Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do Quilts Have Healing Powers?

Economy Patch, c.1810, New England
This quilt may be familiar to anyone who read my blog before I moved over to Blogger. I thought I'd blog about it today because I'm stuck at home with some kind of viral bug, and I've been wrapped up in this quilt for a majority of the last 24 hours. 

It is the oldest quilt in my collection, and is an Economy Patch made in the early 1800's. In my earlier blog, I said,

"One of the things I love about this quilt is its original condition. It has signs of wear in some of the fabric and on the binding, but is very sturdy and actually the only quilt I use on my bed. It hasn't been touched by restorers, and the condition tells a story."

Economy Patch is a block design that visually looks like a center square within a square on point. In my quilt, it is actually a square with triangles on all four sides, and the triangles form the square on point. These blocks are alternated with rows of plain square patches, and there are triangles pointing inward around the whole edge. 

The quilt has some unusual characteristics, including two colors of wool twill tape binding, red on three sides and green on part of one side. The back is made from woven coverlet material. It has been called colonial overshot coverlet, but I'm really not sure if that's exactly what it is. 

I brought it to show an appraiser one time, and she discovered cat hair on it. That's when I had to fess up about using it on my bed. I've been scolded many, many times about using this quilt on my bed, and even promised I wouldn't do that any more...but sorry...I broke my promise. I won't go as far as calling it my "binky" but it's about as close as anything could be.

If quilts have healing powers, I'm betting on this quilt to be my healing quilt. In the winter, it's very warm. In the summer, it breathes, and is never too warm. It's almost like it has a life of its own. It doesn't care how old it is, it just does its job - beautifully and with dignity. So, if you're wondering where I am over the next few days, the likely answer is "under the quilt!"


  1. The quilt is nice, but what about the bedhead! mother of pearl inlay, gorgeous.

  2. I love that you're using this quilt. Isn't that what they were made for? The memories come from using not storing quilts. I sent a quilt to my neice. She wanted to store it and keep it nice. I said, "Use it and wear it out." She uses it to wrap one of her four little girls up in when they are sick. That is the only time it is brought out of storage. What a wonderful memory this will be for them and who knows. . . it may have started a tradition they will carry on with their own children.

  3. Wonderful quilt. You're likely feeling the vibes from the years-gone-by quiltmaker. Just wrap up and don't worry. Before you get to sleep this evening, say a prayer and ask to dream about the quiltmaker...who knows?

  4. Under the quilt is a great place to be when you are under the weather and got to say it goes perfectly with you headboard. Quilts were meant to be used. I love the Binky word something we don't use here but know exactly what you mean.

  5. Thank you all for the comments. They make me feel better, too. Quick note on the headboard. I commissioned the panel, created by artist Ken Humpherville, through the Quintana Gallery here in Portland about ten years ago. Have always loved it, but not just any quilt can go with it. The inlay is abalone, and there are also small shells, which have a name, but I forget. When it was carved, it was the largest carving he'd ever done - his masterpiece.

  6. A quilt, whether old or new, has healing power! I love that one and it certainly looks like a great palce to stay snuggled! get well soon.

  7. My cat likes it, too. She's a good bed warmer. :)

  8. Growing up if one of us got sick we got to have Grandma's wool quilt on top of us...the top is wool, the "batting" is a wool navy blanket, and the backing is - you got it - wool. It may not be the most beautiful quilt in my collection but like yours, it has special healing powers!