Monday, February 6, 2012

Details of New (Very Old) Quilt

This detail, taken from reverse side, shows the quilting in the center
Here are some more photos of the New England wool quilt. It's just fascinating. Make sure to click the pictures to enlarge - you won't see this type of thing every day. The quilting was done with a sturdy red wool thread, and it really jumps out on the light colored backing. The row of heart clusters that runs down the center of the quilt from top to bottom, is wrapped in wavy feather vines and filled with fine parallel line quilting.

Whole Cloth Quilt, front view
Outside the center row, each heart has two paisley shapes quilted within
The parallel line fill is something I've seen in calamanco and other whole cloth wool quilts throughout the period from 1760 to 1800, but it seems most evident in the quilts dating from the 1780s. Several of those examples are the deep blue glazed calamanco whole cloth quilts.

There are streaks in this panel, possibly from the original dyeing
The color is unusual, and likely to be one of the natural vegetable dyes used throughout New England. Originally, it was probably closer to a brick red, as seen on the rolled binding on the reverse.

Detail view of the corner binding, rolled from front to back

Depending on the light, the quilt can look rich and coppery, reddish brown, or lighter, like tanned rawhide. Other details include some old repairs, a couple spots that could be bleach, and a few small holes exposing wool batting on the inside.

Wool batting (left) peeks out from the inside
There are signs of age, some fading, a few nips in the binding, small holes here and there - but I wouldn't say this quilt has condition issues. It's in very good condition. It just happens to be more than 200 years old. It's not easy to study the genre because there are so few of these quilts out there, mostly in museums. I'm glad to have the quilt. We just don't see things like it in Oregon very often. 

Hope you enjoyed the detail photos. Don't forget to click to enlarge!!


  1. Thanks for sharing the detail photos of the quilting...amazing.

  2. This quilt is spectacular....a true treasure! I'm so glad it's found a loving and safe home with you.

  3. This is really neat. I'm jealous!! ;D

  4. I like the close-ups to see the weave of the wool, textures, and colors. And of course, the stitches. Quite the treasure!

  5. The last picture is interesting because you can see how red the top fabric was at one time.

  6. a true treasure
    thanks for sharing it

  7. Wow! Bill that is an amazing quilt! Quilting with the red thread is very interesting!

  8. It is so lovely, the star of your collection. You cannot show too many photos of this quilt. I am in love.

  9. Thank you for sharing these pictures with us
    I am in awe over the hand quilting....don't you love having a peek inside the quilt!
    What a treasure you have here....

  10. Gorgeous! thank goodness for blogs and facebook so that we can all share out quilts!! Such an inexpensive way to see thousands of quilts. All it costs us is a little drool.

  11. I agree, Karen. Still, there's nothing like seeing it in person. :)