The Antique Quilt

Extra special surprise posting today! I now have a very special quilt in my house, given to me by my Aunt Nancy a few weeks ago. I plan to do several postings about this quilt, not put everything out there in one day. Keep coming back for more!!

It is definitely an antique, likely 100 years old. It was possibly made by my great grandmother, more about that another day. I will be bringing it to the New England Quilt Museum later in December where it will be examined by the Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project. They may be able to tell me more about it. Here it is…(sorry it’s sideways)

It is not a quilt by the strict definition; it does not have a batting or filler of any kind. However, it is stitched through all layers with quilting stitches. It is 65” x 72.5”. It is full of colorful fabrics that may be all silk. There is cotton on the back.

The center of the quilt has 7 blocks across and 8 down, total of 56 blocks (check my math). The blocks are 7.5”, sort of square. They are the Pineapple block, also sometimes known as the Windmill Blades block. The silks were sewn by hand onto a muslin foundation and then joined together. I know there is muslin underneath because there is disintegration of some of the fabrics, mostly the pink, and I can see the foundation.

The first border is strips of colorful fabrics of differing lengths and a 1 3/8” width. The second border is a double row checkerboard pattern with a total width of 3 1/8”. The final border is dark brown with a 1 5/8” width.

The back is medium solid brown cotton and interestingly, it has a solid purple border stripe of 3 5/8” around the edge. It was quilted with tiny hand stitches of brown (or black) thread. She basted it together first with white thread. (I know because I found a stray thread through the quilt with its knot still in place. I quickly pulled it off – maybe I shouldn’t have?) It is loosely quilted: each block has quilting in the ditch around one row and one border has quilting in the ditch. The edge was finished by folding the back over to the front and whip stitching it closed. The binding is narrow, about 3/16”.

There is some damage on the quilt. The fabrics have worn along the center fold and some are pulling away from the seam. The pink especially is brittle. When I held it up, the pink fluttered away like feathers. There are some very small circle stains or marks on the back. Looks like maybe rust, one spot of oil.

I have been doing a lot of research and I plan several more postings about this treasure:

  • Who made it? Why do I think it was my great grandmother Lucretia?
  • Who was Lucretia? What was going on in her life? Why did she make it?
  • A little bit of genealogy
  • Why did she make it from silk?

So many questions! Such a quilting mystery.

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