Monday, December 7, 2009

Ongoing Quilt Research

During my tenure as Education Coordinator at Magnolia Mound Plantation Baton Rouge, LA, we sponsored a quilt research program. During the year we had hundreds of quilts brought to our attention. We noted the history, origin, technique, color, fabric, name of pattern, etc. Anything the owner could tell us about the quilt was noted. All this information went into The Louisiana Quilt Documentation Project . Now, there isn't a quilt that can be passed up. Saturday night as we attended Christmas in Rosenberg, a small town that boasts many an antique shop, one window display presented a lovely red and white bowtie quilt. Of course, the quilter might have a different name for the quilt and since it was after hours, no questions could be asked about the quilt.
In my stash are a couple of wonderful 'antique' quilts--and like most of these blankets of past eras there is no knowledge of the quilt maker or origin of the pattern. This quilt was found at a California garage sale and only $15 was asked for this piece of history.
Some parts of the quilt are in sad shape; maybe due to use or maybe due to fabric dyes. In some of the blocks you can clearly see the hand carded cotton that was used for the batting. More research on my part is needed to give a name to this pattern. This lovely work of art is hand stitched and quilted.
The nine patch wonder was a 'freebie', can you believe? It definitely was used for warmth as the batting is thick and lumpy, but it still has eye appeal. It is hand stitched but machine quilted.
The one quilt in our possession that was lovingly handstitched and hand quilted by hubby's grandmother is the best example of workwomanship. Not necessarily an antique (yet!)this quilt spent many a night bringing love and warmth to our bodies. It suffered smoke damage during a house fire, but it was rescued and remains sheltered from light and other damage now. " Trip Around the World" is the name of quilt --tiny blocks, handpieced with love. And like so many quilts this reminds us of the many quilter hands that worked their magic with scraps of fabric, needle and thread.


  1. This is so very interesting. Years ago I purchased a quilt top at the local mercantile...the owner fills her shop with things she buys in estate sales all around Oklahoma and other nearby states. The top was all hand pieced, and for backing and stabilizing, the person had used newspaper. If I very very carefully open it up and lay it out, I can read parts of the paper...dated 1943...talking about Roosevelt and submarines in the Atlantic, to my (often foggy) recollection. Each block is different, and the fabrics are so worn that it was a labor of love for her to have even put that time into it. I value it highly with love for the person who had so little and worked so hard. It lives in a closet and I feel bad about that...yet it's too weak to be actually used, should I put it to a backing (which would be a shame). Any suggestions? I don't have wall space or I'd consider hanging it...

  2. This is so interesting! We did not have anyone bring in a newspaper quilt. Of course, this could be a paper pieced quilt. Please send me a photo. Do you have a spare bed? If so, that is a good way to display quilts that are fragile, but keep it out of the sunlight.

  3. Unfortunately, we have no spare beds to lay it out on. The few old quilts I have live in a cupboard. I will try to remember to get the top out and photograph it as best I can and send to you, probably later in January. I do not know what a paper pieced quilt is, I always assumed she used it to stabilize the weaker blocks (it's only on the backs of some of them). I wish there was a museum that would like to have it, I'd rather it be there than my closet. If you know of one that might be interested, please share!