Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wholecloth Quilt, c. 1780, France

Wholecloth Indigo Resist Block Print Quilt, c. 1780, France
Here's a rare treat. It's a wholecloth quilt, made in France, most likely Rouen, in the late 18th century. The fabric is a block printed indigo resist with incredible picotage detail. Picotage, also known as pinning, allowed wood carvers to incorporate very fine dots in a block print, which could not be achieved with carving, by studding the block with brass pins.

This detail view shows the incredible early picotage (click to enlarge)
There is another quilt made with the same fabric, on display not long ago at the Museum of Printed Textiles in France. The quilt is smaller, and the block design is not as carefully aligned as it is in my quilt. But it is the exact same fabric. That is why I believe my quilt is also from Rouen. To view the other quilt, click here.

reverse detail with multicolor print and distinctive quilting design
The things that really told me this quilt was French were the reverse fabric and quilting design. It's actually a reversible quilt, with multicolor flower basket print, or panier de fleurs, as my Facebook friend Sandra Starley would say. The quilting design is very much in keeping with the French quilts of the period, and includes parallel line quilting along the borders, winding cable with parallel rows, and double-line diamond grid lattice in the center.



  1. Beautiful!!:
    a "Piqué de Marseille" with an "indigo de Nîmes" Look at the book"Boutis de Provence" Kathryn Berenson ,nearly the same in picture.
    Marvellous treat!

  2. WOW is right! Wonderful to see and read about. If they ever reproduce that indigo I want a bolt!

  3. "Boutis de Provence" is a great book. I already had it in my library, and it was in my hands moments after the quilt arrived and the box was open. :) Someone must've given me the book as a gift, because I haven't had a specific interest in French quilts, although I've always admired their beauty.

    Mimi- I'd go for some of that fabric, too. There's a fabric loss in one area, and I may have to dye some fabric at home to do the repair.

  4. Wow! Amazing craftswomanship! Just stunning! And evokes the mystery of provenance!