of to-day; such is the purpose of this book of quilts.
March 18, 1915.
THEIR STORY AND
HOW TO MAKE THEM
Patchwork in Antiquity
THE origin of the domestic arts of all nations is shrouded in mystery. Since accurate dates cannot be obtained, traditional accounts must be accepted. The folklore of any country is always exceedingly interesting and generally has a few kernels of fact imbedded somewhere in its flowers of legend, although some of our most familiar household objects are not even mentioned by tradition. Spinning and weaving, however, are very generously treated in the mythology and folklore of all nations. Nearly every race has some legend in which claim is made to the discovery of these twin arts.
In Biblical lore Naa-mah, a sister of Tubal Cain, belonging to the seventh generation after Cain, is said to have invented both spinning and weaving. This tradition is strengthened by the assertions of some historians that the Phrygians [Pg 4] were the oldest of races, since their birthplace was in Armenia, which in turn is credited with having the Garden of Eden within its boundaries. The Chinese also can advance very substantial claims that primeval man was born with eyes aslant. They at least have a fixed date for the invention of the loom. This was in 2640 B. C. by Lady of Si-Ling, the wife of a famous emperor, Huang-ti.
The Egyptians who, according to their traditions, sprung from the soil, and who despised the Greeks for their late coming into the human arena, were probably quite as ancient as the Phrygians. It is known positively that in the wonderful valley of the Nile there has lived for more than six thousand years a race remarkable for its inventive faculties and the developing of the industrial arts. In the first dawn of human progress, while his nomadic neighbours roamed carefree about him, the Egyptian toiled steadily, and left the records of his achievements beside his God, the Nile.
SECTION OF FUNERAL TENT OF AN EGYPTIAN QUEEN
Made in a patchwork of coloured goatskins
OLD ENGLISH APPLIQUÉ
Figure of a knight on horseback. Thirteenth century
When investigating any subject, the ability to see the actual thing itself is more helpful than pages of description. In Egypt are preserved for us thousands of wonderful tombs which serve as storehouses of facts concerning the early civilization of [Pg 5] this land. The mummy wrappings reveal very distinctly the development of the textiles and decorative arts. The Egyptians, since the earliest historical times, were always celebrated for their manufacture of linen, cotton, and woollen cloths, and the products of their looms were eagerly sought by surrounding nations. The fine linen and embroidered work, yarns and woollen fabrics of both upper and lower Egypt, were held in the highest esteem.
Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, in his history of “Ancient Egypt,” tells of their knowledge of dyeing and of the nature of the fabrics found in the tombs: “The quantity of linen manufactured and used in Egypt was very great; and, independent of that made up into articles of dress, the numerous wrappers required for enveloping the mummies, both of men and animals, show how large a supply must have been kept ready for the constant demand at home as well as for that of the foreign market.”
“The actual experiments made, with the aid of powerful microscopes ... on the nature of the fibres of linen and cotton threads, have shown that the former invariably present a cylindrical form, transparent, and articulated, or joined like a cane, [Pg 6] while the latter offer the appearance of a flat riband, with a hem or border at each edge; so that there is no possibility of mistaking the fibres of either, except, perhaps, when the cotton is in an unripe state, and the flattened shape of the centre is less apparent. The results having been found similar in every instance, and the structure of the fibres thus unquestionably determined, the threads of mummy cloths were submitted to the same test, and no exception was found to their being linen, nor were they even a mixture of linen and cotton.”
“Another very remarkable discovery of the Egyptians was the use of mordants. They were acquainted with the effect of acids on colour, and submitted the cloth they dyed to one of the same processes adopted in our modern manufactories; and while, from his account, we perceive how little Pliny understood the process he was describing, he at the same time gives us the strongest evidence of its truth.”
FIFTH CENTURY APPLIQUÉ
Illustrating the story of St. George and the dragon, and other Christian subjects
“In Egypt,” he says, “they stain cloths in a wonderful manner. They take them in their original state, quite white, and imbue them, not with a dye, but with certain drugs which have the power of absorbing and taking colour. When this is [Pg 7] done, there is still no appearance of change in the cloths; but so soon as they are dipped into a bath of the pigment, which has been prepared for the purpose, they are taken out properly coloured. The singular thing is, that though the bath contains only one colour, several hues are imparted to the piece, these changes depending on the natures of the drug employed; nor can the colour be afterward washed off; and surely if the bath had many colours in it, they must have presented a confused appearance on the cloth.”
The ability of the Egyptians to have a variety of colours for use in their embroideries and patchworks contributed much to the beauty of these arts.
Embroidery in various forms, applied to all sorts of objects, was commonly practised throughout ancient Egypt, and the Israelites, at the time of the Exodus, carried their knowledge of the textile arts with them to India. Ezekiel in chapter twenty-seven, verse seven, in telling of the glories of Tyre, says: “Of fine linen with broidered work Egypt was thy sail, that it might be to thee for an ensign.” In “De Bello Judaico,” by Flavius Josephus, another reference is made to ancient needlework:
[Pg 8] “When Herod the Great rebuilt the temple of Jerusalem nineteen years before our era, he was careful not to omit in the decoration of the sanctuary the marvels of textile art which had been the chief embellishment of the tabernacle during the long wanderings in the desert. Before the doors of the most sacred place he hung a Babylonian tapestry fifty cubits high by sixteen wide: azure and flax, scarlet and purple were blended in it with admirable art and rare ingenuity, for these represented the various elements. Scarlet signified fire; linen, the earth; azure, the air; and purple, the sea. These meanings were derived in two instances from similarity of colour: in the other two from their origin, the earth yielding linen and the sea purple. The whole range of the heavens, except the signs, was wrought upon this veil or hanging. The porticos were also enriched with many coloured tapestries ornamented with purple flowers.”
There is very meagre information concerning the character and style of tapestry in Egypt during the rule of the Pharaohs. MM. Perrot and Chipiex, in their “Histoire de l’Art dans l’Antiquité,” publish a painting containing a hanging of purely ornamental design formed of circles, triangles, and [Pg 9] palm leaves reversed. Wilkinson describes an Egyptian hanging—an original, not a reproduction—found in an English collection: “In the centre, on a green ground, stands a boy in white, with a goose beside him; and around this centre a border of red and blue lines; then white figures on a yellow ground; again blue lines and red ornaments; and lastly red, white, and blue embroideries.” This is a very ancient example of true applied work combined with embroidery. In the Psalms it is said that Pharaoh’s daughter shall be brought to the king in a raiment of needlework and that “her clothing is of wrought gold.”
The huge columns, bas-reliefs, and the various architectural details of the early Egyptian buildings were all decorated in vivid colours. The interiors of their temples were also covered with gayly coloured scenes which have preserved for us a most extensive knowledge of their life and customs. Their mummy cases were painted in the most brilliant hues, and often the wrappings of the mummies themselves bore brightly coloured portraits of the deceased. Since the Egyptians lived in an atmosphere of brilliant colour, with ever-shining sun, the bluest of skies, and the purple [Pg 10] glow of the desert always before them, it is not surprising that they used their brushes with lavish hand. Every plane surface called for ornamentation, whether on temple or shroud. Their pigments, both mineral and vegetable, were remarkable for their permanence.
The crude and childish way in which the Egyptians applied their paint in distinct patches would lead one to believe that patchwork was included in their earliest needlework, even if no actual proof existed. But all nations have at some period used the needle to copy the masterpieces of great artists. The English, as a typical example of this spirit of imitation, sought on a background of cloth of gold to embroider the saints from the canvas of Fra Angelico. Also the French, in the manufacture of their tapestries, copied the works of many of the old masters. Positive proof of the existence of patchwork, or as some choose to call it, “applied work,” in Egypt at a very early period is found on a robe belonging to an early sovereign. This article of apparel was of linen and, in general design, resembled a modern apron. According to Wilkinson, it was “richly ornamented in front with lions’ heads and other devices, probably of coloured [Pg 11] leather; and the border was formed of a row of asps, the emblem of royalty. Sometimes the royal name with an asp on each side was embroidered upon it.”
PERSIAN QUILTED LINEN BATH CARPET
OLD ENGLISH HANGING WITH APPLIQUÉ FIGURES
The most ancient example of patchwork is a coloured gazelle hide presented in the Museum of Cairo. The colours of the different pieces of skin are bright pink, deep golden yellow, pale primrose, bluish green, and pale blue. This patchwork served as the canopy or pall of an Egyptian queen about the year 960 B. C. She was the mother-in-law of Shishak, who besieged and captured Jerusalem shortly after the death of Solomon. On its upper border this interesting specimen has repeated scarabs, cartouches with inscriptions, discs, and serpents. The lower border has a central device of radiating lotus flowers; this is flanked by two narrow panels with cartouches; beyond these are two gazelles facing toward the lotus device. Next to the gazelles on each side is a curious detail consisting of two oddly shaped ducks, back to back; then come the two outer compartments of the border, each of which enclose a winged beetle, or scarabæus, bearing a disc or emblem of the sun. The other main division of the field is spotted in regular order with open blossom forms. There is decided [Pg 12] order in the repetition and arrangement of these details, which gives a rather stiff and formal look to the whole design.
To-day Egyptians are making patchwork that is undoubtedly a development of the very art practised in the days of Ptolemy, Rameses, and Cleopatra. They do not use their patchwork to adorn quilts, since these are unknown in the warm Nile valley, but as covers for cushions, panels for screens, and decorations suitable for wall hangings. Generally but two kinds of material are employed in its construction: a rather loosely woven cotton cloth, and a firm, coarse linen. The cottons used are all gayly dyed in plain colours, and the linens are in the natural shades, with perhaps a slight mixture of white. The patchwork designs are typically Egyptian, many pieces being covered with replicas of paintings found on tombs and temples. These paintings are copied as faithfully in colour as in design, even the hieroglyphics being exactly reproduced, and altogether make very striking and effective decorations.
MODERN EGYPTIAN PATCHWORK
Four cushion covers
MODERN EGYPTIAN PATCHWORK
Panels for screens
The modern Egyptians have the innate taste and ability of all Orientals for harmonizing colour. Their universal use of black to outline and define [Pg 13] most of the designs produces a beautiful harmony between otherwise clashing hues. With nearly as many shades at their disposal in cloth as a painter has in paint, they are quite ambitious in their attempts to produce realistic scenes. On some of the best specimens of modern Egyptian patchwork gods and goddesses are shown sitting enthroned surrounded by attendants and slaves bearing trophies of war and chase as offerings to the divine beings. On others, groups of men and women are shown, humbly presenting salvers of fruit and the sacred flower—the lotus—to their gods. Some of the most effective work is decorated with a simple life-size figure of Osiris or Rameses the Great in brilliant colours. A few of the more subdued patchwork designs consist of a solitary scarab, the sacred beetle of the Pharaohs, or an asp or two gracefully entwined. The smaller pieces make practical and admirable cushion covers. There are many attractive shops in Cairo that sell quantities of this gay patchwork, and few tourists leave Egypt without a specimen or two as mementoes of the paintings that give us a glimpse of Egypt’s ancient splendour.
While among the ancient Greeks and Romans all the arts of the needle were held in the greatest [Pg 14] esteem, comparatively little attention was paid to the adornment of their sleeping apartments. Accounts of early Greek houses state that, while the bedchambers were hung all about with curtains and draperies, these were usually of plain fabrics with little attempt at decoration. Of patchwork or appliqué, as known to the Egyptians and Hebrews, the Greeks and Romans have left us no trace. However, as substantiating the regard shown for needlework by the Greeks and Romans, the following two pleasing myths have come down to us: one, the “Story of Arachne,” as related by Ovid; the other from the “Odyssey” of Homer.
Arachne, a most industrious needleworker, had the audacity to contest against Pallas, the goddess of the art of weaving. With her bobbins, Arachne wove such wonderful pictures of the Loves of the Gods that Pallas, conscious of having been surpassed by a mortal, in an outburst of anger struck her. Arachne, humiliated by the blow, and unable to avenge it, hanged herself in despair. Whereupon the goddess relented, and with the intention of gratifying Arachne’s passionate love of weaving, transformed her into a spider and bade her weave on forever.
[Pg 15] The other interesting incident of ancient times is that of Penelope’s patient weaving. It is related that, after one short year of wedded happiness, her husband Ulysses was called to take part in the Trojan War. Not a single message having been received from him by Penelope during his long absence, a doubt finally arose as to his being still alive. Numerous suitors then sought her hand, but Penelope begged for time and sought to put them off with many excuses. One of her devices for delay was that of being very busy preparing a funeral robe for Ulysses’ father. She announced that she would be unable to choose another husband until after this robe was finished. Day after day she industriously wove, spending patient hours at her loom, but each night secretly ravelled out the product of her day’s labour. By this stratagem Penelope restrained the crowd of ardent suitors up to the very day of Ulysses’ return.
Patchwork and Quilting During the Middle Ages
IN THE early days of Christianity the various organizations of the mother church took a deep interest in all the textile arts, and we are indebted to the ecclesiastical orders for what progress was made in needlework during the beginning of the Middle Ages. The makers of church hangings and vestments were stimulated by thoughts of the spiritual blessings with which they were assured their work would be rewarded. Much of this early ecclesiastic needlework is extremely elaborate and was always eagerly desired by the holy orders. At one time the craze for gorgeous vestments reached such an extreme that we have record of one worthy bishop chiding his priests because they “carried their religion on their backs instead of in their hearts.”
MODERN EGYPTIAN PATCHWORK
Panels for wall decoration
DOUBLE NINE PATCH
Made in Ohio in 1808. Colours: blue and white, and beautifully quilted
The artistic needlework of the Christian era [Pg 17] consists almost entirely of embroidery; no positive reference to patchwork or quilting being found in western Europe prior to the time of the Crusades. But with this great movement, thousands of the most intelligent men in Europe, urged by religious enthusiasm combined with love of adventure, forced their way into eastern countries whose culture and refinements of living far surpassed their own. The luxuries which they found in Syria were eagerly seized and carried home to all the western lands. Returning Crusaders exhibited fine stuffs of every description that roused the envy of all who obtained a glimpse of them. A vigorous commerce with the east was immediately stimulated. From Syria merchants brought into Italy, Spain, and France silks and cottons to supplement the native linen and wool, and also many kinds of embroidered work of a quality much finer than ever known before. As a result dyeing, weaving, and needlework entered on an era of great development.
Previous to the eleventh century so memorable in the history of the Crusaders, references to quilting and patchwork are few and uncertain, but from that time on these twin arts became more and more conspicuous in the needlecraft of nearly every [Pg 18] country in western Europe. This is explained by the stimulus which was given to these arts by the specimens of appliqué hangings and garments brought from Syria, where the natives wrought for centuries the identical applied work carried into Palestine from Egypt in Biblical times by the Hebrews and the Phœnicians.
About the earliest applied work of which we have record were the armorial bearings of the Crusaders. A little later came rather elaborate designs applied to their cloaks and banners. Among other specimens of Old English needlework is a piece of applied work at Stonyhurst College depicting a knight on horseback. That this knight represents a Crusader is beyond question since the cross, the insignia of the cause, is a prominent figure in the ornamentation of the knight’s helmet and shield, and is also prominent on the blanket on the horse.
Noticeable progress in the arts of both quilting and appliqué was made during the Middle Ages in Spain. Spanish women have always been noted for their cleverness with the needle, and quite a few of the stitches now in use are credited to them. At the time of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, applied work had long been known. Whether [Pg 19] it developed from imitating garments brought home by the returning Crusaders, or was adopted from the Moors, who gave the best of their arts to Spain during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, cannot be positively stated. However, it is worthy of notice that whenever the Christian came in contact with the Moor, a great advance in the textile arts of the former could generally be observed. This holds true even down to this day, our eagerness to possess the rugs of Turkey and Afghanistan, and the imitation of these designs in the manufacture of domestic carpets, being a case in point.
During the reign of King Philip II, 1527-1598, the grandees of the Spanish court wore beautifully wrought garments, rich with applied work and embroidery. A sixteenth-century hanging of silk and velvet appliqué, now preserved in Madrid, is typical of the best Spanish work. It is described as having a gray-green silk foundation, on which are applied small white silk designs outlined with yellow cord; alternating with the green silk are bands of dark red velvet with ornamented designs cut from the green silk, and upon which are small pieces of white silk representing berries. Also, [Pg 20] another handsome specimen of Spanish applied work of the seventeenth century is a linen curtain richly embellished with heraldic emblems couched with gold thread. Horse trappings and reposters, loaded with appliqué flowers cut from gold and silver cloth, were much in evidence among the Spanish nobility of this period.
Of particular interest, as showing how oriental quilting designs filtered into Europe through the intercourse of the early Portuguese traders and missionaries with the East Indies, is the brief mention by Margaret S. Burton of a very elaborate old quilt now in a New York collection: “My next find was a tremendous bed quilt which is used as a portière for double folding doors. It formed part of a collection of hangings owned by the late Stanford White. He claimed there were only four of its kind in existence, and this the only one in America. It is valued at $1,000. It is a Portuguese bed quilt and was embroidered centuries ago by the Portuguese missionary monks sent to India. They were commissioned by their queen to embroider them for her to present as wedding gifts to her favourite ladies-in-waiting.” On account of intricacy and originality of design this [Pg 21] quilt represents years of patient work. It is hand embroidered in golden coloured floss upon a loosely woven linen which had been previously quilted very closely. The work is in chain stitch, and there are at least fifty different stitch patterns. In the centre panel is the sacred cat of India. Doves bearing olive branches, pomegranates, daisies, and passion flowers are intermingled in the beautiful design.
A design much used by the old-time quilt makers. This quilt, which is about 85 years old, is unusual, in that the baskets are so small
INTERIOR OF BEDROOM
Cochran residence, Deerfield, Mass., showing colonial bedstead with quilt and canopy
While the uses of patchwork were known over Europe long before the Renaissance, some credit its introduction, into Italy at least, to the Florentine painter, Botticelli (1446-1510). The applied work, or “thought work,” of the Armenians so appealed to him that he used it on hangings for church decoration. Under his influence the use of the applied work, opus conservetum, for chapel curtains and draperies was greatly extended. In time these simple patchwork hangings were supplanted by the mural paintings and tapestries now so famous. There are still in existence some rare pieces of Italian needlework of the sixteenth century having designs of fine lace interspersed among the embroidered appliqué of silk.
A homely cousin of the gorgeous opus [Pg 22] conservetum, which has filled its useful though humble office down to the present day, is the heavy quilted and padded leather curtain used in many Italian churches in lieu of a door. Many of the church doors are too massive and cumbersome to be opened readily by the entering worshippers, so they are left constantly open. Leather hangings often several inches thick and quilted with rows of horizontal stitches rather widely spaced, are hung before the open doorways. Even these curtains are often quite stiff and unyielding, so that holding back corners for the passage of both worshipper and tourist forms a favourite occupation for numerous beggars.
Appliqué, described as opus consutum, or cut work, was made in Florence and Venice, chiefly for ecclesiastical purposes, during the height of their glory in the fifteenth century. One such piece of Florentine cut work is remarkable for its great beauty and the skill shown in bringing together both weaving and embroidery. “Much of the architectural accessories is loom wrought, while the extremities of the evangelists are all done by the needle; but the head, neck, and long beard are worked by themselves upon very fine linen, and [Pg 23] afterward put together in such a way that the full white beard overlaps the tunics.... For the sake of expedition, all the figures were sometimes at once shaped out of woven silk, satin, velvet, linen, or woollen cloth, and sewed upon the grounding of the article.... Sometimes the cut work done in this way is framed, as it were, with an edging either in plain or gilt leather, hempen or silken cord, like the leadings of a stained-glass window.” Gold and silver starlike flowers, sewn on appliqué embroideries, were common to Venice and also southern Germany in the fifteenth century.
Belonging to the Italian Renaissance period are some marvellous panels, once part of a curtain, which are now preserved in the South Kensington Museum in London. The foundation of these panels is of beautiful blue damask having applied designs cut from yellow satin. These hangings are described as being very rich in effect and unusually handsome, and nothing in the annals of needlework of their period was more glorious.
A very ingenious patchwork, originating in Italy during the sixteenth century and peculiar to that country and Spain, consisted of patterns [Pg 24] designed so as to be counter hanging. For example, if one section of a length of such patchwork consisted of a blue satin pattern on a yellow velvet ground, the adjoining section would, through the interchange of materials, consist of a yellow velvet pattern on a blue satin ground. The joints of the patching were overlaid with cord or gimp, stitched down so as to conceal them entirely and give definition to the forms constituting the pattern.
Italian needleworkers were very fond of this “transposed appliqué upon two fabrics,” especially when composed of designs of foliage conventionally treated, or of arabesques and scrolls. On a piece of old Milanese damask, figured with violet on violet, appear designs in appliqué cut from two shades of yellow satin. These are remarkable for their powerful relief, suggesting sculpture rather than embroidery, and have been pronounced worthy of the best masters of their time—namely, that period so rich in suggestions of ornament—the seventeenth century.
THE BEDTIME QUILT
With its procession of night-clad children will be excellent “company” for a tot, to whom a story may be told of the birds that sleep in the little trees while the friendly stars keep watch
Closely related to patchwork, but not as commonly used, is “inlay.” In the making of this style of decoration one material is not laid on to another, but into it. It is the fitting together of small [Pg 25] sections of any desired fabric in a prearranged design. For convenience, all the pieces are placed upon a foundation of sufficient firmness, but which does not appear when the work is finished. Ornamental stitches conceal the seams where the edges meet, and it is especially adapted for making heraldic devices. During the Renaissance it was much used by both Spaniards and Italians, who learned the art from the Moors.
An example of quilting, attributed to the Island of Sicily about the year 1400, is described as being a ground of buff-coloured linen. The raised effect is obtained by an interpadding of wool, and the designs are outlined in brown thread. This entire coverlet is embroidered with scenes from the life of Tristan, who frequently engaged in battle against King Langair, the oppressor of his country. This bit of quilting hangs in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Another hanging of the fourteenth century, belonging to the same collection, shows a spirited naval battle between galleys. A striking peculiarity of this hanging is that floral designs are scattered in great profusion among the boats of the combatants.
A patchwork made by the application of bits of [Pg 26] leather to velvet was extensively used in some European countries during the Middle Ages. As leather did not fray and needed no sewing over at the edge, but only sewing down, stitching well within the edge gave the effect of a double outline. This combination of leather and velvet was introduced from Morocco. A wonderful tent of this leather patchwork, belonging to the French king, François I, was taken by the Spanish at the battle of Pavia (1525), and is still preserved in the armoury at Madrid.
Some of the very finest specimens of the quilting of the Middle Ages have been preserved for us in Persia. Here the art, borrowed at a very early period from the Arabs, was developed in an unusual and typically oriental manner. Prayer rugs, carpets, and draperies of linen, silk, and satin were among the products of the Persian quilters.
We are indebted to Mr. Alan S. Cole for the following description of a seventeenth-century Persian quilted bath carpet, now preserved at the South Kensington Museum in London. “This typical Persian embroidery is a linen prayer or bath carpet, the bordering or outer design of which partly takes the shape of the favourite Persian [Pg 27] architectural niche filled in with such delicate scrolling stem ornament as is so lavishly used in that monument of sixteenth-century Mohammedan art, the Taj Mahal at Agra. In the centre of the carpet beneath the niche form is a thickly blossoming shrub, laid out on a strictly geometric or formal plan, but nevertheless depicted with a fairly close approach to the actual appearance of bunches of blossoms and of leaves in nature. But the regular and corresponding curves of the stems, and the ordered recurrence of the blossom bunches, give greater importance to ornamental character than to any intention of giving a picture of a tree. Similar stems, blossoms, and leaves are still more formally and ornamentally adapted in the border of the carpet, and to fill in the space between the border and the niche shape. The embroidery is of chain stitch with white, yellow, green, and red silks. But before this embroidery was taken in hand the whole of the linen was minutely stitched.”
Worthy of mention is a patchwork panel made in Resht, Persia, in the eighteenth century: “The foundation ground is of ivory coloured cloth, and applied to it, almost entirely covering the ivory background, are designs cut from crimson, cinnamon, [Pg 28] pink, black, turquoise, and sapphire coloured cloths, all richly embroidered in marigold and green silk.”
The following is a quilt anecdote, typically oriental, which contains a bit of true philosophy. It seems that the hero, Nass-ed-Din Hodja, was a Turkish person who became chief jester to the terrible Tamerlane during his invasion of Asia Minor. He was also the hero, real or imaginary, of many other stories which originated during the close of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries. His tomb is still shown at Akshekir. The story is given entire as it appeared in “Turkey of the Ottoman” by L. M. Garnett:
HOW THE HODJA LOST HIS QUILT
“One winter’s night, when the Hodja and his wife were snugly asleep, two men began to quarrel and fight under the window. Both drew knives and the dispute threatened to become serious. Hearing the noise, the Hodja’s wife got up, looked out of the window and, seeing the state of affairs, woke her husband, saying: ‘Great heavens, get up and separate them or they will kill each other.’ But the Hodja only answered sleepily: ‘Wife, [Pg 29] dear, come to bed again; on my faith there are no men in the world; I wish to be quiet; it is a winter’s night. I am an old man, and perhaps if I went out they might beat me.’ The Hodja’s wife was a wise woman. She kissed his hands and his feet. The Hodja was cross and scolded her, but he threw the quilt about him, went downstairs and out to where the disputants were, and said to them: ‘For the sake of my white beard cease, my sons, your strife.’ The men, in reply, pulled the quilt from the Hodja’s shoulders and made off with it. ‘Very well,’ observed the old man. He reëntered, locked the door, and went upstairs. Said his wife: ‘You did very well to go out to those men. Have they left off quarrelling?’ ‘They have,’ replied the Hodja. ‘What were they quarrelling about, Hodja?’ ‘Fool,’ replied the Hodja, ‘they were quarrelling for my quilt. Henceforward my motto shall be, “Beware of serpents.”’”
One of the most striking of the quilts having Biblical names. Colours: blue and white
Made in Ohio about 1840. Beautifully quilted in medallions and pineapples of original design. Colors: red, pink, and green
Appliqué, or applied work, has never been used in France to the same extent as in England, even though the French name “appliqué” is more frequently used than any other. However, there is one striking example of appliqué work, of Rhenish or French origin, now hanging in the Victoria [Pg 30] and Albert Museum in London. This realistic patchwork represents a fight between an armoured knight mounted on a high-stepping white horse and a ferocious dragon. The designs are arranged in a fashion similar to the blocks in a modern quilt, and depict several scenes showing the progress of the combat. There is also a border covered closely with figures of monks, knights, and ladies.
An extract from “First Steps in Collecting,” by Grace M. Vallois, gives an interesting glimpse of an old French attic. An object of great interest to us is the old, unfinished quilt she discovered there: “A rummaging expedition in a French grenier yields more treasures than one taken in an English lumber room. The French are more conservative; they dislike change and never throw away anything. Among valuable antiques found in the grenier of a Louis XV house in the Pyrenees were some rare curtains of white linen ornamented with designs cut from beautiful old chintz; the edges of the applied designs were covered with tightly twisted cotton cord. Also, in the same room, in a drawer of an old chestnut-wood bureau, was found an unfinished bed quilt very curiously worked. It was of linen with a filling of rather [Pg 31] soft cotton cord about an eighth of an inch wide. These cords were held in place by rows of minute stitching of white silk, making the bedcover almost solid needlework. Besides the quilting there were at rather wide intervals conventional flowers in peacock shades of blue and green silk executed in chain stitch. When found, the needle was still sticking in one of the flowers, and many were traced ready for work. The traced lines appear to have been made with India ink and were very clear and delicate. What caused the abrupt interruption of the old quilt no one can tell. It is possible that the great terror of 1793 caused the patient maker to flee from her unfinished task.”
In the countries of northern Europe there is scarcely any record concerning the art of quilting and patchwork, and little can be said beyond the fact that both existed in some form or other. In Germany the quilt so familiar to us is practically unknown. In the past appliqué was very little used, except as cut work, or opus consutum, in blazonments and heraldic devices. The thick feather beds of medieval Germany were covered with various kinds of thick comforts filled with either wool or feathers, and sometimes sparsely [Pg 32] quilted. The only decoration of the comfort consisted of a band of ornamental work, ten to twenty inches wide, usually worked in cross-stitch design with brightly coloured yarns. These bands were generally loose upon the comfort, one edge being held down by the pillow, but occasionally they were sewed to the edge of the bedcover.
In a work on arts and crafts relating to their presence in Sweden, it is written that “woven hangings were used to decorate the timbered walls of the halls of the vikings. They were hung over the temples, and they decorated the timber sepulchres of the dead. When the timbered grave of the Danish queen, Fyra Danabode, who died about 950, was opened, remains of woven woollen cloth were found.” As far back as Swedish records go it can be shown that Swedish women wove and sewed figured material.
FINE EXAMPLE OF OLD GERMAN APPLIQUÉ
Now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York
A modern quilt. Colours: blue and white
On account of the cold there is urgent need of wall hangings, and they are used extensively throughout Scandinavia. On festive occasions the stiff, cold appearance of Swedish peasants’ homes is transformed by the gay wall coverings to one of hospitality and warmth. The hangings used are made of linen, either painted or embroidered [Pg 33] in bright colours. The painted ones are especially interesting as they depict many historical scenes. Allegorical and religious subjects are also used to decorate many of these linen hangings. The Swedes are very patriotic, and on their wall hangings show all the saints clad in typical Swedish costumes. The apostles wear Swedish jack boots, loose collars, and pea jackets; and Joseph, as governor of Egypt, is shown wearing a three-cornered hat and smoking a pipe.
There is a valuable collection of Swedish needlework in the Northern Museum of Stockholm, dating from 1639 to the nineteenth century. Among this collection there are a few small pieces of applied work: some cushions, glove gauntlets, and a woman’s handbag. It is possible that patchwork was used more extensively than the museum’s display would indicate, but since large pieces are very rarely found, patchwork was evidently not held in the same esteem as embroidery and painting.
Patchwork and Quilting in Old England
IN SEARCHING for the beginning of needlework in England, the first authentic date revealed relating directly to this subject is 709, when the Bishop of Sherborne writes of the skill Englishwomen had attained at that time in the use of the needle. Preserved in various museums are some examples of Anglo-Saxon embroidery of uncertain date, that are known to have been made before the Bishop of Sherborne’s time. Mention should also be made of the wonderful Bayeux Tapestry. This ancient piece is 227 feet long and twenty inches wide, and is of great historical interest, in that it illustrates events of English history from the accession of Edward the Confessor to the English defeat at Hastings by the Normans in 1066. There is some doubt as to whether this tapestry, which has the characteristic of typical appliqué—namely, the absence of shading—is actually of English workmanship, but it is unquestionably [Pg 35] of Anglo-Saxon origin. It was first hung in Bayeux Cathedral in 1476.
A beautifully quilted design made about 1855. Colours: a dull green calico having small red flowers and white
A quaint old design combining a pieced block with an applied leaf stem. Colours: green and white
It is a generally accepted fact that appliqué and embroidery are closely related and of about equal age, although relatively few examples of the former are preserved in collections of needlework. One of the oldest authentic bits of appliqué is at Stonyhurst College. It represents a knight clad in full armour, mounted on a spirited galloping horse. The horse is covered with an elaborately wrought blanket and has an imposing ornament on his head. The knight wears a headdress of design similar to that of the horse and, with arm uplifted and sword drawn, appears about to attack a foe. This work is well done, and the pose of both man and horse shows spirit. It is said to have been made during the thirteenth century. Preserved to us from this same period is the tattered fragment of a coat worn by Edward, the Black Prince, and which now hangs over his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral. With it are the helmet and gauntlets he wore and the shield he carried. The coat is of a red and blue velvet, now sadly faded, applied to a calico background and closely quilted. It is too elaborate to have been made to [Pg 36] wear under his armour, and was probably worn during state functions where armour was not required, although it was then customary to wear thickly padded and quilted coats and hoods in order to ease the weight of the heavy and unyielding coats of mail.
Much of the best needlework in England at this early period was for the church. Neither labour nor expense was spared to make the magnificent decorations used in the old cathedrals. Aside from the linens, silks, and velvets used in this construction, much gold and silver bullion was wrought into the elaborate altar hangings, altar fronts, and ecclesiastical vestments. In their ornamentation applied work was freely used, especially on the large hangings draped over the altar.
It was during the earliest period that the Latin name opus consutum was commonly used to designate patchwork. Chain stitch also was much used on early English embroidery; to such an extent that it is now of great service as an identification mark to fix the dates of medieval needlework. Chain stitch was dignified by the Latin name opus anglicanum. Only the most elaborate and richest of embroideries have been preserved; the reason [Pg 37] being that much of the work was done with silver and gold threads which were in reality fine wires of these precious metals. Being exceedingly costly, they were given unusual care, many being kept with the royal plate and jewels. One specimen made in 905 by Aelfled, the queen of Edward, the Elder, is now treasured in Durham Cathedral. It is described as being “of almost solid gold thread, so exquisitely embroidered that it resembles a fine illuminated manuscript,” and is indescribably beautiful. In many instances the fabrics of these old embroideries have partly fallen away, leaving only frail fragments of the original material held together by the lasting threads of gold and silver.
The great amount of precious metals used in making the richest garments and hangings sometimes made them objects to be desired by avaricious invaders. In an inventory of the contents of Cardinal Wolsey’s great palace at Hampton Court there are mentioned, among many other rare specimens of needlework of that period, “230 bed hangings of English embroidery.” None of them is now in existence, and it is supposed that they were torn apart in order to fill the coffers of [Pg 38] some vandal who preferred the metal in them to their beauty as hangings.
Among the sumptuous furnishings belonging to the Tudor period, applied work held a prominent place. Vast spaces of cold palace walls were covered by great wall hangings, archways were screened, and every bed was enclosed with curtains made of stoutly woven material, usually more or less ornamented. This was before the advent of French tapestry, which later supplanted the English appliqué wall draperies. The Tudor period was also the time when great rivalry in dress existed. “The esquire endeavoured to outshine the knight, the knight the baron, the baron the earl, the earl the king himself, in the richness of his apparel.”
Made about 1850. Colours: blue and white
A modern quilt after an old pattern. Colours: light blue and white
In direct contrast to the long inventories of beautiful and valuable clothing, bedcovers, and hangings of the rich, are the meagre details relating to the life and household effects of the landless English peasant. In all probability he copied as far as he was able some of the utilities and comforts used by his superiors. If he possessed a cover for his bed, it was doubtless made of the cheapest woven material obtainable. No doubt the pieced [Pg 39] or patched quilt contributed materially to his comfort. In “Arts and Crafts in the Middle Ages,” Julia de Wolf Addison describes a child’s bed quilt included in an inventory of furniture at the Priory in Durham in 1446, “which was embroidered in the four corners with the Evangelistic symbols.” In the “Squier of Lowe Degree,” a fifteenth-century romance, there is allusion to a bed of which the head sheet is described as embroidered “with diamonds and rubies bright.”
It was during the gorgeous reign of Henry VIII that the finest specimens of combined embroidery and patchwork, now preserved in various museums, were made. It was really patch upon patch, for before the motives were applied to the foundation they were elaborately embroidered in intricate designs; and after being applied, they had their edges couched with gold and silver cord and ornate embroidery stitches. Mrs. Lowes relates in “Old Lace and Needlework” that, during the time of Henry VIII, embroidery, as distinct from garment making, appeared; and every article of wearing apparel became an object worthy of decoration. “Much fine stitching was put into the fine white undergarments of that time, and the overdresses [Pg 40] of both men and women became stiff with gold thread and jewels. Much use was made of slashing and quilting, the point of junction being dotted with pearls and precious stones. Noble ladies wore dresses heavily and richly embroidered with gold, and the train was so weighty that train bearers were pressed into service. In the old paintings the horses belonging to kings and nobles wear trappings of heavily embroidered gold. Even the hounds, which are frequently represented with their masters, have collars massively decorated with gold bullion.”
Mary, Queen of Scots, was devoted to the needle and was expert in its use. It is said that while in France she learned lace making and embroidery. Many wall hangings, bed draperies, bedcovers, and house linens are the work of her skilful fingers, or were made under her personal direction. A number of examples of her work are now owned by the Duke of Devonshire. It is said also that many of the French costumes and laces of her wardrobe were appropriated by Queen Elizabeth, who had little sympathy for the unfortunate queen. As a solace during long days of loneliness, Queen Mary found consolation in her needle, as [Pg 41] have many women of lower degree before and since her unhappy time. She stands forth as the most expert and indefatigable of royal needleworkers.
THE IRIS DESIGN
In this design the iris has been conventionalized so as to make it consistent with its natural growth—the flowers stretching up in a stately array beyond their long-pointed leaves
Hardwick Hall is intimately associated with Queen Mary’s life, and is rich in relics of her industry. In one room named for her there are bed curtains and a quilt said to be her own work. Extracts from old letters relating to her conduct during captivity show how devoted she was to her needlework. An attendant, on being asked how the queen passed her time, wrote, “that all day she wrought with her nydil and that the diversity of the colours made the work seem less tedious and that she contynued so long at it that veray payn made hir to give over.” This shows that fatigue alone made her desist from her beloved work.
There is a very interesting fragment of a bed hanging at Hardwick Hall said to have been made by Queen Mary. It is of applied patchwork, with cream-coloured medallions curiously ornamented by means of designs singed with a hot iron upon the light-coloured velvet. The singed birds, flowers, and butterflies are outlined with black silk thread. The worked medallions are applied to a foundation of green velvet, ornamented between [Pg 42] and around them with yellow silk cord. This is only one of a number of examples of curious and beautiful patchwork still in existence and attributed to the Tudor period.
Queen Elizabeth herself was not devoted to needlework, but judging from the accounts of the gorgeous costumes which she delighted to wear, she was one of its greatest patronesses. It is said that at her death she left one of the most extensive wardrobes of history: in it were more than a thousand dresses, which were most voluminous in style and elaborately trimmed with bullion, pearls, and jewels. Before the precious stones were applied, her garments were solidly covered with gold and silver quilting and embroidery, which made them so heavy as to be a noticeable burden even for this proud and ambitious queen. In Berkeley Castle, as prized mementoes of Queen Elizabeth, are five white linen cushions beautifully embroidered with silver threads and cherry-coloured silk. Also with them is the quilt, a wonderful piece of needlework, that matches the hangings of the bed wherein she slept.
STAR OF THE EAST
Elaborate pineapple quilting designs in the corners. Colours: red and white
WHITE QUILT WITH TUFTED BORDER
Now in Metropolitan Museum, New York
The magnificence of Queen Elizabeth’s reign gave great impetus to all kinds of needlework. [Pg 43] France at that time led in the development of fine arts, and furnished many of the skilled workmen employed by the nobility solely as embroiderers. There seemed to be no limit to the ambitions of these workers, and the gorgeous results of their labours were beyond anything attempted after them.
To those who wish to study the work of the Tudor period, Hardwick Hall is recommended as the place where the best specimens have been preserved. To Elizabeth, daughter of John Hardwick, born in 1520, and so poor that her marriage portion as the bride of the Earl of Shrewsbury was only thirty pounds, credit is given for the richness of this collection. She was a woman of great ability in the management of her estates, became very wealthy, and gave employment to many people. Included among her dependents were many needleworkers who plied their trade under rigorous administration. Elizabeth of Shrewsbury was a hard mistress, but not above doing an occasional bit of needlework herself, for some pieces bearing her initials and done with remarkable skill are preserved in the collection. She, as much as any Englishwoman, fostered and developed applied [Pg 44] patchwork along the ambitious line of pictorial needlework.
In Hardwick Hall are several hangings of pictorial needlework that are very interesting. One of black velvet has a picture of a lady strongly resembling Queen Elizabeth. She carries a book in her hand and at her feet reclines a turbaned Turk. In the background is an ecclesiastical hanging which is embroidered to represent a cathedral window. The realistic effect of the whole picture is gained by the use of coloured silks cut in correct proportions and applied to the velvet foundation; very little embroidery entering into the main composition. Another hanging, also of black velvet, has an even more ambitious design. It is described by M. Jourdain in “The History of English Secular Embroidery” as follows: “The ornamentation on the black velvet is with appliqué in coloured silks consisting of figures under arches. In the centre is ‘Lucrecia,’ on the left ‘Chastite,’ and on the right ‘Liberalitas.’ The oval panel on the right contains a shield bearing the arms of Hardwick.” At each end of the hanging are fluted Ionic columns, and a decorated frieze is carried across the top. The figures have grace and beauty; [Pg 45] the drapery of their robes falls in natural folds; and altogether it is a remarkable picture to have been made with patches.
That this fine collection of medieval needlework is preserved for the admiration of people to-day is due to the faithful execution of the Countess of Shrewsbury’s will, in which she left all her household furnishings, entailed as heirlooms, to always remain in her House of Hardwick.
In the interesting Hardwick collection are pieces of beautiful needlework known to have been used by Mary, Queen of Scots, during the years she spent as a prisoner at Tutbury. Her rooms there, furnished in regal splendour, are still kept just as she arranged them. The Earl of Shrewsbury was her custodian, and his wife, the countess, often sat and sewed with the unfortunate queen, both making pastime of their needlework.
During the Middle Ages appliqué was in universal use, and not confined merely to wall hangings, quilts, and bed draperies. It was used to ornament all kinds of wearing apparel, including caps, gloves, and shoes. Special designs were made for upholstery, but because of the hard wear imposed upon stools and chairs but [Pg 46] few specimens of this work have been preserved.
Quilting also came into vogue in the making of bedspreads, of which great numbers were required during the winter nights in the poorly heated bedrooms. The quilts intended for service were made of substantial, well-wearing material. None of these strictly utilitarian quilts is left, but they were certainly plentiful. The old chroniclers give us a glimpse of what the women of these days cherished by telling us that in 1540 Katherine Howard, afterward wife of Henry VIII, was presented with twenty-three quilts of Sarsenet, closely quilted, from the Royal Wardrobe.
Tradition says that, during the reign of Henry VIII, the much used and popular “black work” or “Spanish work” was introduced into England by his Spanish wife, Catherine of Aragon. It has been found that this work did not originate in Spain but was taken there probably by the Moors or by the Crusaders, for it is known to have been perfected at a very remote period in both Persia and China. The following interesting description of black work is from Mrs. Lowes’ “Chats on Old Lace and Needlework”:
SUNBURST AND WHEEL OF FORTUNE
Comparatively modern quilts. Colours: blue and white
TREE OF PARADISE
Made in Indiana over 75 years ago. Colours: red and green
[Pg 47] “The work itself was a marvel of neatness, precision, and elegant design, but the result cannot be said to have been commensurate with the labour of its production. More frequently the design was of scrollwork, worked with a fine black silk back stitching or chain stitch. Round and round the stitches go, following each other closely. Bunches of grapes are frequently worked solidly, and even the popular peascod is worked in outline stitch, and often the petit point period lace stitches are copied, and roses and birds worked separately and afterward stitched to the design.” There are many examples of this famous “Spanish work” in the South Kensington Museum in London. Quilts, hangings, coats, caps, jackets, smocks, are all to be seen, some with a couched thread of gold and silver following the lines of the scrolls. This is said to be the Spanish stitch referred to in the old list of stitches, and very likely may be so, as the style and manner are certainly not English; and we know that Catherine of Aragon brought wonders of Spanish stitchery with her, and she herself was devoted to the use of the needle. The story of how, when called before Cardinal Wolsey and Campeggio, to answer to King Henry’s [Pg 48] accusations, she had a skein of embroidery silk round her neck, is well known.
“The black silk outline stitchery on linen lasted well through the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Very little of it is seen outside the museums, as, not being strikingly beautiful or attractive, it has been destroyed. Another phase of the same stitchery was working cotton and linen garments, hangings and quilts in a kind of quilted pattern with yellow silk. The finest materials were used, the padding being placed bit by bit into its place. The quilting work was made in tiny panels, illustrating shields and other heraldic devices, and had a surface as fine as carved ivory. When, as in the case of one sample at South Kensington, the quilt is additionally embroidered with fine floss silk flowers, the effect is very lovely.”
One interesting feature of “black work” and similar flat embroideries was their constant use in decorating furnishings for the bedroom. It was peculiarly well adapted for quilts, as its rather smooth surface admirably resisted wear.
OLD BED WITH QUILT AND CANOPY AND TRUNDLE BED BENEATH
Now in Memorial Hall, Deerfield, Mass.
TWO WHITE TUFTED BEDSPREADS
Both made in Pennsylvania about 100 years ago
Fashions in needlework changed, but not with the same rapidity as in clothing. Gradually ideas and customs from other countries crept into [Pg 49] England and new influences were felt. An established trade with the Orient brought Eastern products to her markets, and oriental designs in needlework became popular. About this time “crewel” was much in vogue. This was embroidery done with coloured woollen threads and was a step backward in the art. Some of this “crewel” work, done in the seventeenth century, is described by M. Jourdain in “English Secular Embroidery”: “These hangings, bed curtains, quilts, and valances are of linen or a mixture of cotton and linen, and one type is embroidered with bold, freely designed patterns in worsted. They are worked almost always in dull blues and greens mixed with more vivid greens and some browns, but rarely any other colouring.”
A very curious custom of these days was the use of “mourning beds,” with black hangings, coverlets, and even sheets. As these funereal articles of furniture were quite expensive, it was a friendly custom to lend these mourning beds to families in time of affliction. In 1644 Mrs. Eure wrote to Sir Ralph Verney: “Sweet Nephew, I am now overrun with miserys and troubles, but the greatest misfortune that could happen to me was the death of the gallantest man (her husband) that I ever [Pg 50] knew.” Whereupon Sir Ralph, full of sympathy, “offers her the loan of the great black bed and hangings from Claydon.”
Interesting indeed are descriptions of wonderful old quilts that are now guarded with zealous care in English museums. One, an original and striking design, is closely quilted all over in small diamonds. Upon it is embroidered an orange tree in full leaf and loaded with fruit. This tree, together with the fancy pot in which it is planted, covers practically the entire quilt. In the lower corners a gentleman is shown picking oranges and a lady in a patient attitude is waiting to receive them, the figures of both being scarcely taller than the flower pot. The whole design is made up of gayly coloured silks evidently worked in after the quilting was done. Mention is also made of an elaborate quilt said to be the work of Queen Anne, which is preserved at Madresfield Court. Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, in giving an order for house furnishings for her “wild, unmerciful house” about 1720, asks for “a vast number of feather beds, some filled with swansdown, and a vast number of quilts.”
Mrs. Delany, who lived from 1700 to 1788, and left a large correspondence relating to needlework, [Pg 51] which was later edited by Lady Llanover, was a most prolific worker with her needle as well as a profuse letter writer. She was often quoted as an authority and given credit for much originality in her designs. A quilt that she made is described as follows: “Of white linen worked in flowers, the size of nature, delineated with the finest coloured silks in running stitch, which is made use of in the same way as by a pen etching on paper; the outline was drawn with pencil. Each flower is different, and evidently done at the moment from the original.” Another quilt of Mrs. Delany’s was made upon a foundation of nankeen. This was unique in that no colours were used besides the dull yellow of the background. Applied designs of leaves tied together with ribbons, all cut from white linen and stitched to the nankeen with white thread, made a quilt no wise resembling the silken ones of earlier periods. This quilt may be termed a forerunner of the vast array of pieced and patched washable quilts belonging to the nineteenth century.
The embroidering of quilts followed the process of quilting, which afforded the firm foundation essential for heavy and elaborate designs. There [Pg 52] were many quilts made of white linen quilted with yellow silk thread, and afterward embroidered very tastefully with yellow silk floss. Terry, in the history of his “Voyage to the East Indies,” made about the middle of the seventeenth century, says: “The natives show very much ingenuity in their manufactures, also in making excellent quilts of their stained cloth, or of fresh-coloured taffeta lined with their prints, or of their satin with taffeta, betwixt which they put cotton wool, and work them together with silk.”
Among many articles in a list of Eastern products, which Charles I, in 1631, permitted to be brought to England, were “quilts of China embroidered in Gold.” There is a possibility that these quilts were appreciated quite as much for the precious metal used in the embroidery as for the beauty of design and workmanship. It was but a short time after this that women began to realize how much gold and silver had gone into all forms of needlework. They looked upon rare and beautiful embroidery with greedy eyes, and a deplorable fashion sprang up, known in France as “parfilage” and in England as “drizzling.” This was nothing more or less than ripping up, stitch [Pg 53] by stitch, the magnificent old hangings, quilts, and even church vestments, to secure gold and silver thread. Lady Mary Coke, writing from the Austrian Court, says: “All the ladies who do not play cards pick gold. It is the most general fashion I ever saw, and they all carry their bags containing the necessary tools in their pockets. They even begged sword knots, epaulettes, and galons that they might add more of the precious threads to the spool on which they wound the ravelled bullion, which they sold.” To the appreciative collector this seems wanton sacrilege.
TUFTED BEDSPREAD WITH KNOTTED FRINGE
A design of very remarkable beauty. Over 100 years old
A New England quilt about 115 years old. Colours: once bright red and green are now old rose and dull green. The original quilting designs are very beautiful
John Locke, 1632-1704, a very famous man of Charles II’s time, and one of the greatest philosophers and ardent champions of civil and religious rights which England ever produced, mentioned quilts in his “Thoughts Concerning Education.” In telling of the correct sort of beds for children he writes as follows: “Let his Bed be hard, and rather Quilts than Feathers. Hard Lodging strengthens the Parts, whereas being buryed every Night in Feathers melts and dissolves the Body.... Besides, he that is used to hard Lodging at Home will not miss his Sleep (where he has most Need of it) in his travels [Pg 54] Abroad for want of his soft Bed, and his Pillows laid in Order.”
Pepys, a contemporary of Locke, in his incomparable and delicious Diary, remarks: “Home to my poor wife, who works all day like a horse, at the making of her hanging for our chamber and bed,” thus telling us that he was following the fashion of the day in having wall, window, and bed draperies alike. It is plain, too, by his frequent “and so to bed,” that his place of sleep and rest was one of comfort in his house.
A quilt depending solely upon the stitching used in quilting, whether it be of the simple running stitch, the back stitch, or the chain stitch, is not particularly ornamental. However, when viewed at close range, the effect is a shadowy design in low relief that has a distinctive but modest beauty when well done. Early in the eighteenth century a liking for this fashion prevailed, and was put to a variety of uses. Frequently there was no interlining between the right and wrong sides. At Canons Ashby there are now preserved some handsome quilted curtains of this type, belonging to Sir Alfred Dryden, Baronet.
More than 85 years old. Colours: rose, pink, and green
Made in Ohio, date unknown. The tulips are made of red calico covered with small yellow flowers. The roses have yellow centres
During the Middle Ages instruction in the use [Pg 55] of the needle was considered a necessary part of the English girl’s education. By the seventeenth century “working fine works with the needle” was considered of equal importance with singing, dancing, and French in the accomplishments of a lady of quality. In the eighteenth century much the same sentiment prevailed, and Lady Montagu is quoted as saying: “It is as scandalous for a woman not to know how to use a needle as for a man not to know how to use a sword.”
The Spectator of that time sarcastically tells of two sisters highly educated in domestic arts who spend so much time making cushions and “sets of hangings” that they had never learned to read and write! A sober-minded old lady, grieved by frivolous nieces, begs the Spectator “to take the laudable mystery of embroidery into your serious consideration,” for, says she, “I have two nieces, who so often run gadding abroad that I do not know when to have them. Those hours which, in this age, are thrown away in dress, visits, and the like, were employed in my time in writing out receipts, or working beds, chairs, and hangings for the family. For my part I have plied the needle these fifty years, and by my good-will would never [Pg 56] have it out of my hand. It grieves my heart to see a couple of proud, idle flirts sipping the tea for a whole afternoon in a room hung round with the industry of their great-grandmothers.” Another old lady of the eighteenth century, Miss Hutton, proudly makes the following statement of the results of years of close application to the needle: “I have quilted counterpanes and chest covers in fine white linen, in various patterns of my own invention. I have made patchwork beyond calculation.”
Emblems and motifs were great favourites with the quilt workers of “ye olden times” and together with mottoes were worked into many pieces of embroidery. The following mottoes were copied from an old quilt made in the seventeenth century: “Covet not to wax riche through deceit,” “He that has lest witte is most poore,” “It is better to want riches than witte,” “A covetous man cannot be riche.”
In one of their many beautiful and delicate varieties were chosen for this quilt, and while the design is conventional to a certain extent it shows the natural grace of the growing vine
The needle and its products have always been held in great esteem in England, and many of the old writers refer to needlework with much respect. In 1640 John Taylor, sometimes called the “Water Poet,” published a collection of essays, etc., called [Pg 57] “The Needle’s Excellency,” which was very popular in its day and ran through twelve editions. In it is a long poem entitled, “The Prayse of the Needle.” The following are the opening lines:
It is interesting to read what Elizabeth Glaister, an Englishwoman, writes of quilts in England:
“Perhaps no piece of secular needlework gave our ancestors more satisfaction, both in the making and when made, as the quilt or bed coverlet. We have seen a good many specimens of them, both of the real quilted counterpanes, in which several thicknesses of material were stitched together into a solid covering, and the lighter silken or linen coverlets ornamented with all sorts of embroidery. Cradle quilts also were favourite pieces of needlework and figure in inventories of Henry VIII’s time.
[Pg 58] “The real quilts were very handsome and the amount of labour bestowed on them was enormous. The seventeenth century was a great time for them, and the work of this period is generally very good. The quilting of some of them is made by sewing several strands of thick cotton between the fine linen of the surface and the lining. When one line was completed the cotton was laid down again next to it, and another line formed.
“A sort of shell pattern was a favourite for quilting. When a sufficient space was covered with the ground pattern, flowers or other ornaments were embroidered on this excellent foundation. Perhaps the best results as a work of art were attained when both quilting and flowers were done in bright yellow silk; the effect of this colour on a white ground being always particularly good. A handsome quilt may be worked with a darned background. It is done most easily on huckaback towelling of rather loose weave, running the needle under the raised threads for the ground.
Made in Indiana about 1835. Colours: soft dull green and old rose
PRINCESS FEATHERS WITH BORDER
Notice the maple leaf inserted in the border. Colours: red and green
“A very effective quilt in quite a different style is made in applied work on unbleached cotton sheeting. A pattern of yellow fruit or flower with leaves is cut out in coloured serges sewn on with [Pg 59] crewels in buttonhole stitch; stems, veins, and buds being also worked in crewels, and the ground slightly darned in dim yellow crewel. It is elaborate, but a very pleasant and repaying piece of work.
“Many beautiful old quilts are made of silk and satin embroidered in pure silks or in gold and silver twist. Most of the best specimens are from France and Italy, where from the arrangement of the houses the beds have continued to be more en evidence than has been the case in England for the last two centuries. Many also are of Indian origin; the ground of these is sometimes of fine soft silk and sometimes of thick muslin, over which the pattern is worked in silk. Others, though of Indian workmanship, show a European influence, of which the most curious are those worked at Goa, under Portuguese dominion in the seventeenth century.”
The Quilt in America
THE date of the quilt’s advent into America is unknown, and—because of the lack of knowledge concerning the house furnishings of the early colonists—can never be positively determined. Quilts were in such general use and were considered as such ordinary articles that the early writers about family life in the colonies neglected to mention them. We do know, however, that quilted garments, bedspreads, curtains, and the like were very essential to the comfort and well-being of the original settlers along the Atlantic seaboard.
About 75 years old. Made for exhibition at state fairs in the Middle West. Colours: red, green, and yellow
NORTH CAROLINA LILY
Over 80 years old. Flowers: red and green; the border has green buds with red centres. The quilting designs are remarkable for their beauty and originality
Extensive investigation has shown that the introduction of the arts of patchwork and quilting to the American continent is due entirely to the English and the Dutch. No evidence has been found that Spanish or French colonists made use of quilting. The Spaniards in the warm lands of [Pg 61] the South had little real need of warm clothing, and—outside of possible appliqué heraldic devices on the coats of the early explorers—may be considered as having brought to the New World none of the art so popular in Spain at the time. The French who opened up Canada brought none of the quilting or patchwork of France with them. While needlework was taught at a very early date in the convents of Quebec, it was apparently only the more fanciful kinds of embroidery. As a protection against the biting northern winters, the early French settlers sought protection under furs, which could be obtained quite readily in the great woods. To secure more bed clothing, it was very much easier to engage in a little hunting than to go through the laborious processes of piecing and quilting. To both Spanish and French, the new world was strictly a man’s country—to adventure in and win riches upon which to retire to a life of ease in their native lands. With them, therefore, the inspiration of founding a home and providing it with the comforts of life was lacking; and without such inspiration the household arts could never flourish.
The English and Dutch planted their colonies [Pg 62] along the coast from Virginia to Massachusetts with the primary object of founding new homes for themselves. With them came their wives and daughters, who brought along as their portion such household comforts and conveniences as they possessed. Under their willing hands spinning, weaving, and the manufacture of garments began immediately. Their poorly heated log houses made necessary an adequate supply of bedding and hangings for protection against the winter cold. Substantial, heavy curtains, frequently lined and quilted, were hung over both doors and windows and were kept closely drawn during the bitter winter nights. In the more imposing homes were silk damask curtains with linings of quilted silk to keep out the drafts of cold that swept through the rooms.
In Massachusetts in the early colonial days quilted garments, especially petticoats, were in general use. It is a curious circumstance that we owe this bit of information largely to the description of runaway slaves. The Boston News Letter of October, 1707, contains an advertisement describing an Indian woman who ran away, clad in the best garments she could purloin from her mistress’s wardrobe: “A tall Lusty Carolina Indian [Pg 63] Woman, named Keziah Wampun Had on a striped red, blue and white Home-spun Jacket and a Red one, a Black and quilted White Silk Crape Petticoat, a White Shift and also a blue with her, and a mixt Blue and White Linsey Woolsey Apron.” In 1728 the News Letter published an advertisement of a runaway Indian servant who, wearied by the round of domestic drudgery, adorned herself in borrowed finery and fled: “She wore off a Narrow Stript pinck cherredary Gown turned up with a little floured red and white Callico. A Stript Home-spun quilted petticoat, a plain muslin Apron, a suit of plain Pinners and a red and white flowered knot, also a pair of green stone earrings, with white cotton stockings and leather heel’d wooden shoes.”
A few items in a list of articles ordered from England for a New England bride, Miss Judith Sewall, who was married in 1720, give some idea of what was considered as a suitable wedding outfit during that period. The bride belonged to a rich family and no doubt had furnishings much more extensive than usual: “A Duzen of good Black Walnut Chairs, A Duzen Cane Chairs, and a great chair for a chamber, all black Walnut. One Duzen large [Pg 64] Pewter Plates, new fashion, a Duzen Ivory-hafted knives and forks. Four Duzen small glass salt cellars, Curtains and Vallens for a Bed with Counterpane, Head Cloth, and Tester made of good yellow watered camlet with Trimming. Send also of the same camlet and trimming as may be enough to make cushions for the chamber chairs. A good fine larger Chintz quilt, well made.” This list also includes such items as kitchen utensils, warming pans, brass fenders, tongs, and shovels, and “four pairs of large Brass candlesticks.”
As the resources of the new country were developed, the women were given some respite from their spinning, weaving, and garment making. Much of their hard-won leisure was spent piecing quilts. In the rigorous climate of bleak New England there was great need of warm clothing and bedding, and the spare moments of the housekeeper were largely occupied in increasing her supply. To make the great amount of bedding necessary in the unheated sleeping rooms, every scrap and remnant of woollen material left from the manufacture of garments was saved. To supplement these, the best parts of worn-out garments were carefully cut out, and made into quilt pieces.
FEATHER STAR WITH APPLIQUÉ
The “Feather Star” pieced blocks alternate with blue and white blocks on which are applied scroll designs. This quilt, which is the only one of this pattern, was made about 1835. It was designed by a Mr. Hamill for his sweetheart, Mary Hayward
TULIP TREE LEAVES
A modern quilt made by the mountaineers of South Carolina. Colours: light blue and pink
[Pg 65] Beautiful, even gorgeous, materials were imported for costumes of the wives and daughters of the wealthy colonists. There may be a greater variety of fabrics woven to-day, but none is more splendid in texture and colour than those worn by the stately ladies of colonial times. The teachings of the strict Puritans advocated plainness and simplicity of dress; even the ministers in the churches preached against the “sinfulness of display of fine raiment.” Notwithstanding the teachings and pleadings of the clergy, there was great rivalry in dress among the inhabitants of the larger colonial towns. “Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,” was unnecessary advice to give to the rich colonist or to his wife. Men’s attire was also of costly velvets lined with handsome brocades; beautifully embroidered waistcoats, silk stockings, and gold lace trimmings were further additions to their costumes during the pre-Revolutionary period.
After these gay and costly fabrics had served their time as wearing apparel, they were carefully preserved and made over into useful articles for the household. The pinch of hard times during the struggle for independence made it imperative for many well-to-do families to economize. [Pg 66] Consequently, in many old patchwork quilts may be found bits of the finest silks, satins, velvets, and brocades, relics of more prosperous days.
Alice Morse Earle, in her charming book on “Home Life in Colonial Days,” gives us a rare insight into our great-grandmothers’ fondness for patchwork, and how highly they prized their bits of highly coloured fabrics:
“The feminine love of colour, the longing for decoration, as well as pride in skill of needlecraft, found riotous expression in quilt making. Women revelled in intricate and difficult patchwork; they eagerly exchanged patterns with one another; they talked over the designs, and admired pretty bits of calico and pondered what combinations to make, with far more zest than women ever discuss art or examine high art specimens together to-day. There was one satisfactory condition in the work, and that was the quality of cottons and linens of which the patchwork was made. Real India chintzes and palampores are found in these quilts, beautiful and artistic stuffs, and the firm, unyielding, high-priced, ‘real’ French calicoes.
Made in 1842. Colours: red and green. Note the exquisite quilting
CURRANTS AND COCKSCOMB
Small red berries combined with conventionalized leaves. This quilt has captured first prizes at many state fairs
“Portions of discarded uniforms, old coat and cloak linings, brilliantly dyed worn flannel shirts [Pg 67] and well-worn petticoats were component parts of quilts that were needed for warmth. A magnificent scarlet cloak, worn by a Lord Mayor of London and brought to America by a member of the Merrit family of Salisbury, Massachusetts, went through a series of adventures and migrations and ended its days as small bits of vivid colour, casting a grateful glory and variety on a patchwork quilt in the Saco Valley of Maine.
“Around the outstretched quilt a dozen quilters could sit, running the whole together with fanciful set designs of stitchery. Sometimes several quilts were set up, and I know of a ten days’ quilting bee in Narragansett in 1752.”
The women who came from Holland to make their homes on the narrow island at the mouth of the Hudson were housekeepers of traditional Dutch excellence. They delighted in well-stocked linen closets and possessed unusual quantities of sheets, pillow cases, and bedding, mostly of their own spinning and weaving. Like their English neighbours to the north, in Connecticut and Massachusetts, they adopted quilted hangings and garments for protection against the severity of winter. Their quilted petticoats were the pride and joy of [Pg 68] these transplanted Hollanders, and in their construction they exerted their highest talents in design and needlework. These petticoats, which were worn short enough to display the home-knitted hose, were thickly interlined as well as quilted. They were very warm, as the interlining was usually of wool. The fuller the purse, the richer and gayer were the petticoats of the New Amsterdam dames.
While not so strict in religious matters as their Puritan neighbours, the early inhabitants of New Amsterdam always observed Sunday and attended church regularly. Within the fort at the battery stood the church, built of “Manhattan Stone” in 1642. Its two peaked roofs with the watch-tower between was the most prominent object of the fortress. “On Sunday mornings the two main streets, Broadway and Whitehall, were filled with dignified and sedate churchgoers arrayed in their best clothes. The tucked-up panniers worn by the women displayed to the best advantage the quilted petticoats. Red, blue, black, and white were the favourite and predominating colours, and the different materials included fine woollen cloth, camlet, grosgrain silk, and satin. Of all the [Pg 69] articles of feminine attire of that period the quilted petticoat was the most important. They were worn short, displaying the low shoes with high heels and coloured hose with scarlet clockings; silken hoods partially covered their curled and powdered hair; altogether a charming and delightful picture.”
The low, flat land of South Manhattan lying along the Hudson, because of its similarity to their mother country, was a favourite dwelling-place in New Netherlands. This region, known as Flatbush, was quickly covered with Dutch homes and big, orderly, flourishing gardens. A descendant of one of the oldest Dutch families which settled in this locality, Mrs. Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt, in her book, “The Social History of Flatbush,” has given many interesting details of early New York life. She tells of the place quilt making held in the community, and how the many intricate patterns of patchwork pleasantly occupied the spare moments of the women, thus serving as a means of expression of their love of colour and design. The following little domestic picture shows how conveniently near the thrifty housewife kept her quilt blocks: “A low chair with a [Pg 70] seat of twisted osier, on which was tied a loose feather-filled cushion, covered with some gay material. On the back of these chairs hung the bag of knitting, with the little red stocking and shining needles plainly visible, indicating that this was the favourite seat of the industrious mother of the family; or a basket of patchwork held its place upon a low stool (bankje) beside the chair, also to be snatched up at odd intervals (ledige tyd).”
One reliable source of information of the comforts and luxuries that contributed to pleasant dwelling in old New York is found in old inventories of household effects. Occasionally complete lists are found that throw much light on the furnishings of early days. Such an inventory of the household belongings of Captain John Kidd, before he went to sea and turned pirate, mentions over sixty different kinds of house furnishings, from a skillet to a dozen chairs embellished with Turkish embroidery. Among the articles with which John Kidd and his wife Sarah began housekeeping in New York in 1692, as recorded in this inventory, were four bedsteads, with three suits of hangings, curtains, and valances to go with them. Feather beds, feather pillows, linen sheets, tablecloths, and [Pg 71] napkins, ten blankets, and three quilts. How much of this store of household linens was part of his wife’s wedding dower is not stated.
The designs are buttonholed around. Colours: soft green and rose. This quilt is over 100 years old
Colours: red and yellow. Seventy-five years old
The early settlers in Virginia and the Carolinas were mostly English of the better class, who had been landed proprietors with considerable retinues of servants. As soon as these original colonists secured a firm foothold, large estates were developed on which the manners and customs of old England were followed as closely as possible. Each plantation became a self-supporting community, since nearly all the actual necessities were produced or manufactured thereon. The loom worked ceaselessly, turning the wool, cotton, and flax into household commodities, and even the shoes for both slave and master were made from home-tanned leather. For their luxuries, the ships that carried tobacco and rice to the English markets returned laden with books, wines, laces, silverware, and beautiful house furnishings of every description.
In the colonial plantation days of household industry quilts, both patchwork and plain, were made in considerable numbers. Quilts were then in such general use as to be considered too commonplace [Pg 72] to be described or even mentioned. Consequently, we are forced to depend for evidence of their existence in those days on bills of sale and inventories of auctions. These records, however, constitute an authority which cannot be questioned.
In 1774 Belvoir, the home of the Fairfax family, one of the largest and most imposing of houses of Virginia, was sold and its contents were put up at auction. A partial list of articles bought at this sale by George Washington, then Colonel Washington, and here given, will show the luxury to which the Southern planter was accustomed: “A mahogany shaving desk, settee bed and furnishings, four mahogany chairs, oval glass with gilt frame, mahogany sideboard, twelve chairs, and three window curtains from dining-room. Several pairs of andirons, tongs, shovels, toasting forks, pickle pots, wine glasses, pewter plates, many blankets, pillows, bolsters, and nineteen coverlids.”
For a child’s bed
It was customary in the good old days after a dinner or ball for the guests, who necessarily came from long distances, to stay all night, and many bedrooms, frequently from ten to twenty-five, besides those needed for the family, were provided in the big houses. All were beautifully furnished [Pg 73] with imported, massive, carved furniture from France and England. In one year, 1768, in Charlestown, South Carolina, occurred twelve weddings among the wealthy residents of that city, and all the furniture for these rich couples came from England. The twelve massive beds with canopies supported by heavily carved posts, decorated with rice stalks and full heads of grain, were so high that steps were needed in order to climb into them. Elaborate and expensive curtains and spreads were furnished to correspond. In one early inventory of an extensively furnished house there are mentioned “four feather beds, bolsters, two stools, looking-glass tipt with silver, two Turkey carpets, one yellow mohair bed counterpane, and two green silk quilts.” From this it is evident that the quilt had already found its place, and no doubt in great numbers, on account of the many beds to furnish in the spacious house of the rich planters.
Shortly after the Revolution came the great migration from Virginia over the ridges of the Blue and the Appalachian chains into what was then the wilderness of Tennessee and Kentucky. The descendants of these hardy pioneers who first forced their way westward still live among the [Pg 74] Kentucky and Virginia hills under the conditions which prevailed a hundred years ago. In this heavily timbered rough country they manage to eke out a precarious existence by cultivating small hillside patches of cotton, corn, and a few vegetables. Immured in the seclusion of the mountains they have remained untouched by the world’s progress during the past century. Year after year they are satisfied to live this secluded existence, and but rarely make an acquaintance with a stranger. Educational advantages, except of the most elementary sort, are almost unknown, and the majority of these mountaineers neither read nor write. As a result of this condition of isolated and primitive living, existing in the mountains of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Carolinas, the household crafts that flourished in this country before the advent of machinery are still carried on exactly as in the old days.
This “Rose” quilt was made in Ohio about 80 years ago. Colours: red, pink, and two shades of green
ROSE OF SHARON
Made in Indiana about 65 years ago. It has a wool interlining instead of the usual cotton
The simple needs of the family are almost entirely supplied by the women of the household. They spin, weave, and make the few plain garments which they and their families wear. Day after day, year in and year out, these isolated women must fill in the hours with little tasks connected with [Pg 75] home life. As in many other instances where women are dependent upon their own resources for amusement, they have recourse to their needles. Consequently, it is in the making of quilts, coverlets, and allied forms of needlework that these mountain women spend their hours of recreation.
The quilts, both pieced and patched, that are made in mountaineers’ cabins have a great variety of designs. Many designs have been used again and again by each succeeding generation of quilters without any variation whatever, and have well-known names. There are also designs that have been originated by a proficient quilt maker, who has made use of some common flower as the basis for her conventional design. It has not been a great many years since the materials used in making the mountain quilts were dyed as well as woven in the home. The dyes were homemade from common roots and shrubs gathered from nearby woods and meadows. Blue was obtained from wild indigo; brown from walnut hulls; black from the bark of scrub-oak; and yellow from laurel leaves. However, the materials which must be purchased for a quilt are so meagre, and the colours called “oil boiled”—now used to dye calico—are so fast, that the mountain [Pg 76] women seldom dye their own fabrics any more. They bring in a few chickens or eggs to the nearest village, and in exchange obtain a few yards of precious coloured calico for their quilts.
Miss Bessie Daingerfield, a Kentuckian, who is in close touch with these mountaineers, tells us what a void the quilt fills in the lives of the lonely women of the hills: “While contemporary women out in the world are waging feminist war, those in the mountains of the long Appalachian chain still sit at their quilting frames and create beauty and work wonders with patient needles. There is much beautiful and skilful handiwork hidden away in these hills. The old women still weave coverlets, towels, and table linen from wool from their own sheep and from flax grown in their own gardens. The girls adorn their cotton gowns with ‘compass work,’ exact, exquisite. In some places the men and boys, girls and women, make baskets of hickory reeds and willows to delight the heart of the collector. But from the cradle to the grave, the women make quilts. The tiny girl shows you with pride the completed four patch or nine patch, square piled on square, which ‘mammy aims to set up for her ag’inst spring.’ The mother tells you [Pg 77] half jesting, half in earnest, ‘the young un will have several ag’inst she has a home of her own.’ No bride of the old country has more pride in her dower chest than the mountain bride in her pile of quilts. The old woman will show you a stack of quilts from floor to ceiling of her cabin. One dear old soul told me she had eighty-four, all different, and ‘ever’ stitch, piecin’, settin’ up, quiltin’, my own work and ne’er another finger tetched hit.’”
Patchwork was an important factor in making plain the knotty problems of existence, as Eliza Calvert Hall clearly shows when she makes “Aunt Jane of Kentucky” say: “How much piecin’ a quilt is like livin’ a life! Many a time I’ve set and listened to Parson Page preachin’ about predestination and free will, and I’ve said to myself, ‘If I could jest git up in the pulpit with one of my quilts I could make it a heap plainer to folks than parson’s makin’ it with his big words.’ You see, you start out with jest so much caliker; you don’t go to the store and pick it out and buy it, but the neighbours will give you a piece here and a piece there, and you’ll have a piece left over every time you cut a dress, and you take jest what happens to come. And that’s like predestination. But when [Pg 78] it comes to the cuttin’ out, why, you’re free to choose your own pattern. You can give the same kind o’ pieces to two persons, and one’ll make a ‘nine patch’ and one’ll make a ‘wild-goose chase,’ and there’ll be two quilts made out of the same kind of pieces, and jest as different as they can be. And that is jest the way with livin’. The Lord sends us the pieces, but we can cut them out and put ’em together pretty much to suit ourselves, and there’s a heap more in the cuttin’ out and the sewin’ than there is in the caliker.”
In the great Central West, from Ohio to the Mississippi, the early settlers passed through the same cycle of development as did their ancestors in the beginnings of the original colonies along the seaboard. The same dangers and privations were faced, and the women, as well as the men, quickly adapted themselves to the hardships of life in a new country. Shortly after the War of 1812, which secured to the United States a clear title to this vast region, the great migration into the Ohio Valley began. Some families came by way of the Great Lakes, some by wagon over the Pennsylvania ridges, and still others by horseback over the mountains from Virginia. One and all of these [Pg 79] pioneer families brought with them their most cherished household possessions. It is hardly necessary to say that every family had one or more quilts among its household goods. Many cases are on record of rare old mahogany bureaus and bedsteads transported hundreds of miles over trails through the wilderness on pack horses. Upon arrival at the site chosen for the future home, the real work of house building and furnishing began.
ORIGINAL FLORAL DESIGNS
This quilt contains twenty blocks, each of a different design. The border is composed of festoons decorated with cockscomb and sprays of flowers. A southern Indiana quilt made about 1825
Made from a pattern used 130 years ago. Colours: pink and green
“Only he who knows what it means to hew a home out of the forest; of what is involved in the task of replacing mighty trees with corn; only he who has watched the log house rising in the clearing, and has witnessed the devotedness that gathers around the old log schoolhouse and the pathos of a grave in the wilderness, can understand how sobriety, decency, age, devoutness, beauty, and power belong to the story of those who began the mighty task of changing the wild west into the heart of a teeming continent.” Thus Jenkin Lloyd Jones, in his address on “The Father of Lincoln,” gives a graphic picture of the labours and trials confronting those who made the first settlements in what are now the flourishing states of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Michigan.
[Pg 80] As in the colonies of New England, so here, the comforts of the family depended upon the thrift, energy, and thoughtfulness of the women. Practically every article of clothing worn by the entire family, as well as all household supplies, were the work of their busy hands. All day in the frontier cabin could be heard the hum of the spinning wheel, the clack of the loom, or the click of knitting needles. In many localities the added work of teaching the children fell to the mothers, and the home lessons given around the fireplace, heaped with glowing logs, were the only ones possible for many boys and girls. It is of particular interest to note how often learning and housekeeping went hand in hand in the first homes of this new country. The few lines following are extracts from the diary of a busy Indiana housewife of the period preceding the Mexican War, and show how fully occupied was the time of the pioneer woman:
“November 10th. To-day was cider-making day, and all were up at sunrise.”
“December 1st. We killed a beef to-day, the neighbours helping.”
A very striking pattern, made in Indiana about 75 years ago. Colours: red, pink, and green
CONVENTIONAL ROSE WREATH
This “Wreath of Roses” design has been in use for over 100 years. Colours: red, green, pink, and yellow
“December 4th. I was much engaged in trying [Pg 81] out my tallow. To-day I dipped candles and finished the ‘Vicar of Wakefield.’”
“December 8th. To-day I commenced to read the ‘Life of Washington,’ and I borrowed a singing book. Have been trying to make a bonnet. The cotton we raised served a very good purpose for candle-wicking when spun.”
In the Middle West, without friendly coöperation, the lot of the pioneer would have been much more difficult than it was. Julia Henderson Levering tells of the prevalence of this kindly custom in her interesting “Historic Indiana”: “The social pleasures of the earliest days were largely connected with the helpful neighbourhood assistance in the homely, necessary tasks of the frontier. If a new cabin was to be built, the neighbours assembled for the house raising, for the logs were too heavy to be handled alone. When a clearing was made, the log rolling followed. All men for miles around came to help, and the women to help cook and serve the bountiful meals. Then there were corn huskings, wool shearings, apple parings, sugar boilings, and quilting bees.”
About 1820 a new channel of commerce was opened to the inhabitants of the Ohio Valley, in [Pg 82] the advantages of which every household shared. This was the establishing of steamboat and flatboat communication with New Orleans. From out of the Wabash River alone over a thousand flatboats, laden with agricultural products, passed into the Ohio during the annual spring rise on their way to the seaport by the Gulf of Mexico. On their return voyage these boats were laden with sacks of coffee, quaint Chinese boxes of tea, china and silk from France, and mahogany and silver from England. In this manner the finest fabrics, which were hitherto obtainable only in those cities that possessed sea communication, were available in every river hamlet. Many of the fine old quilts now being brought to light in the Central West were wrought of foreign cloth which has made this long journey in some farmer’s scow.
In England during the middle of the past century, the Victorian period was known chiefly for its hideous array of cardboard mottoes done in brilliant wools, crochet tidies, and wax flowers. It is particularly fortunate that at this time the women of the United States were too fully occupied with their own household arts and industries to take up with the ideas of their English sisters. [Pg 83] By far the best needlework of this period were the beautiful quilts and bedspreads, exquisite in colour and design, which were the product of American women. The finest quilts were wrought along designs largely original with the quilters themselves, who plied their needles in solitary farmhouses and out-of-the-way hamlets to which the influence of English idea in needlework could not penetrate. In no locality in our country can so many rare and beautiful quilts be found as in the Middle West. Many of the best were made during those early days of struggle for mere existence, when they served the busy housewife as the one precious outlet for her artistic aspirations.
The type of quilt that may be called distinctively American was substantial in character; the material that entered into its construction was serviceable, of a good quality of cotton cloth, or handwoven linen, and the careful work put into it was intended to stand the test of time. The coloured materials combined with the white were also enduring, the colours being as nearly permanent as it was possible to procure. Some cottons were dyed by the quilt makers themselves, if desirable fast shades could not be readily procured otherwise. [Pg 84] The fundamental idea was to make a quilt that would withstand the greatest possible amount of wear. Some of the artistic possibilities in both colour and design were often subordinated to the desire to make quilts as nearly imperishable as possible. The painstaking needlework required to produce a quilt deserved the best of material for its foundation. Silks, satins, velvets, and fine linen and cotton fabrics of delicate shades were not favoured as quilt material by the old-time needleworkers, who wrought for service first and beauty afterward.
A most beautiful example of the American quilt at its best is found in the “Indiana Wreath.” Its pleasing design, harmonious colours, and exquisite workmanship reveal to us the quilter’s art in its greatest perfection. This quilt was made by Miss E. J. Hart, a most versatile and skilful needlewoman, in 1858, as shown by the small precise figures below the large wreath. The design is exceedingly well balanced in that the entire quilt surface is uniformly covered and no one feature is emphasized to the detriment of any other. The design element of the wreath is a compact group of flowers, fruit, and leaves, which is repeated ten [Pg 85] times in making the complete circle. The vase filled with drooping sprays, flowers, and conventionalized buds forms an ideal centre for this wreath. Curving vines intermingled with flowers make a desirable and graceful border. This quilt is a little more than two and a half yards square, and the central wreath fills a space equal to the width of a double bed, for which it was evidently intended.
An appliqué quilt of red, blue, and green
On the reverse side is a small “gold pocket” in which valuables may be secreted. Colours: yellow, red, and green
Miss Hart displayed unusual ability in choosing and combining the limited materials at the disposal of the quilt maker in a newly settled region. The foundation is fine white muslin; the coloured material is calico, in the serviceable quality manufactured at that time, and of shades considered absolutely fast, then known as “oil boiled.” Only four colours are used in the design: green, red, yellow, and pink, the latter having a small allover printed design in a darker shade.
Miss Hart planned her quilting quite carefully. In the large blank spaces in the corners are placed special, original designs that have some features of the much-used “feather” pattern. Aside from these triangular corner designs all the quilting is in small diamonds, which form a very pleasing [Pg 86] background for the effective coloured designs. The maker’s name and the date are closely quilted in white in plain bold-faced type just below the wreath. In the centre of the wreath, in neat script in black thread, is quilted the name “Indiana Wreath,” and all the stitchery of top and quilting is the very perfection of quilt making.
The beautiful white quilts that are treasured as relics of past industry by their fortunate owners deserve special mention. They are rare because nowadays no one will expend the large amount of time necessary to complete one. The foundation of such a quilt is fine white muslin, or fine homespun and woven linen, with a very thin interlining. The beauty of the quilt depends upon the design drawn for the quilting and the fine stitches with which the quilting is done. There is usually a special design planned for these white quilts which includes a large central panel or pattern, with smaller designs for the corners embodying some of the ideas of the central panel. Around these decorative sections the background is so closely quilted as to resemble a woven fabric. This smooth, even background throws the principal designs into low relief. After the entire quilt is [Pg 87] quilted and removed from the frames, the main design is frequently further accentuated by having all the most prominent features, such as the leaves and petals of flowers, stuffed. To accomplish this tiny holes are made on the wrong side of each section of the design and cotton is pushed in with a large needle until the section is stuffed full and tight. This tedious process is followed until every leaf and petal stands out in bold relief.
This is applied patchwork and therefore much more easily made than pieced work; very simple quilting gives prominence to the design
The fashion which has prevailed for many years of dressing beds all in white has no doubt caused the destruction of many beautiful quilts. The white quilts that have been preserved are now considered too valuable to be subjected to hard wear. The most exquisite ones were made in the last of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries.
It was the rage for white bed coverings that shortened the lives of many old pieced and patched quilts of good colouring. The “Country Contributor” tells of her experiences in dressing up the white beds:
“I remember with regret the quilts I wore out, using them white side up in lieu of white Marseilles spreads. The latter we were far too poor to own; [Pg 88] the ‘tufted’ ones had worn out; and I loathed the cheap ‘honeycombed’ cotton things we were forced to use unless we were going to be frankly ‘poor’ and cover our beds with plain patchwork, made up hurriedly and quilted in simple ‘fans’ in plebeian squares, as poor folk who haven’t time for elegant stitches did theirs. So I used the old quilts, making their fine stitches in intricate patterns serve for the design in a ‘white spread,’ turning the white muslin lining up. A beautiful white spread it made, too, I realize now, more fully than I did then, though I now would know much better than to turn the wonderful appliqué stars and flowers and wheels from view. Strange, is it not, that we relinquish so much of life’s best joy and pleasure before we know what actually is good?” This fashion prevails to-day, in some instances insisted upon for sanitary reasons, but it has lost to us many of the finest examples of quilting that existed because where there were no coloured patterns to relieve the white expanse, the quilting had to be perfect. If you have a white quilt treasure it, for competent quilters are no longer numerous and few there are who can reproduce it.
How Quilts Are Made
IT IS only in comparatively recent years that many articles of wearing apparel and house furnishings have been manufactured outside the home. One after another, spinning, weaving, shoemaking, candlemaking, tailoring, knitting, and similar tasks have been taken from the homekeeper because the same articles can be made better and cheaper elsewhere. The housewife still keeps busy, but is occupied with tasks more to her liking. Among the few home occupations that have survived is quilting. With many serviceable substitutes it is not really necessary for women to make quilts now, but the strange fascination about the work holds their interest. Quilt making has developed and progressed during the very period when textile arts in the home have declined under the influence of the factory. More quilts are being made at the present time and over a wider area than ever before.
[Pg 90] Quilts, as known and used to-day, may be divided into two general classes, washable and non-washable, depending upon the materials of which they are made. The methods for constructing each class are the same, and are so very simple that it seems hardly necessary to explain them.
The name quilt implies two or more fabrics held together with many stitches. Webster defines a quilt as “Anything that is quilted, especially as a quilted bedcover or a skirt worn by women; any cover or garment made by putting wool, cotton, etc., between two cloths and stitching them together.” The verb, to quilt, he defines as “To stitch or to sew together at frequent intervals in order to confine in place the several layers of cloth and wadding of which a garment, comforter, etc., may be made. To stitch or sew in lines or patterns.”
The “Encyclopædia Britannica” is a little more explicit and also gives the derivation of the name, quilt, as follows: “Probably a coverlet for a bed consisting of a mass of feathers, down, wool, or other soft substances, surrounded by an outer covering of linen, cloth, or other material.” In its earlier days the “quilt” was often made thick and sewed as a form of mattress. The term was [Pg 91] also given to a stitched, wadded lining for body armour. “The word came into English from old French cuilte. This is derived from Latin culcitra, a stuffed mattress or cushion. From the form culcitra came old French cotra, or coutre whence coutre pointe; this was corrupted into counterpoint, which in turn was changed to counterpane. The word ‘pane’ is also from the Latin pannus, a piece of cloth. Thus ‘counterpane,’ a coverlet for a bed, and ‘quilt’ are by origin the same word.”
Broadly speaking, from these definitions, any article made up with an interlining may be called a quilt. However, usage has restricted the meaning of the word until now it is applied to a single form of bed covering. In the United States the distinction has been carried even farther and a quilt is understood to be a light weight, closely stitched bedcover. When made thicker, and consequently warmer, it is called a “comfort.”
The three necessary parts of a quilt are the top, the lining or back, and the interlining. The top, which is the important feature, unless the quilting is to be the only ornamentation, may be a single piece of plain cloth; or it may be pieced together from many small pieces different in size, colour, [Pg 92] and shape, so as to form either simple or fanciful designs. The top may also be adorned with designs cut from fabrics of varying colours and applied to the foundation with fancy stitches, or it may be embroidered. The materials may be either cotton, linen, wool, or silk. The back is usually of plain material, which requires no description. The interlining, if the quilting is to be close and elaborate, must be thin. If warmth is desired a thicker interlining is used and the lines of quilting are spaced farther apart. The design of the top and the quilting lend themselves very readily to all manner of variations, and as a result there is an almost infinite variety of quilts.
For convenience in making, nearly every quilt is composed of a number of blocks of regular form and size which, when joined together, make the body of the quilt. Each of these blocks may have a design complete in itself, or may be only part of a large and complicated design covering the whole top of the quilt.
This quilt is at least 75 years old. The rose is pieced of old rose and two shades of pink; the stem and leaves are appliqué
DETAIL OF HARRISON ROSE, SHOWING QUILTING
(a) Single Diagonal Lines (b) Double Diagonal Lines (c) Triple Diagonal Lines
There is a radical distinction between the verbs “to piece” and “to patch,” as used in connection with the making of quilts. In this instance the former means to join together separate pieces of [Pg 94] like material to make sections or blocks that are in turn set together to form the top of the quilt. The pieces are usually of uniform shape and size and of contrasting colours. They are sewed together with a running stitch, making a seam upon the wrong side. The quilt called “Star of the East” is an excellent example of a pieced quilt in which a number of small pieced sections are united to form a single design that embraces the entire top of the quilt.
Patches are commonly associated with misfortune. The one who needs them is unfortunate, and the one who has to sew them on is usually an object of sympathy, according to a wise old saw: “A hole may be thought to be an accident of the day, but a patch is a sure sign of poverty.” But patch quilts belong to a different class than the patches of necessity, and are the aristocrats of the quilt family, while the pieced quilts came under the heading of poor relations.
However, this term is a misnomer when applied to some pieced quilts. Many of the “scrap quilts,” as they are called in some localities, are very pretty when made from gay pieces—carefully blended—of the various shades of a single colour. The stars in [Pg 95] the design called “The Unknown Star” are made of a great variety of different patterns of pink calico, yet the blending is so good that the effect is greatly heightened by the multiplicity of shades.
Pieced quilts make a special appeal to women who delight in the precise and accurate work necessary in their construction. For those who enjoy making pieced quilts, there is practically no limit to the variety of designs available, some of which are as intricate as the choicest mosaic. The bold and rather heavy design known as “Jacob’s Ladder” is a good example of the pieced quilt. Another is the “Feathered Star,” whose lightness and delicacy make it a most charming pattern. The pieced quilt with one large star in the centre, called by some “The Star of the East” and by others “The Star of Bethlehem,” is a striking example of mathematical exactness in quilt piecing. In quilts made after this pattern all the pieces must be exactly the same size and all the seams must be the same width in order to produce a perfect star.
The French word “appliqué” is frequently used to describe the patched or laid-on work. There is no single word in the English language that exactly translates “appliqué.” The term “applied [Pg 96] work” comes nearest and is the common English term. By common usage patchwork is now understood to mean quilt making, and while used indiscriminately for both pieced and patched quilts, it really belongs to that type where the design is cut from one fabric and applied upon another. “Sewed on” and “laid quilts” are old terms given to appliqué or patched quilts.
The distinction between “pieced” and “patched” quilts is fittingly described by Miss Bessie Daingerfield, the Kentuckian who has written interestingly of her experiences with mountain quilt makers. She says: “To every mountain woman her piece quilts are her daily interest, but her patch quilts are her glory. Even in these days, you women of the low country know a piece quilt when you see one, and doubtless you learned to sew on a ‘four-patch’ square. But have you among your treasures a patch quilt? The piece quilt, of course, is made of scraps, and its beauty or ugliness depends upon the material and colours that come to hand, the intricacy of the design, and one’s skill in executing it. I think much character building must be done while hand and eye coöperate to make, for example, a star quilt with its endless tiny points [Pg 97] for fitting and joining, but a patch quilt is a more ambitious affair. For this the pattern is cut from the whole piece and appliquéd on unbleached cotton. The colours used are commonly oil red, oil green, and a certain rather violent yellow, and sometimes indigo blue. These and these only are considered reliable enough for a patch quilt, which is made for the generations that come after. The making of such a quilt is a work of oriental patience.”
ORIGINAL ROSE DESIGN MADE IN 1840
The maker was lame, and only able to walk about in her garden. Colours: red, green, pink, and yellow
Colours: red and green
“Appliqué work is thought by some to be an inferior kind of embroidery, although it is not. It is not a lower but another kind of needlework in which more is made of the stuff than of the stitching. In appliqué the craft to the needleworker is not carried to its limit, but, on the other hand, it calls for great skill in design. Effective it must be: coarse it may be: vulgar it should not be: trivial it can hardly be: mere prettiness is beyond its scope: but it lends itself to dignity of design and nobility of treatment.” The foregoing quotation is from “Art in Needlework” by Louis F. Day and Mary Buckle. It is of interest because it explains how appliqué or “laid-on” needlework ranks with other kinds.
[Pg 98] After all the different parts of a quilt top are either pieced or decorated with applied designs, they are joined together with narrow seams upon the wrong side of the quilt. If a border is included in the design it should harmonize in colour and design with the body of the quilt. However, in many quilts, borders seem to be “a thing apart” from the remainder of the top and, apparently, have been added as an afterthought to enlarge the top after the blocks had been joined. In old quilts a border frequently consisted of simple bands of colours similar to those found in the body of the quilt, but more often new material entirely different in colour and quality was added when greater size was desired. Many old quilts were three yards or more square, generous proportions being very essential in the old days of broad four-posters heaped with feather beds.
(a) Diamonds (b) Hanging Diamonds (c) Broken Plaid
The top being completed, the back or lining, of the same dimensions as the top, is next made of some light-weight material, usually white cotton. The quilt, to quote the usual expression, is then “ready for the frames.” In earlier days the quilting frame could be found in every home, its simple construction making this possible. In its usual [Pg 100] form it consists of four narrow pieces of wood, two somewhat longer than a quilt, and two shorter, perhaps half as long, with holes bored in the ends of each piece. These pieces are made into an oblong frame by fastenings of bolts or pegs, and are commonly supported on the backs of chairs. More pretentious frames are made with round pieces for the sides, and with ends made to stand upon the floor, about the height of a table, these ends having round holes into which the side pieces fit. Such a frame is then self-supporting and frequently has a cogwheel attachment to keep the sides in place and to facilitate the rolling and unrolling of the quilt. The majority of frames are very plain, but occasionally a diligent quilter is encountered who has one made to suit her particular requirements, or has received an unusually well-built one as a gift. One old frame worthy of mention was made of cherry with elaborate scroll designed ends, cherry side bars, and a set of cogwheels also made of cherry; all finished and polished like a choice piece of furniture.
This original rose design was made by Caroline Stalnaker of Lewis County, West Virginia. She was one of the thirteen children of Charles Stalnaker, who was a “rock-ribbed” Baptist, and an ardent Northern sympathizer. During the Civil War this quilt was buried along with the family silver and other valuables to protect it from depredations by Confederate soldiers. One of Caroline Stalnaker’s neighbors and friends was Stonewall Jackson.
In this quilt, as in many old ones, the border has been omitted on the side intended to go at the head of the bed. This quilt is still unfinished, having never been quilted
ROSE OF LEMOINE
An old and distinctly American design
Each side bar or roll of the quilting frame is tightly wound with cotton strips or has a piece of muslin firmly fastened to its entire length, to [Pg 101] which is sewed the edges of the lining, one side to each bar. Then the extra length is rolled up on one side of the frame, and after being tightly stretched, the wooden pieces are securely fastened. On this stretched lining or back of the quilt, the cotton or wool used for filling or interlining is spread very carefully and smoothly; then with even greater care the top is put in place, its edge pinned or basted to the edge of the lining, and drawn tightly over the cotton. The ends of the quilt must also be stretched. This is done by pinning pieces of muslin to the quilt and wrapping them around the ends of the frame. Great care is required to keep all edges true and to stretch all parts of the quilt uniformly.
Upon this smooth top the quilting is drawn, for even the most expert quilters require outlines to quilt by. If the quilt top is light in colour the design is drawn with faint pencil lines; if the colours are too dark to show pencil markings, then with a chalked line. It is a fascinating thing to children to watch the marking of a quilt with the chalk lines. The firm cord used for this is drawn repeatedly across a piece of chalk or through powdered starch until well coated, then held near the [Pg 102] quilt, and very tightly stretched, while a second person draws it up and lets it fly back with a snap, thus making a straight white line. How closely the lines are drawn depends wholly upon the ambition and diligence of the quilter. The lines may be barely a quarter of an inch apart, or may be placed only close enough together to perform their function of keeping the interlining in place.
Patterns of quiltings are not as plentiful as designs for the patchwork tops of quilts; only about eight or ten standard patterns being in general use. The simplest pattern consists of “single diagonal” lines, spaced to suit the work in hand. The lines are run diagonally across the quilt instead of parallel with the weave, in order that they may show to better advantage, and also because the cloth is less apt to tear or pull apart than if the quilting lines are run in the same direction as the threads of the fabric. The elaboration of the “single” diagonal into sets of two or more parallel lines, thus forming the “double” and “triple” diagonals, is the first step toward ornamentation in quilting. A further advance is made when the quilting lines are crossed, by means of which patterns like the “square,” “diamond,” and “hanging diamond” are produced.
THE SUNFLOWER QUILT
Shows a realistic, bold design of vivid colouring. The border is harmonious, suggesting a firm foundation for the stems. The quilting in the centre is a design of spider webs, leaves, and flowers
[Pg 103] Wavy lines and various arrangements of hoops, circles, and segments of circles are among the more complex quilting patterns, which are not particularly difficult. Plates and saucers of various diameters are always available to serve as markers in laying out such designs. The “pineapple,” “broken plaid,” and “shell” patterns are very popular, especially with those who are more experienced in the art. One very effective design used by many quilters is known as the “Ostrich Feather.” These so-called feathers are arranged in straight bands, waved lines, or circles, and—when the work is well done—are very beautiful. The “fan” and “twisted rope” patterns are familiar to the older quilters but are not much used at the present time.
(a) Rope (b) Shell (c) Fan
(a) Feathers in Bands (b) Feathers in Waved Lines (c) Feathers in Circles
Frequently the quilting design follows the pieced or patched pattern and is then very effective, especially when a floral pattern is used. Some quilters show much originality and ingenuity in incorporating into their work the outlines of the flowers and leaves of the quilt design. Sometimes the pieced top is of such common material as to seem an unworthy basis for the beautiful work of an experienced quilter, who stitches with such [Pg 106] patient hand, wasting, some may think, her art upon too poor a subject. However, for the consolation of those who consider quilting a wicked waste of time, it may be added that nowadays expert quilters are very few indeed, and enthusiasts who have spent weeks piecing a beautiful quilt have been known to wait a year before being able to get it quilted by an expert in this art.
On the thin cotton quilts that have the elaborate quilting designs and are the pride of the owner, the quilting is done with fine cotton thread, about number seventy. The running stitch used in quilting should be as small and even as it is possible for the quilter to make. This is a very difficult feat to accomplish, since the quilt composed of two thicknesses of cloth with an interlining of cotton is stretched so tightly in the frame that it is quite difficult to push the needle through. Also the quilter, while bending over the frame with one hand above and one hand below, is in a somewhat unnatural strained position. It requires much patience to acquire the knack of sitting in the rather uncomfortable quilter’s position without quickly tiring.
Skill and speed in quilting can be acquired only [Pg 107] through much practice. Perfect quilting cannot be turned out by a novice in the art, no matter how skilful she may be at other kinds of needlework. The patience and skill of the quilter are especially taxed when, in following the vagaries of some design, she is forced to quilt lines that extend away from her instead of toward her. As the result of many years spent over the quilting frame, some quilters acquire an unusual dexterity in handling the needle, and occasionally one is encountered who can quilt as well with one hand as with the other.
ORIGINAL DESIGNS FROM OLD QUILTS
With the American eagle in the border
PUFFED QUILT OF SILK
This is a very popular pieced quilt, composed of carefully saved bits of silks and velvets
Quilting is usually paid for by the amount of thread used, no consideration being given to the amount of time expended on the work. A spool of cotton thread, such as is found in every dry-goods store, averaging two hundred yards to the spool, is the universal measure. The price charged is more a matter of locality than excellence of workmanship. A certain price will prevail in one section among all quilters there, while in another, not far removed, two or three times that price will be asked for the same work. When many of the old quilts, now treasured as remembrances of our diligent and ambitious ancestors, were made, [Pg 109] one dollar per spool was the usual price paid for quilting. However, as the number of quilters has decreased, the price of quilting has increased, until as much as five dollars per spool is now asked in some parts of the country. Even at the advanced prices, it is exceedingly difficult to find sufficient quilters to complete the many pieced and appliqué quilts being made.
After the space of some twelve inches, which is as far as the quilter can reach conveniently, has been quilted, the completed portion is rolled up on the side of the frame nearest the quilter. From the other side another section is then unrolled and marked for quilting, and quilted as far as the worker can reach. Thus quilting and rolling are continued until the whole quilt is gone over, after which it is taken from the frame and the edges neatly bound with a narrow piece of bias material, either white or of some harmonizing colour. Since all of the stitches are taken entirely through the quilt, the design worked into the top is repeated on the lining, so that the back makes a white spread of effective pattern in low relief. Very often the back or reverse side is as beautiful as the top, and many lovely quilts have ended their [Pg 110] years of service as white counterpanes during that period when the vogue for white beds reigned. Now, however, owners are glad to display them in all their gorgeousness, and they no longer masquerade as white bedspreads.
Occasionally the date of making and the initials of the maker are quilted in a corner, but it is seldom that even this much is visible to tell of the quilt’s origin. How interesting it would be if some bits of the story of the maker could have been sewed into a few of the old quilts; for such works of art, that are so long in making, deserve to have some facts relating to them live at least as long as they.
When a bedcover of exceptional warmth is desired, several sheets of cotton or wool prepared for that purpose are laid one over the other between the top and back. As this is too thick to allow a needle to be pushed through easily, and even stitches cannot be taken, then quilting gives way to tying or knotting. Threads of silk, cotton, linen, or wool are drawn through with coarse needles and the ends tied in tight, firm knots. These knots are arranged at close, regular intervals to prevent the interlining from slipping out of place. To this kind of covering is applied the very [Pg 111] appropriate name of “comfort.” Holland, Germany, Switzerland, and all of Scandinavia use quilted down and feather comforts. In fact, the down comfort has become international in its use. It is found in almost every home in the colder regions of Europe and America, and on chilly nights is a comfort indeed. They are usually made in one colour and, aside from the quilting, which is in bold, artistic designs, are without other decoration. The quilting on down comforts is done by machines made expressly for that work.
Quilting is not confined to the making of quilts. The petticoats worn by the women of Holland are substantial affairs made of either woollen cloth or satin, as the purse permits, heavily interlined and elaborately quilted. The Dutch belle requires from four to nine of these skirts to give her the figure typical of her country. Both the Chinese and Japanese make frequent use of quilting in their thickly padded coats and kimonos, and it may be that from them the early Dutch voyagers and traders brought back the custom to Holland.
(a) Design from an Old English Quilt (b) Medallion Design (c) Pineapple Design
VARIEGATED HEXAGON, SILK
Colours: cherry, light blue, pink, black, and a yellow centre
ROMAN STRIPE, SILK
A knowledge of the simplest form of sewing is all that is necessary to piece quilts. The running stitch used for narrow seams is the first stitch a [Pg 113] beginner learns. There are other stitches needed to make a patchwork quilt, which frequently develops into quite an elaborate bit of needlework. The applied designs should always be neatly hemmed to the foundation; some, however, are embroidered and the edges of the designs finished with a buttonhole stitch, and other fancy stitches may be introduced.
In quilt making, as in every other branch of needlework, much experience is required to do good work. It takes much time and practice to acquire accuracy in cutting and arranging all the different pieces. A discriminating eye for harmonizing colours is also a great advantage. But above all requirements the quilt maker must be an expert needleworker, capable of making the multitude of tiny stitches with neatness and precision if she would produce the perfect quilt.
Appreciation of nature is an attribute of many quilt makers, as shown by their efforts to copy various forms of leaf and flower. There are many conventionalized floral patterns on appliqué quilts that give evidence of much ability and originality in their construction. For the pioneer woman there was no convenient school of design, and when [Pg 114] she tired of the oft-repeated quilt patterns of her neighbourhood she turned to her garden for suggestions. The striking silhouettes of familiar blossoms seen on many quilts are the direct result of her nature study.
AMONG the most fascinating features of quilt lore are the great number and wonderful variety of names given to quilt designs. A distinct individuality is worked into every quilt by its maker, which in most instances makes it worthy of a name. The many days spent in creating even a simple quilt give the maker ample time in which to ponder over a name for the design, so that the one selected generally reflects some peculiarity in her personality. History, politics, religion, nature, poetry, and romance, all are stitched into the gayly coloured blocks and exert their influence on quilt appellations. Careful consideration of a large number of quilts reveals but few that have been named in a haphazard way; in nearly every instance there was a reason or at least a suggestion for the name.
In most cases the relation between name and design is so evident that the correct name at once [Pg 116] suggests itself, even to the novice in quilt making. The common “star” pattern, in which one star is made the centre of each block, is invariably known as the “Five-pointed Star.” A variation in the size of the stars or the number of colours entering into their composition has not resulted in any new name.
It is quite usual, however, when there is a slight deviation from a familiar pattern, resulting from either the introduction of some variation or by the omission of a portion of the old design, to make a corresponding change in the name. Good illustrations of this custom are the minor alterations which have been made in the tree trunk of the “tree” pattern. These may be so slight as to be entirely unobserved by the casual admirer, yet they are responsible for at least three new names: “Pine Tree,” “Temperance Tree,” and “Tree of Paradise.” A minor change in the ordinary “Nine Patch,” with a new name as a result, is another striking example of how very slight an alteration may be in order to inspire a new title. In this case, the central block is cut somewhat larger than in the old “Nine Patch,” and the four corner blocks are, by comparison with the centre block, quite small. This slight change is in reality a magical [Pg 117] transformation, for the staid “Nine Patch” has now become a lively “Puss-in-the-Corner.” The changes in some patterns have come about through efforts to make a limited amount of highly prized colour brighten a whole quilt. This circumstance, as much as any other, has been the cause of new names.
AMERICAN LOG CABIN, SILK AND WOOL
In Colonial days this was known as a “pressed” quilt
Made in Pennsylvania about 1845
Important events occurring during the construction periods of old quilts are quite frequently recalled to us by their names. The stirring frontier activities and the great men of history made impressions on the mind of the housewife which found expression in the names of her quilts. “Washington’s Plumes,” “Mexican Rose,” and “Rose of Dixie” are old quilt names reflecting domestic interest in important events. The hardships and vicissitudes endured by the sturdy pioneers were constantly in the minds of the early American quilters and inspired many names. “Pilgrim’s Pride,” “Bear’s Paws,” “Rocky Road to Kansas,” “Texas Tears,” and “Rocky Road to California” have great interest as they reveal to us the thoughts of our great-grandmothers over their quilting frames.
The names having political significance, which were attached to quilts, show that the women as [Pg 118] well as the men had a keen interest in the affairs of our country in its earlier days. “Old Tippecanoe,” “Lincoln’s Platform,” “Harrison Rose,” “Democrat Rose,” “Whig Rose,” and “Radical Rose” are all suggestive of the great discussion over slavery. Of the last name, an old lady, famous for her quilt making, said: “Here’s my ‘Radical Rose.’ I reckon you’ve heard I was the first human that ever put black in a Radical Rose. Thar hit is, right plumb in the middle. Well, whenever you see black in a Radical Rose you can know hit war made atter the second year of the war (Civil War). Hit was this way, ever’ man war a-talkin’ about the Radicals and all the women tuk to makin’ Radical Roses. One day I got to studying that thar ought to be some black in that thar pattern, sence half the trouble was to free the niggers, and hit didn’t look fair to leave them out. And from that day to this thar’s been black in ever’ Radical Rose.”
Other names having patriotic, political, or historical significance are:
Union Calico Quilt
[Pg 119] There is also the “Centennial” in commemoration of the Centennial Exposition held at Philadelphia in 1876, and “The World’s Fair,” “World’s Fair Puzzle,” and “World’s Fair Blocks” to perpetuate the grandeurs of the great exposition held at Chicago in 1893.
Religion is closely associated with the life of the industrious, sober-minded dwellers of our villages and farms, and it is the most natural thing in the world for the Biblical teachings to crop out in the names of their quilts, as the following names indicate:
Garden of Eden
Star of Bethlehem
Tree of Paradise
Forbidden Fruit Tree
The glories of the sky enjoy ample prominence among quilt names. Beginning with the “Rising Sun,” of which there are several different designs, there follow “Sunshine” and “Sunburst,” then “Rainbow,” and finally a whole constellation of “Stars”:
Crosses and Stars
[Pg 120] Cluster of Stars
Four X Star
Four Stars Patch
Ladies’ Beautiful Star
Star of Bethlehem
Star and Chains
Star of Many Points
Star and Squares
Star and Cubes
Star of the West
Star and Cross
Star of Texas
Stars upon Stars
Squares and Stars
St. Louis Star
Wheel and Star
In connection with the “Star” quilt names it is worthy of notice that geometric names outnumber those of any other class. “Squares,” “triangles,” and “circles” are well represented, but the “Stars” easily lead with nearly fifty names.
Names of various other geometric patterns appear below:
[Pg 121] Circle within Circle
Cross within Cross
Cross and Crown
Domino and Square
New Four Patch
New Nine Patch
Square and Swallow
Square and a Half
Squares and Stripes
Square and Triangle
“PINK ROSE” DESIGN
Names of a nautical turn are to be expected for quilts which originate in seaside cottages and seaport villages. “Bounding Betty,” “Ocean Waves,” and “Storm at Sea” have a flavour as salty as the spray which dampens them when they are spread out to sun by the sandy shore.
That poetry and romance have left their mark on the quilt is shown by the names that have been drawn from these sources. “Lady of the Lake,” [Pg 122] “Charm,” “Air Castle,” “Wheel of Fortune,” and “Wonder of the World” are typical examples. Sentimental names are also in evidence, as “Love Rose,” “Lovers’ Links,” “True Lovers’ Knot,” “Friendship Quilt,” and “Wedding Knot.”
Nature furnishes more suggestions for beautiful quilt designs than any other source. So frequently are her models resorted to by quilt makers the world over that many different designs have been inspired by the same leaf or flower. The rose especially is used again and again, and will always be the favourite flower of the quilter. There are at least twenty “rose” names to prove how this flower has endeared itself to the devotees of piece-block and quilting frame:
Rose of Sharon
Rose of Dixie
Rose of the Carolinas
Rosebud and Leaves
Rose of LeMoine
Wreath of Roses
[Pg 123] Other flowery names are also popular:
Basket of Lilies
Daffodils and Butterflies
Lily Quilt Pattern
Lily of the Valley
Morning Gray Wreath
Persian Palm Lady
Pansies and Butterflies
Tulip in Vase
Tulip Lady Finger
White Day Lily
When seeking flowers that lend themselves readily to quilt designs it is best to choose those whose leaves and blossoms present clear, distinct, and easily traced outlines. The names of many of the quaint varieties that flourish in old-fashioned gardens, as lilacs, phlox, larkspur, and marigolds, are absent from the list. This is because their lacy foliage and complex arrangement of petals cannot be reproduced satisfactorily in quilt materials.
Even the lowly vegetables secure some mention among quilt names with “Corn and Beans.” The [Pg 124] fruits and trees are well represented, as noted by the following list:
California Oak Leaf
Live Oak Tree
Little Beech Tree
May Berry Leaf
Oak Leaf and Tulip
Oak Leaf and Acorns
Sweet Gum Leaf
Tulip Tree Leaves
The names of birds and insects are almost as popular as those of flowers, as this list will bear witness:
Dove in the Window
Duck and Ducklings
Four Little Birds
Goose in the Pond
Hen and Chickens
Peacocks and Flowers
Swarm of Bees
The Two Doves
Wild Goose Chase
ORIGINAL ROSE NO. 3
Made in Indiana about 75 years ago. Colors: red and green
WHITE QUILT, WITH STUFFED QUILTING DESIGNS
This quilt was made in New England, and was finished in 1801, but how long a period was occupied in the making is unknown. It was designed by a young architect for an ambitious young quilter
[Pg 125] The animals also must be credited with their share of names:
Cats and Mice
Four Frogs Quilt
The Snail’s Trail
Toad in the Puddle
The Lobster (1812)
Occasionally the quilt maker was honoured by having her name given to her handiwork, as “Mrs. Morgan’s Choice,” “Mollie’s Choice,” “Sarah’s Favourite,” and “Fanny’s Fan.” Aunts and grandmothers figure as prominently in the naming of quilts as they do in the making of them. “Aunt Sukey’s Patch,” “Aunt Eliza’s Star Point,” “Grandmother’s Own,” “Grandmother’s Dream,” and “Grandmother’s Choice” are typical examples.
Quilt names in which reference is made to persons and personalities are quite numerous, as is proved by the list given below:
Eight Hands Around
Hands All Around
[Pg 126] Lady Fingers
Mrs. Cleveland’s Choice
Old Maid’s Puzzle
Odd Fellows’ Chain
Names derived both from local neighbourhoods and foreign lands occupy a prominent place in the quilt list:
American Log Patch
Cross Roads to Texas
Double Irish Chain
Royal Japanese Vase
Rocky Road to Kansas
Rocky Road to California
Road to California
Rose of Dixie
Rose of the Carolinas
Star of Texas
[Pg 127] Sometimes the names of a flower and a locality are combined, as in “Persian Palm Lily” and “Carolina Lily.” This latter design is quite a popular one in the Middle West, where it is known also as “Star Flower.”
Figures and letters come in for some attention, for a few of the designs thus named are quite artistic. The best known are “Boxed I’s,” “Capital I,” “Double Z,” “Four E’s,” “Fleur-de-Lis,” “Letter H,” “Letter X,” and “T Quartette.”
Inanimate objects, particularly those about the house, inspired many names for patterns, some of which are quite appropriate. A number of such names are given here:
Diagonal Log Chain
Fan and Rainbow
Ice Cream Bowl
Pincushion and Burr
[Pg 128] Paving Blocks
Square Log Cabin
Occasionally the wag of the family had his opportunity, for it took some one with a strain of dry humour to suggest “Old Bachelor’s Puzzle,” “Drunkard’s Path,” and “All Tangled Up,” or to have ironically called one quilt a “Blind Man’s Fancy.”
Imagination was not lacking when it came to applying apt names to some of the simplest designs. To have called rows of small triangles running diagonally across a quilt the “Wild Goose Chase,” the maker must have known something of the habits of wild geese, for as these migrate from North to South and back again following the summer’s warmth, they fly one behind the other in long V-shaped lines. The resemblance of these lines, swiftly moving across the sky, to her neat [Pg 129] rows of triangles supplied the quilt maker with her inspiration.
A very beautiful and original design, made in New England over 125 years ago. Only part of the design has been stuffed
OLD LADIES QUILTING
Names that are grotesque, or fanciful, or so descriptive that their mention is sure to provoke a grin, occur with pleasing frequency. Who can help but smile at “Hairpin Catcher,” “Hearts and Gizzards,” or “Tangled Garters?” Other grotesque names worthy of mention are:
An Odd Pattern
No Name Quilt
Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
State House Steps
Steps to the Altar
Swing in the Centre
The X quisite
The everyday quilts, not particularly beautiful, perhaps, but nevertheless so essential to the family comfort, are also considered worthy of names. Homely and prosaic as their owners, the following names have a peculiar rugged quality entirely lacking in the fanciful ones given to their more artistic sisters:
An Old Patchwork
Coarse Woven Patch
Crosses and Losses
Odds and Ends
Old Scrap Patchwork
Right and Left
The Old Homestead
Twist and Turn
In the old days grown-up folks were not the only ones who had to do with naming the quilts; children shared in the honour, and many of the quaint and fantastic names were the result of humouring their fancies. There was no “B’rer Rabbit” in quilt lore, but he was not missed when the two or three youngsters who cuddled in the old-fashioned trundle bed could have so many other fascinating names for their quilts. “Four Little Birds,” “Ducks and Ducklings,” “Children’s Delight,” “The Little Red House,” “Goose in the Pond,” “The House That Jack Built,” “Toad in the Puddle,” and “Johnny Around the Corner” are some of the old names still in use to-day. Any one of these patterns made up into a quilt was a treasure to imaginative children, and it was doubly so when they could pick out among the tiny blocks bits of colour [Pg 131] that were once in their own gay dresses and pinafores.
Clinging lavender wisteria, sweet jasmine, and even scarlet amaryllis pale beside the glowing colours displayed during sunny spring days on the gallery rails of many country homes through Delaware and Virginia. These picturesque scenes, in which the familiar domestic art supplies the essential touch of colour, are aptly described by Robert and Elizabeth Shackleton, those indefatigable searchers for the beautiful among the relics of our forefathers.
“In many a little village, and in many an isolated mountain home, the old-time art of making patchwork coverlets is remembered and practised. Some may be found that are generations old; others are new, but made in precisely the old-time way, and after the same patterns. Many are in gorgeous colours, in glowing yellows, greens, and purples; and being a matter of housewifely pride, they are often thrown over the ‘gallery rail’ so their glory may be seen.
“One guest bed had nineteen quilts! Not to sleep under such a padded mountain, but it was the most natural method of display. Each quilt [Pg 132] had its name. There was the “Western Star,” the “Rose of the Carolinas,” the “Log Cabin,” the “Virginia Gentleman,” the “Fruit Basket,” the “Lily of the Valley”—as many special names as there are designs.”
Quilt Collections and Exhibitions
IN SPITE of their wide distribution and vast quantity, the number of quilts readily accessible to those who are interested in them is exceedingly small. This is particularly true of those quilts which possess artistic merit and historic interest, and a considerable amount of inquiry is sometimes necessary in order to bring forth even a single quilt of more than ordinary beauty. It is unfortunate for this most useful and pleasant art that its masterpieces are so shy and loath to display their charms, for it is mainly from the rivalry induced by constant display that all arts secure their best stimulus. However, some very remarkable achievements in quilting have been brought to light from time to time, to the great benefit of this best of household arts.
There is in existence to-day no complete collection of quilts readily available to the public at [Pg 134] large. No museum in this country or abroad has a collection worthy of the name, the nearest approach to it being in the great South Kensington Museum in London. While many institutions possess one or more specimens, these have been preserved more often on account of some historic association than because of exceptional beauty or artistic merit. It is only in the rare instance of a family collection, resulting from the slow accumulation by more than one generation of quilt enthusiasts, that a quilt collection at all worth while can be found. In such a case the owner is generally so reticent concerning his treasures that the community as a whole is never given the opportunity to profit by them.
In families where accumulations have reached the dignity in numbers that will justify being called collections, the quilts belonging to different branches of the family have been passed along from one generation to another, until they have become the property of one person. Among collections of this sort are found many rare and beautiful quilts, as only the best and choicest of all that were made have been preserved. There are also occasional large collections of quilts that are the work of [Pg 135] one industrious maker who has spent the greater portion of her life piecing and quilting. The Kentucky mountain woman who had “eighty-three, all different, and all her own makin’,” is a typical example of this class.
THE “WIND-BLOWN TULIP” DESIGN
Seems to bring a breath of springtime both in form and colour. Even the border flowers seem to be waving and nodding in the breeze
The vastness of their numbers and the great extent of their everyday use serve to check the collecting of quilts. As a whole, quilts are extremely heterogeneous and democratic; they are made so generally over the whole country that no distinct types have been developed, and they are possessed so universally that there is little social prestige to be gained by owning an uncommonly large number. Consequently even the most ardent quilt lovers are usually satisfied when they possess enough for their own domestic needs, with perhaps a few extra for display in the guest chambers.
Much of the social pleasure of the pioneer women was due to their widespread interest in quilts. Aside from the quilting bees, which were notable affairs, collecting quilt patterns was to many women a source of both interest and enjoyment. Even the most ambitious woman could not hope to make a quilt like every design which she admired, so, to appease the desire for the numerous ones she [Pg 136] was unable to make, their patterns were collected. These collections of quilt patterns—often quite extensive, frequently included single blocks of both pieced and patched designs. There was always a neighbourly and friendly interest taken in such collections, as popular designs were exchanged and copied many times. Choice remnants of prints and calicoes were also shared with the neighbours. Occasionally from trunks or boxes, long hidden in dusty attics, some of these old blocks come to light, yellowed with age and frayed at the edges, to remind us of the simple pleasures of our grandmothers.
At the present time there is a marked revival of interest in quilts and their making. The evidences of this revival are the increasing demand for competent quilters, the desire for new quilt patterns, and the growing popularity of quilt exhibitions. Concerning exhibits of quilts, there is apparent—at least in the northern part of the United States—a noticeable increase in popular appreciation of those held at county and state fairs. This is a particularly fortunate circumstance for the development of the art, because the county fair, “our one steadfast institution in a world of [Pg 137] change,” is so intimately connected with the lives and is so dear to the hearts of our people.
QUILTS ON A LINE
GRAPES AND VINES
In addition to the pleasures and social diversions which that annual rural festival—the county fair—affords, it is an educational force that is not sufficiently appreciated by those who live beyond the reach of its spell. At best, country life contains long stretches of monotony, and any interest with which it can be relieved is a most welcome addition to the lives of the women in rural communities. At the fair women are touched to new thoughts on common themes. They come to meet each other and talk over the latest kinks in jelly making, the progress of their children, and similar details of their family affairs. They come to get standards of living and to gather ideas of home decoration and entertainment for the long evenings when intercourse, even with the neighbours, becomes infrequent.
There is not the least doubt concerning the beneficial influence of the local annual fair on the life of the adjacent neighbourhood. At such a fair the presence of a varied and well-arranged display of needlework, which has been produced by the womenfolk, is of the greatest assistance in making [Pg 138] the community one in which it is worth while to live. Not only does it serve as a stimulus to those who look forward to the fair and put into their art the very best of their ability in order that they may surpass their competitor next door, but it also serves as an inspiration to those who are denied the faculty of creating original designs, yet nevertheless take keen pleasure in the production of beautiful needlework. It is to this latter class that an exhibition of quilts is of real value, because it provides them with new patterns that can be applied to the quilts which must be made. With fresh ideas for their inspiration, work which would otherwise be tedious becomes a real pleasure.
For the women of the farm the exhibit of domestic arts and products occupies the preëminent place at the county fair. In this exhibit the display of patchwork is sure to arouse the liveliest enthusiasm. A visitor at a fair in a western state very neatly describes this appreciation shown to quilts: “We used to hear a great deal about the sad and lonely fate of the western farmer’s wife, but there was little evidence of loneliness in the appearance of these women who surrounded the quilts and fancywork in the Domestic Arts Building.”
[Pg 139] In connection with the display of needlework at rural fairs, it is interesting to note how ancient is this custom. In the “Social History of Ancient Ireland” is the following description of an Irish fair held during the fourth century—long before the advent of St. Patrick and Christianity: “The people of Leinster every three years during the first week of August held the ‘Fair of Carman.’ Great ceremony and formality attended this event, the King of Leinster and his court officiating. Music formed a prominent part of the amusement. One day was set apart for recitation of poems and romantic tales, another for horse and chariot racing. In another part of the Fair people indulged in uproarious fun, crowded around showmen, jugglers, clowns with painted faces or hideously grotesqued masks. Prizes publicly presented by King or dignitary were given to winners of various contests. Needlework was represented by ‘the slope of the embroidering women,’ where women actually did their work in the presence of spectators.”
A very important factor in the recent revival of interest in quilts has been the springing up of impromptu exhibits as “benefits” for worthy causes, the raising of funds for which is a matter of popular [Pg 140] interest. Does a church need a new roof, a hospital some more furnishings, or a college a new building? And have all the usual methods of raising money become hackneyed and uninspiring to those interested in furthering the project? To those confronted with such a money-raising problem the quilt exhibition offers a most welcome solution. For not only does such an exhibition offer a new form of entertainment, but it also has sources of interesting material from which to draw that are far richer than commonly supposed.
Not so very long ago “The Country Contributor” undertook the task of giving a quilt show, and her description of it is distinctly worth while:
“My ideas were a bit vague. I had a mental picture of some beautiful quilts I knew of hung against a wall somewhere for people to come and look at and wonder over. So we announced the quilt show and then went on our way rejoicing. A good-natured school board allowed us to have the auditorium at the high school building for the display and the quilt agitation began.
AS GOLDEN BUTTERFLIES AND PANSIES
Are so often playmates of little ones in the garden, and beloved by them, they were chosen for the motifs of this child’s quilt
“A day or two before the show, which was to be on a Saturday, it began to dawn upon me that I might be buried under an avalanche of quilts. [Pg 141] The old ones were terribly large. They were made to cover a fat feather bed or two and to hang down to hide the trundle bed underneath, and, though the interlining of cotton was very thin and even, still the weight of a quilt made by one’s grandmother is considerable.
“We betook ourselves to the school building at an early hour on Saturday morning and the fun began. We were to receive entries until one o’clock, when the exhibition was to begin.
“In looking back now at this little event, I wonder we could have been so benighted as to imagine we could do it in a day! After about an hour, during which the quilts came in by the dozen, I sent in a general alarm to friends and kindred for help. We engaged a carpenter, strung up wires and ropes, and by some magic of desperation we got those quilts on display, 118 of them, by one o’clock.
“One lovely feature of this quilt show was the reverence with which men brought to us the quilts their mothers made. Plain farmers, busy workers, retired business men, came to us, their faces softened to tenderness, handed us, with mingled pride and devotion, their big bundle containing a [Pg 142] contribution to the display, saying in softened accents, ‘My mother made it.’ And each and every quilt brought thus was worthy of a price on its real merit—not for its hallowed association alone.
“Time and space would fail if I should try to tell about the quilts that came in at our call for an exhibition. There were so many prize quilts (fully two thirds of the quilts entered deserved prizes) that it is difficult to say what finally decided the blue ribbon. However, the quilt which finally carried it away was fairly typical of those of the early part of the nineteenth century. A rose pattern was applied in coloured calicoes on each alternate block. The geometrical calculation, the miraculous neatness of this work, can scarcely be exaggerated. But this is not the wonder of the thing. The real wonder is the quilting. This consisted in copying the design, petal for petal, leaf for leaf, in needlework upon every alternate block of white muslin. How these workers accomplished the raised designs on plain white muslin is the mystery. How raised flowers, leaves, plumes, baskets, bunches of fruit, even animal and bird shapes, could be shown in bas-relief on these quilt blocks [Pg 143] without hopelessly ‘puckering’ the material, none of us can imagine.”
No other inspiration that can equal our fairs has been offered to the quilters of our day. Public recognition of good work and the premiums which accompany this recognition augment the desire to excel in the art of quilt making. The keen competition engendered results in the most exact and painstaking work possible being put upon quilts that are entered for the “blue ribbon.” The materials, designs, and colours chosen for these quilts are given the most careful consideration, and the stitchery is as nearly perfect as it is possible to make it.
Some of the finest old quilts that have been preserved are repeatedly exhibited at county and state fairs, and have more than held their own with those made in recent years. One shown at an exhibition of quilts and coverlets, held in a city in southern Indiana in 1914, had been awarded the first premium at thirty-seven different fairs. This renowned and venerable quilt had been made more than seventy-five years before. Its design is the familiar one known as the “Rose of Sharon”; both the needlework on the design and the quilting [Pg 144] are exquisite, the stitches being all but invisible.
A striking instance of the influence of fairs upon quilt making is shown in the number of beautiful quilts that have been made expressly for display in exhibitions at state fairs in the Middle West. One such collection, worthy of special notice, consists of seven quilts: three of elaborate designs in patchwork and four made up of infinitesimal pieces. Every stitch, both on the handsome tops and in the perfect quilting, was wrought with careful patience by an old-time quilt maker. The aggregate amount of stitching upon these seven quilts seems enough to constitute the work of a lifetime. The material in these quilts, except one which is of silk, is fine white muslin and the reliable coloured calicoes of fifty years ago.
This extraordinary and beautiful collection is now being carefully preserved by an appreciative daughter, who tells how it was possible for her mother to accomplish this great task of needlework. The maker was the wife of a busy and prosperous farmer of northern Indiana. As on all farms in that region during the pioneer days, the home was the centre of manufacture of those [Pg 145] various articles necessary to the welfare and comfort of the family. This indulgent farmer, realizing that his wife’s quilt making was work of a higher plane than routine housekeeping, employed two stout daughters of a less fortunate neighbour to relieve her of the heavier household duties. Such work that required her direct supervision, as jelly making and fruit canning, was done in the evenings. This allowed the ambitious little woman ample time to pursue her art during the bright clear hours of daylight.
Belonging to the collections of individuals are many old quilts which possess more than ordinary interest, not so much on account of their beauty or unusual patterns, but because of their connection with some notable personage or historic event. The number of quilts which are never used, but which are most carefully treasured by their owners on account of some sentimental or historic association, is far greater than generally supposed. While most of the old quilts so jealously hidden in closet and linen chest have no extraordinary beauty, yet from time to time there comes into notice one which possesses—in addition to its interesting connection with the past—an exquisite [Pg 146] and mellow beauty which only tasteful design enhanced by age can give.
Quite often beautiful quilts are found in old trunks and bureaus, which have gathered dust for untold years in attics and storerooms. Opportunities to ransack old garrets are greatly appreciated by collectors, as the uncertainty of what may be found gives zest to their search. It was of such old treasure trove that the hangings were found to make what Harriet Beecher Stowe in her novel, “The Minister’s Wooing,” calls “the garret boudoir.” This was a cozy little enclosure made by hanging up old quilts, blankets, and coverlets so as to close off one corner of the garret. Her description of an old quilt used in this connection is especially interesting. It “was a bed quilt pieced in tiny blocks, none of them bigger than a sixpence, containing, as Mrs. Katy said, pieces of the gowns of all her grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and female relatives for years back; and mated to it was one of the blankets which had served Mrs. Scudder’s uncle in his bivouac at Valley Forge.”
THE “SNOWFLAKE” QUILT DESIGN
Brings to one’s imagination the sharp-pointed, glistening snowflakes against a background of blue sky. The quilting in fine stitches simulates the applied pattern, and the border suggests drifts of snow as one sees them after a winter’s storm
To view the real impromptu exhibitions of quilts—for which, by the way, no admission fee is [Pg 147] charged—one should drive along any country road on a bright sunny day in early spring. It is at this time that the household bedding is given its annual airing, and consequently long lines hung with quilts are frequent and interesting sights. During this periodical airing there becomes apparent a seemingly close alliance between patchwork and nature, as upon the soft green background of new leaves the beauty of the quilts is thrown into greater prominence. All the colours of the rainbow can be seen in the many varieties of design, for there is not a line that does not bear a startling “Lone Star of Texas,” “Rising Sun,” or some equally attractive pattern. Gentle breezes stir the quilts so that their designs and colours gain in beauty as they slowly wave to and fro. When the apple, cherry, and peach trees put on their new spring dresses of delicate blossoms and stand in graceful groups in the background, then the picture becomes even more charming.
This periodical airing spreads from neighbour to neighbour, and as one sunny day follows another all the clothes lines become weighted with burdens of brightest hues. Of course, there is no rivalry between owners, or no unworthy desire to show off, [Pg 148] yet, have you ever seen a line full of quilts hung wrong side out? It has been suggested that at an exhibition is the logical place to see quilts bloom. Yet, while it is a rare chance to see quilts of all kinds and in all states of preservation, yet it is much like massing our wild Sweet Williams, Spring Beauties, and Violets in a crowded greenhouse. They bravely do their best, but you can fairly see them gasping for the fresh, free air of their woodland homes. A quilt hung on a clothes line in the dooryard and idly flapping in the wind receives twice the appreciation given one which is sedately folded across a wire with many others in a crowded, jealous row.
The Quilt’s Place in American Homes
THE dominant characteristics of quilt making are companionship and concentrated interest. Both of these qualities, or—better yet—virtues, must be in evidence in order to bring a quilt to successful completion. The sociable, gossipy “quilting bee,” where the quilt is put together and quilted, has planted in every community in which it is an institution the seeds of numberless lifelong friendships. These friendships are being made over the quilting frames to-day just as they were in the pioneer times when a “quilting” was almost the only social diversion. Content with life, fixity of purpose, development of individuality, all are brought forth in every woman who plans and pieces a quilt. The reward of her work lies, not only in the pleasure of doing, but also in the joy of possession—which can be passed on even to future generations, for a well-made quilt is a lasting treasure.
[Pg 150] All this is quite apart from the strictly useful functions which quilts perform so creditably in every home, for quilts are useful as well as artistic. In summer nights they are the ideal emergency covering for the cool hour before dawn, or after a rapid drop in temperature, caused by a passing thunderstorm. But in the long chill nights of winter, when the snow sifts in through the partly raised window and all mankind snuggles deeper into the bed clothes, then all quilts may be truly said to do their duty. And right well they do it, too, as all those who love to linger within their cozy shelter on frosty December mornings will testify.
THE DOGWOOD QUILT
Offers another choice in flower designs. The full-grown blossoms on the green background remind us of the beauty of trees and flowers in early spring
As a promoter of good-will and neighbourly interest during the times when our new country was being settled, and woman’s social intercourse was very limited, the “quilting bee” holds a worthy place close beside the meeting-house. The feeling of coöperation so noticeable in all men and growing communities, and which is really essential for their success, is aptly described in the old “Annals of Tennessee,” published by Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey in 1853 (“Dedicated to the surviving pioneers of Tennessee”):
“To say of one he has no neighbours was sufficient, [Pg 151] in those times of mutual wants and mutual benefactions, to make the churl infamous and execrable. A failure to ask a neighbour to a raising, clearing, a chopping frolic, or his family to a quilting, was considered a high indignity; such an one, too, as required to be explained or atoned for at the next muster or county court. Each settler was not only willing but desirous to contribute his share to the general comfort and public improvement, and felt aggrieved and insulted if the opportunity to do so were withheld. ‘It is a poor dog that is not worth whistling for,’ replied the indignant neighbour who was allowed to remain at home, at his own work, while a house raising was going on in the neighbourhood. ‘What injury have I done that I am slighted so?’”
Quilts occupied a preëminent place in the rural social scheme, and the quilting bees were one of the few social diversions afforded outside of the church. Much drudgery was lightened by the joyful anticipation of a neighbourhood quilting bee. The preparations for such an important event were often quite elaborate. As a form of entertainment quilting bees have stood the test of time, and from colonial days down to the present [Pg 152] have furnished much pleasure in country communities.
In a quaint little book published in 1872 by Mrs. P. G. Gibbons, under the title, “Pennsylvania Dutch,” is a detailed description of a country quilting that Mrs. Gibbons attended. The exact date of this social affair is not given, but judging from other closely related incidents mentioned by the writer, it must have taken place about 1840, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The account reads as follows:
“Aunt Sally had her quilt up in her landlord’s east room, for her own was too small. However, at about eleven she called us over to dinner, for people who have breakfasted at five or six have an appetite at eleven.
“We found on the table beefsteaks, boiled pork, sweet potatoes, ‘Kohl-slaw,’ pickled cucumbers and red beets, apple butter and preserved peaches, pumpkin and apple pie, sponge cake and coffee. After dinner came our next neighbours, ‘the maids,’ Susy and Katy Groff, who live in single blessedness and great neatness. They wore pretty, clear-starched Mennonist caps, very plain. Katy is a sweet-looking woman and, although she is more than [Pg 153] sixty years old, her forehead is almost unwrinkled, and her fine hair is still brown. It was late when the farmer’s wife came—three o’clock; for she had been to Lancaster. She wore hoops and was of the ‘world’s people.’ These women all spoke ‘Dutch,’ for the maids, whose ancestors came here probably one hundred and fifty years ago, do not speak English with fluency yet.
“The first subject of conversation was the fall house-cleaning; and I heard mention of ‘die carpett hinaus an der fence’ and ‘die fenshter und die porch,’ and the exclamation, ‘My goodness, es was schlimm.’ I quilted faster than Katy Groff, who showed me her hands, and said, ‘You have not been corn husking, as I have.’
“So we quilted and rolled, talked and laughed, got one quilt done, and put in another. The work was not fine; we laid it out by chalking around a small plate. Aunt Sally’s desire was rather to get her quilting finished upon this great occasion than for us to put in a quantity of fine needlework. About five o’clock we were called to supper. I need not tell you all the particulars of this plentiful meal; but the stewed chicken was tender and we had coffee again.
[Pg 154] “Polly M’s husband now came over the creek in the boat, to take her home, and he warned her against the evening dampness. The rest of us quilted a while by candles, and got the second quilt done at about seven. At this quilting there was little gossip, and less scandal. I displayed my new alpaca and my dyed merino and the Philadelphia bonnet which exposes the back of my head to the wintry blast. Polly, for her part, preferred a black silk sunbonnet; and so we parted, with mutual invitations to visit.”
The proverbial neatness of the ancestors of the Dutch colonists in America was characteristic of their homes in the new land. This is well illustrated in the following description of a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer’s home, similar to the one in which the quilting above mentioned took place: “We keep one fire in winter. This is in the kitchen which, with nice housekeepers, is the abode of neatness, with its rag carpet and brightly polished stove. Adjoining the kitchen is a state apartment, also rag-carpeted, and called ‘the room.’ Will you go upstairs in a neat Dutch farmhouse? There are rag carpets again. Gay quilts are on the best beds, where green and red calico, perhaps in the [Pg 155] form of a basket, are displayed on a white ground; or the beds bear brilliant coverlets of red, white, and blue, as if to ‘make the rash gazer wipe his eyes.’”
There are many things to induce women to piece quilts. The desire for a handsome bed furnishing, or the wish to make a gift of one to a dear friend, have inspired some women to make quilts. With others, quilt making is a recreation, a diversion, a means of occupying restless fingers. However, the real inducement is love of the work; because the desire to make a quilt exceeds all other desires. In such a case it is worked on persistently, laid aside reluctantly, and taken up each time with renewed interest and pleasure. It is this intense interest in the work which produces the most beautiful quilts. On quilts that are made because of the genuine interest in the work, the most painstaking efforts are put forth; the passing of time is not considered; and the belief of the majority of such quilt makers, though unconfessed, doubtless, is the equivalent of the old Arab proverb that “Slowness comes from God, but hurry from the devil.”
All women who are lonely do not live in isolated farmhouses, prairie shacks, or remote villages. In [Pg 156] reality, there are more idle, listless hands in the hearts of crowded bustling cities than in the quiet country. City women, surrounded by many enticing distractions, are turning more and more to patchwork as a fascinating yet nerve-soothing occupation. Not only is there a sort of companionship between the maker and the quilt, but there is also the great benefit derived from having found a new interest in life, something worth while that can be built up by one’s own efforts.
An anecdote is told of a woman living in a quiet little New England village who complained of her loneliness there, where the quilting bees were the only saving features of an otherwise colourless existence. She told the interested listener that in this out-of-the-way hamlet she did not mind the monotony much because there were plenty of “quiltings,” adding that she had helped that winter at more than twenty-five quilting bees; besides this, she had made a quilt for herself and also helped on some of those of her immediate neighbours.
THE WILD ROSE
That loves to grow in fragrant, tangled masses by the roadside was made to march in prim rows on this child’s quilt
American women rarely think of quilts as being made or used outside of their own country. In reality quilts are made in almost every land on the [Pg 157] face of the earth. Years ago, when the first New England missionaries were sent to the Hawaiian Islands, the native women were taught to piece quilts, which they continue to do down to this day. These Hawaiian women treasure their handiwork greatly, and some very old and beautiful quilts are to be found among these islands. In creating their patchwork they have wandered from the Puritanical designs of their teachers, and have intermingled with the conventional figures the gorgeous flowers that bloom beside their leaf-thatched, vine-covered huts. To these women, also, patchwork fills a place. It affords a means of expression for individuality and originality in the same way that it does for the lonely New England women and for the isolated mountaineers of Kentucky.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, immortalized by “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” produced other stories, not now so familiar to us as to our countrymen of the Civil War period, which showed an intimate knowledge of the home life of the American people as well as the vital questions of her day. In her novel entitled the “Minister’s Wooing,” which ran first as a serial in the Atlantic Monthly in 1859, she [Pg 158] describes a quilting supposed to have been given about the year 1800. Here we can view at close range a real old-fashioned quilting, and gain some insight into its various incidents of sociability and gossip, typical of an early New England seafaring village, as set forth in Mrs. Stowe’s inimitable style:
“By two o’clock a goodly company began to assemble. Mrs. Deacon Twitchel arrived, soft, pillowy, and plaintive as ever, accompanied by Cerinthy Ann, a comely damsel, tall and trim, with a bright black eye and a most vigorous and determined style of movement. Good Mrs. Jones, broad, expansive, and solid, having vegetated tranquilly on in the cabbage garden of the virtues since three years ago, when she graced our tea party, was now as well preserved as ever, and brought some fresh butter, a tin pail of cream, and a loaf of cake made after a new Philadelphia receipt. The tall, spare, angular figure of Mrs. Simeon Brown alone was wanting; but she patronized Mrs. Scudder no more, and tossed her head with a becoming pride when her name was mentioned.
“The quilt pattern was gloriously drawn in oak leaves, done in indigo; and soon all the company, [Pg 159] young and old, were passing busy fingers over it, and conversation went on briskly.
“Madame de Frontignac, we must not forget to say, had entered with hearty abandon into the spirit of the day. She had dressed the tall china vases on the mantelpiece, and, departing from the usual rule of an equal mixture of roses and asparagus bushes, had constructed two quaint and graceful bouquets where garden flowers were mingled with drooping grasses and trailing wild vines, forming a graceful combination which excited the surprise of all who saw it.
“‘It’s the very first time in my life that I ever saw grass put into a flower pot,’ said Miss Prissy, ‘but I must say it looks as handsome as a picture. Mary, I must say,’ she added, in an aside, ‘I think that Madame de Frontignac is the sweetest dressing and appearing creature I ever saw; she don’t dress up nor put on airs, but she seems to see in a minute how things ought to go; and if it’s only a bit of grass, or leaf, or wild vine, that she puts in her hair, why, it seems to come just right. I should like to make her a dress, for I know she would understand my fit; do speak to her, Mary, in case she should want a dress fitted here, to let me try it.’
[Pg 160] “At the quilting Madame de Frontignac would have her seat, and soon won the respect of the party by the dexterity with which she used her needle; though, when it was whispered that she learned to quilt among the nuns, some of the elderly ladies exhibited a slight uneasiness, as being rather doubtful whether they might not be encouraging papistical opinions by allowing her an equal share in the work of getting up their minister’s bed quilt; but the younger part of the company was quite captivated by her foreign air and the pretty manner in which she lisped her English; and Cerinthy Ann even went so far as to horrify her mother by saying that she wished she’d been educated in a convent herself, a declaration which arose less from native depravity than from a certain vigorous disposition, which often shows itself in young people, to shock the current opinions of their elders and betters. Of course, the conversation took a general turn, somewhat in unison with the spirit of the occasion; and whenever it flagged, some allusion to a forthcoming wedding, or some sly hint at the future young Madame of the parish was sufficient to awaken the dormant animation of the company.
It must be “early to bed and early to rise” for the child who would see the sweet morning glory in all its loveliness, as it must be found before all the dew is gone
[Pg 161] “Cerinthy Ann contrived to produce an agreeable electric shock by declaring that for her part she never could see into it how any girl could marry a minister; that she should as soon think of setting up housekeeping in a meeting-house.
“‘Oh, Cerinthy Ann!’ exclaimed her mother, ‘how can you go on so?’
“‘It’s a fact,’ said the adventurous damsel; ‘now other men let you have some peace, but a minister’s always round under your feet.’
“‘So you think the less you see of a husband, the better?’ said one of the ladies.
“‘Just my views!’ said Cerinthy, giving a decided snip to her thread with her scissors. ‘I like the Nantucketers, that go off on four years’ voyages, and leave their wives a clear field. If ever I get married, I’m going up to have one of those fellows.’
“It is to be remarked, in passing, that Miss Cerinthy Ann was at this very time receiving surreptitious visits from a consumptive-looking, conscientious young theological candidate, who came occasionally to preach in the vicinity, and put up at the house of the deacon, her father. This good young man, being violently attacked on the [Pg 162] doctrine of election by Miss Cerinthy, had been drawn on to illustrate it in a most practical manner, to her comprehension; and it was the consciousness of the weak and tottering state of the internal garrison that added vigour to the young lady’s tones. As Mary had been the chosen confidante of the progress of this affair, she was quietly amused at the demonstration.
“‘You’d better take care, Cerinthy Ann,’ said her mother, ‘they say “that those who sing before breakfast will cry before supper.” Girls talk about getting married,’ she said, relapsing into a gentle melancholy, ‘without realizing its awful responsibilities.’
“‘Oh, as to that,’ said Cerinthy, ‘I’ve been practising on my pudding now these six years, and I shouldn’t be afraid to throw one up chimney with any girl.’
“This speech was founded on a tradition, current in those times, that no young lady was fit to be married till she could construct a boiled Indian pudding of such consistency that it could be thrown up a chimney and come down on the ground outside without breaking; and the consequence of Cerinthy Ann’s sally was a general laugh.
[Pg 163] “‘Girls ain’t what they used to be in my day,’ sententiously remarked an elderly lady. ‘I remember my mother told me when she was thirteen she could knit a long cotton stocking in a day.’
“‘I haven’t much faith in these stories of old times, have you, girls?’ said Cerinthy, appealing to the younger members at the frame.
“‘At any rate,’ said Mrs. Twitchel, ‘our minister’s wife will be a pattern; I don’t know anybody that goes beyond her either in spinning or fine stitching.’
“Mary sat as placid and disengaged as the new moon, and listened to the chatter of old and young with the easy quietness of a young heart that has early outlived life and looks on everything in the world from some gentle, restful eminence far on toward a better home. She smiled at everybody’s word, had a quick eye for everybody’s wants, and was ready with thimble, scissors, or thread, whenever any one needed them; but once, when there was a pause in the conversation, she and Mrs. Marvyn were both discovered to have stolen away. They were seated on the bed in Mary’s little room, with their arms around each other, communing in low and gentle tones.
[Pg 164] “‘Mary, my dear child,’ said her friend, ‘this event is very pleasant to me, because it places you permanently near me. I did not know but eventually this sweet face might lead to my losing you who are in some respects the dearest friend I have.’
“‘You might be sure,’ said Mary, ‘I never would have married, except that my mother’s happiness and the happiness of so good a friend seemed to depend on it. When we renounce self in anything we have reason to hope for God’s blessing; and so I feel assured of a peaceful life in the course I have taken. You will always be as a mother to me,’ she added, laying her head on her friend’s shoulder.
“‘Yes,’ said Mrs. Marvyn; ‘and I must not let myself think a moment how dear it might have been to have you more my own. If you feel really, truly happy, if you can enter on this life without any misgivings——’
“‘I can,’ said Mary firmly.
“At this instant, very strangely, the string which confined a wreath of seashells around her glass, having been long undermined by moths, suddenly broke and fell down, scattering the shells upon the floor.
The sunbonnet lassies suggest an outing or a call from playmates on the morrow. These lassies may be dressed in bits of the gowns of the little maid, and the quilt thus become a “keepsake quilt”
[Pg 165] “Both women started, for the string of shells had been placed there by James; and though neither was superstitious, this was one of those odd coincidences that make hearts throb.
“‘Dear boy!’ said Mary, gathering the shells up tenderly; ‘wherever he is, I shall never cease to love him. It makes me feel sad to see this come down; but it is only an accident; nothing of him will ever fall out of my heart.’
“Mrs. Marvyn clasped Mary closer to her, with tears in her eyes.
“‘I’ll tell you what, Mary, it must have been the moths did that,’ said Miss Prissy, who had been standing, unobserved, at the door for a moment back; ‘moths will eat away strings just so. Last week Miss Vernon’s great family picture fell down because the moths eat through the cord; people ought to use twine or cotton string always. But I came to tell you that supper is all set, and the doctor out of his study, and all the people are wondering where you are.’
“Mary and Mrs. Marvyn gave a hasty glance at themselves in the glass, to be assured of their good keeping, and went into the great kitchen, where a long table stood exhibiting all that plentitude of [Pg 166] provision which the immortal description of Washington Irving has saved us the trouble of recapitulating in detail.
“The husbands, brothers, and lovers had come in, and the scene was redolent of gayety. When Mary made her appearance, there was a moment’s pause, till she was conducted to the side of the doctor; when, raising his hand, he invoked a grace upon the loaded board.
“Unrestrained gayeties followed. Groups of young men and maidens chatted together, and all the gallantries of the times were enacted. Serious matrons commented on the cake, and told each other high and particular secrets in the culinary art which they drew from remote family archives. One might have learned in that instructive assembly how best to keep moths out of blankets, how to make fritters of Indian corn undistinguishable from oysters, how to bring up babies by hand, how to mend a cracked teapot, how to take out grease from a brocade, how to reconcile absolute decrees with free will, how to make five yards of cloth answer the purpose of six, and how to put down the Democratic party.
“Miss Prissy was in her glory; every bow of her [Pg 167] best cap was alive with excitement, and she presented to the eyes of the astonished Newport gentry an animated receipt book. Some of the information she communicated, indeed, was so valuable and important that she could not trust the air with it, but whispered the most important portions in a confidential tone. Among the crowd, Cerinthy Ann’s theological admirer was observed in deeply reflective attitude; and that high-spirited young lady added further to his convictions of the total depravity of the species by vexing and discomposing him in those thousand ways in which a lively, ill-conditioned young woman will put to rout a serious, well-disposed young man, comforting herself with the reflection that by and by she would repent of all her sins in a lump together.
“Vain, transitory splendours! Even this evening, so glorious, so heart cheering, so fruitful in instruction and amusement, could not last forever. Gradually the company broke up; the matrons mounted soberly on horseback behind their spouses, and Cerinthy consoled her clerical friend by giving him an opportunity to read her a lecture on the way home, if he found the courage to do so.
“Mr. and Mrs. Marvyn and Candace wound their [Pg 168] way soberly homeward; the doctor returned to his study for nightly devotions; and before long sleep settled down on the brown cottage.
“‘I’ll tell you what, Cato,’ said Candace, before composing herself to sleep, ‘I can’t feel it in my bones dat dis yer weddin’s gwine to come off yit.’”
LIST OF QUILT NAMES
All Tangled Up
American Log Patch
Aunt Eliza’s Star Point
Aunt Sukey’s Patch
Basket of Lilies
Blind Man’s Fancy
Bunnies and Baskets
[Pg 170] California Oak Leaf
Cats and Mice
Circle Within Circle
Cluster of Stars
Coarse Woven Patch
Corn and Beans
Cross and Crown
Crosses and Losses
Crosses and Stars
Cross Roads to Texas
Cross Within Cross
Daffodils and Butterflies
Diagonal Log Chain
Domino and Square
[Pg 171] Double Irish Chain
Double X, No. 1
Double X, No. 2
Double X, No. 3
Double X, No. 4
Dove in the Window
Ducks and Ducklings
Eight Hands Around
Fan and Rainbow
Forbidden Fruit Tree
Four Frogs Quilt
Four Little Birds
Four Stars Patch
Four X Star
Garden of Eden
Goose in the Pond
[Pg 172] Grandmother’s Dream
Grapes and Vines
Hands All Around
Hearts and Gizzards
Hen and Chickens
House That Jack Built
Ice Cream Bowl
Johnny Around the Corner
Ladies’ Beautiful Star
Lady of the Lake
Lily of the Valley
Lily Quilt Pattern
Little Beech Tree
Little Red House, The
Live Oak Tree
[Pg 173] Lover’s Links
Maltese Cross, No. 1
Maltese Cross, No. 2
May Berry Leaf
Moon and Stars
Morning Glory Wreath
Mosaic (More than 25)
Mrs. Cleveland’s Choice
Mrs. Morgan’s Choice
New Four Patch
No Name Quilt
Oak Leaf and Acorns
Oak Leaf and Tulip
Odd Fellows’ Chain
Odd Pattern, An
Odds and Ends
Old Homestead, The
Old Maid’s Puzzle
Old Patchwork, An
Old Scrap Patchwork
Old Bachelor’s Puzzle
Pansies and Butterflies
Peacocks and Flowers
Persian Palm Lily
Pincushion and Burr
Pineapple Patterns (3 in number)
[Pg 174] Pine Tree
Right and Left
Road to California
Robbing Peter to Pay Paul
Rocky Road to California
Rocky Road to Kansas
Rose and Feather
Rosebud and Leaves
Rose of Dixie
Rose of LeMoine
Rose of St. Louis
Rose of the Carolinas
Rose of Sharon
Royal Japanese Vase
Snail’s Trail, The
[Pg 175] Solomon’s Crown
Square and a Half
Square and Swallow
Square and Triangle
Square Log Cabin
Squares and Stars
Squares and Stripes
Star and Chains
Star and Cross
Star and Cubes
Star and Squares
Star of Bethlehem
Star of Many Points
Star of Texas
Star of the East
Stars upon Stars
State House Steps
Steps to the Altar
St. Louis Star
Storm at Sea
Swarm of Bees
Sweet Gum Leaf
Swing in the Centre
Toad in the Puddle
Tree of Paradise
True Lover’s Knot
Tulip in Vase
Tulip Lady Finger
Tulip Tree Leaves
Twist and Turn
Two Doves, The
[Pg 176] Union
Union Calico Quilt
Way of the World
W. C. T. Union
Wheel and Star
Wheel of Fortune
White Day Lily
Wild Goose Chase
Wonder of the World
World’s Fair, The
World’s Fair Blocks
World’s Fair Puzzle
Wreath of Roses
X quisite, The
LIST OF REFERENCES
The Carolina Mountains. Margaret M. Morley.
The Minister’s Wooing. Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Aunt Jane in Kentucky. Hall.
Colonial Days and Ways. Helen Evesten Smith.
The Story of the City of New York. Charles Burr Todd, 1888.
The Social History of Flatbush. Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt, 1882.
Social History of Ancient Ireland. P. W. Joyce.
Chats on Old Lace and Needlework. Mrs. Lowes.
The Crusades. Archer and Kingsford.
The Lure of the Antique. Walter A. Dyer.
Art in Needlework. Lewis F. Day and Mary Buckle.
Home Life in Colonial Days. Alice Morse Earle.
Customs and Fashions in Old New England. Alice Morse Earle.
Pennsylvania Dutch. Mrs. P. E. Gibbon.
On Education. John Locke, 1632-1704.
Old Embroideries. Alan S. Cole in Home Needlework Magazine, 1900-1901.
The Annals of Tennessee. J. G. M. Ramsey, A. M., M. D., 1853.
Woman’s Handiwork in Modern Homes. Constance Cary Harrison, 1881.
Peasant Art in Sweden, Ireland, and Lapland. Edited by Charles Holmes.
First Steps in Collecting. Grace M. Vallois.
[Pg 178] Needlework. Elizabeth Glaister.
Embroidery and Tapestry Weaving. Mrs. A. H. Christie.
The Art of Needlework. Edited by Countess Wilton.
English Secular Embroidery. M. Jourdain.
The Ancient Egyptians. Sir. J. Gardner Wilkinson, D. C. L., F. R. S.
De Bello Judaico. Flavius Josephus.
Turkey of the Ottoman. L. M. Garnett.
Histoire de l’Art dans l’Antiquité. Perrot and Chipiex.
Arts and Crafts in the Middle Ages. Julia de Wolf Addison.
Saco Valley Families. Ridlon.
Minor punctuation errors have been corrected without note.
This book contains some archaic spelling and dialect; all instances have been kept as printed.
Hyphenation has been made consistent as follows:
The following amendments have been made:
Page 5—Gerdin amended to Gardner—"Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, in his history ..."
Page 7—Judaics amended to Judaico—"In “De Bello Judaico,” by Flavius Josephus, ..."
Page 8—Historic amended to Histoire—"... in their “Histoire de l’Art dans l’Antiquité,” publish ..."
Page 18—Phœnecians amended to Phœnicians—"... in Biblical times by the Hebrews and Phœnicians."
Page 95—Eor amended to For—"For those who enjoy making pieced quilts ..."
Page 131—amarylis amended to amaryllis—"... and even scarlet amaryllis pale beside the glowing colours ..."
Page 143—excell amended to excel—"... the desire to excel in the art of quilt making."
Page 174—repeated instance of St. Louis Star deleted.
Page 177—Mountaina amended to Mountains—"The Carolina Mountains."
Page 177—M. amended to F., and and amended to in—"Art in Needlework. Lewis F. Day and Mary Buckle."
Page 177—Alam amended to Alan—"Alan S. Cole in ..."
Page 178—S. C. L. amended to D. C. L.—"Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson, D. C. L., F. R. S."
Page 178—Judaics amended to Judaico—"De Bello Judaico."
Page 178—Dams amended to dans and l’antiquité to l’Antiquité—"Histoire de l’Art dans l’Antiquité."
The following amendments have been made in the list of quilt names at the end of the text, for consistency with the main text:
Aunt Eliza's Star Quilt amended to Aunt Eliza's Star Point (p. 169)
Baseball amended to Base Ball (p. 169)
Blindman's Fancy amended to Blind Man's Fancy (p. 169)
Cogwheels amended to Cog Wheel (p. 170)
Double Square amended to Double Squares (p. 171)
Duck and Ducklings amended to Ducks and Ducklings (p. 171)
Fleur de Lis amended to Fleur-de-Lis (p. 171)
French Baskets amended to French Basket (p. 171)
Hair Pin Catcher amended to Hairpin Catcher (p. 172)
Indian Plums amended to Indian Plumes (p. 172)
Needlebook amended to Needle Book (p. 173)
Road to Oklahoma amended to Road to California (p. 174)
Washington Puzzle amended to Washington's Puzzle (p. 176)
Windmill amended to Wind Mill (p. 176)
Xquisite, The amended to X quisite, The (p. 176)
Please note that not all of the quilt patterns mentioned in the main text are included in the list.