Friday, May 14, 2010

1850-1909 Quilt Excavation Part #1

Click on photos to enlarge.

This latest acquisition happens to be signed and dated in ink (Mary 1909) on a back corner.

However, from the photographs on eBay I suspected some of the fabrics were much earlier than the 1909 date on the back corner of the quilt.

I was so excited when I spread it out that I could hardly contain myself. It makes me feel like a kid at Christmas time. Exploring any "new to me" so-called "cutter" quilt excities me in this way. You never know what you might discover. You cannot explore an "intact" quilt in quite the same way.

My excitement grew exponentially when I realized there was possibly another layer to this quilt, or at least parts of an older quilt inside the outer layer.

Notice in this photo that there appears to be another layer of fabric "inside" some broken areas.

What I believe to be a light weight woven blanket was used as the batting and is a lovely piece of fabric in and of itself. Makes me wonder if it might have been a shawl? It is not as large as the quilt itself so it doesn't fill the whole quilt.


Another older binding is also showing underneath the outer binding in some areas.

If you go back and look at the first photo again, you will see two rather wide white lines beginning on the left side of the quilt runnning horizontal under the 2nd row of blocks. These are actually two different pieces of fabric. I am assuming these are print flaws.

Below is a close-up of that flaw.

The photos also show the deteoriation of fabric and the light woven blanket (shawl? fabric?) that has been used as the batting.

See close-ups of most of the other fabrics in this quilt here. Click on photos to enlarge.

Time out. I must tell you about my work table.

This table has so many practical uses, the cutting of fabric being one one of many. Below I use it to hang a quilt for close-up photographic documentation or simple examination.

I also use it to spread out my research binders when I want to pull some off the near-by bookshelf.

My father-in-law designed a quilt studio for my mother-in-law after they retired and moved to their dream spot on a quiet island in the Pacific Northwest. The room is approximately 14x16 feet. She requested a working table on which she could lay out a twin-size quilt! To do that he took a lovely 1960s vintage (modern clean lines) game table or maybe dining table that had extensions on either side. When open it measures 62" or approximately 5 feet. He then built a "rolling" frame with brakes to set this table onto. (see brake in last photo)

On top of this 5 ft. "rolling" table he added a huge piece of plywood 48 x 96. Set on rolling "feet" as it was, the table could be moved out of the way as needed. After we moved here I cut the table down to 78". It simply took up too much room for my needs.

Notice the labeled boxes on the far side of the table down on the floor? My mother-in-law cross-stitched labels for all her cardboard storage boxes and then glued them on the end of the box!

More to come!


Want to keep up with the ecavating? Read:

 1850-1909 Quilt Excavation Part #2 by clicking here;

1850-1909 Quilt Excavation Part #3 by clicking here;

1850-1909 Quilt Excavation Part #4 by clicking here.


  1. I've passed up countless quilts on my "hunts" because they weren't perfect. I think I might have to start taking closer looks! This was a fabulout find on your part!!!
    Patricia :o)

  2. Oh, it is such fun to find "hidden quilt treasures", Patricia. I also have one from my Great Grandfather's home in the Shenadoah Valley of VA. This one actually had a full-size seperate quilt inside the outer quilt. I dated the inner quilt about 1860s. My father gave the whole thing to me in the 1980s. He ahd no idea it was q uilt insde a quilt. The outer quilt top actually was a collection of blocks that dated from the 1840s to the 1890s. (My father was the first generation not to grow up in the Valley since 1770.) He inherited the house after his cousin died. The cousin had inherited the house from my two great aunts in the late 1960s. I loved visiting the Valley as a child and eventually did all the genalogical work on the family, uncovering the family roots back to Switzerland. Everyone in America in my direct paternal line had long forgotten their European roots because they had come over in 1732 as Mennonites and then gave up that particular Christian sect a generation later when they moved from PA to VA.

  3. Hi Karen,
    So is the blue toile an earlier quilt or a foundation layer or are you still investigating?
    I have a 1830 or earlier strippy star that has a couple of layers as pieces were repaired and/or just covered up in about 1890 and it has a similar feel. It is always exciting to make such discoveries.
    Sandra Starley
    Come see my antique quilts

  4. So Neat! I am glad there are people who resist cutting up the older quits. ( I refuse to call them cutters.) I love seeing the signature of the back!

  5. Great blog! Is that inner cloth/fill wool? I have my old flannel quilt from my twin bed growing up. It is in tatters. I think I'll trim the threads and use it inside a simply constructed top to be able to use it. Thanks. I have been away from blogs; my own and reading so many others! Summer is here. I will try to catch up

    1. Hello Jean. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. Someone suggested to me that it may be wool. It is very light weight. I think it might have been a lovely throw or shawl even? But I don't know a whole lot about wool. I should take it to one of my spinner/weaver friends here on the island and find out.