Thursday, October 14, 2010

Suspension Bridge - Variation on a Classic

I wrote a lot in yesterday's blog, so today I'm just going to post some photos and a few notes about two Suspension Bridge quilts. Suspension Bridge is a variation on a classic - the traditional Rocky Mountain Road / Crown of Thorns pattern later known as New York Beauty. The earliest date I've found for a published pattern called Suspension Bridge is 1922, from the Ladies Art Company Quilt Pattern Book. The pattern also has other names, including Sunflower.

The quilt came from Cindy Rennels of Cindy's Antique Quilts in Clinton, Oklahoma. It was recently displayed as part of an exhibit called "New Quilts from an Old Favorite: Sunflower" from March 19-June 15, 2010, at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. This quilt comes with a circa date of 1880. Several of the fabrics appear to be from the late 19th century, but there may be clues to indicate a later date.

I bought another quilt of the same pattern a few years ago, and it had also been given a circa date around 1880. Knowing how difficult it is to date solid fabrics, I may need to rely on some other clues to get a truly accurate idea of the date. When I saw the 1922 published pattern, it made me think this quilt could be as late as 1925. Just because it's red, white, and green doesn't mean it's 19th century.

Fabrics are major clues, but there are always other clues. The width of the binding, method of quilting, threads, date the pattern was published, quilt size and other characteristics may ultimately unlock the mysteries of both quilts. These two quilts look vastly different because of the use of fabrics, but both have 13" blocks with 7 points on each of the four quarter-circle wedges, and a center square in each block. The seemingly identical block design and size may be my biggest clue. It doesn't seem like a coincidence that both quilts share these block dimensions and characteristics.


  1. New Information: Just found a pattern published by Carrie Hall in the early 1900's, before Suspension Bridge. Hall's pattern was called Sunflower, Broken Circle, and Indian Summer. Maybe these quilts are earlier than 1925!!

  2. Clara Stone's 1906 booklet Practical Needlework Quilt Patterns included the same Broken Circle block. Love your quilt finds and blogs! Gloria Nixon

  3. oOoo0OoOoo - now THAT I'd love to see!! Where can I find it?

  4. I'd love to see an original Clara Stone booklet and have searched for years to find one. nothing. The good news is the Stone quilt blocks are included in the American Legacy Quilt Index Series. Google and the website will come right up.

    The book American Quilts in the Modern Age, 1870-1940, features a Broken Circle quilt on the front cover and pages 34, 35. The colors are red, yellow, green, and dark blue with a date of 1880-1890. I believe this is the same block pattern as your quilt?

  5. Thank you very much, Gloria! I will have to check it out. I am corresponding with Connie Chunn, who just did a presentation about the Ladies Art Company at the AQSG Seminar. She says the Suspension Bridge pattern was 18". Mine are both 13" - so they may indeed be earlier than I thought.