Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Missing Links to Mystery Pattern

Two North Carolina quilts on the Quilt Index
I've blogged about the quilt I am donating to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum (IQSC), and how it will join the only other quilt I'd seen with the same pattern. Well, yesterday the number of quilts I've seen with this pattern doubled. It was one of those revelations that keeps research going, and the exciting thing about the discovery is maker's names associated with both quilts. I will pass this research along to IQSC when the quilt goes to them in the near future.

The discovery came when I was researching the elongated diamond sashing among North Carolina made Rocky Mountain Road / Crown of Thorns (New York Beauty) quilts. I was looking for something to support the idea that quilts with brown and teal (or blue) were made in North Carolina, and searched through all North Carolina quilts made between 1850 and 1900. Although I couldn't find enough information to identify the teal green/blue and brown as a strong tendency among North Carolina quilts, I found these two quilts.

The first of the two North Carolina quilts (pictured, top left) is the closest match in terms of color scheme and applique design. This quilt was made by Julia Pearce of North Carolina between 1876 and 1900 and the pattern is not identified. The second quilt (pictured, top right) was made by Molly France Phillips of Yadkinville, Yadkin County, North Carolina, also between 1876 and 1900, and the pattern is called Palm Leaf.

My quilt (pictured, above right), had been loosely attributed as Kentucky, 1845. However, some have thought it was made later, in the 1870's. The quilt at IQSC (pictured, above left) is called "Kentucky Tobacco Leaf" and is dated 1860-1880. According to the notes, it is "possibly made in Kentucky" but not verified as such. The same IQSC quilt, when published in Robert Shaw's "Quilts: A Living Tradition" is dated 1850.

To summarize what I now know, at least four quilts with this pattern exist. The two quilts with the most specific family and maker's information were made in North Carolina between 1876 and 1900. The two quilts with approximated information had been attributed as Kentucky made between 1845 and 1880. Three of the four quilts are four block quilts, roughly square. One has two extra half-sized panels. There are variations in the colors, sashing construction, cornerstones, and mostly subtle variations in the applique design. Of the four quilts, the applique design in Molly France Phillips' quilt is most dissimilar.

If anyone else has seen other quilts with this applique pattern, please comment below.


  1. Bill, interesting research and a great use of the Quilt Index. Could I put a link on the AAQ FB page? Have you queried Merikay Waldvogel (Knoxville) or Connie Brown (from here in Asheville)? I could send them the link too.

  2. Hi Amy, thank you for the note. You are perfectly welcome to put a link to the blog on the AAQ FB page. I also make reference to the Quilt Index in the previous day's blog about elongated diamond sashing, which could also be a North Carolina thing. Please feel free to share the links with anyone you feel may be interested. I haven't queried anyone about it, but have put these ideas out there in the world because I'd love to hear what people think.