Quilt Flap

This blog is for and about vintage and antique quilts and the folks who love them. We get together and show our quilts. Hence the term 'quilt flap,' as in, drag-n-brag or show-n-tell. Starting in coastal North Carolina, a region of the American South with lots of history and mosquitoes, we hope other people will join us as we search out textile treasures and share them on this blog.

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Location: North Carolina, United States

Quilt teacher, designer, writer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two New Old Quilts for the Collection

It's been yonks (translation: a v-e-r-y long time) since I purposefully added any quilts to my collection but last weekend I bought a quilt and it's a beaut. And then re-remembered I'd found another old quilt at a local flea market some months back that merited some pictures too. The flea market find is first and it's a mystery.

The quilt was hanging from the rafters of a pole barn at the flea market. Dusty, dirty, crumbling--all of the above. But it was still worth the $10 being asked and already I've had many times over the enjoyment of the piece. The pattern is a Mariner's Compass variation, in shredding pre-1860 chintzes, on a formerly white ground. The quilting is magnificent--about 14-16 stitches per inch. The quilt is huge--about 90" by 88". The large size is a tip-off from antebellum quilts and this one was made as a show piece by a show-off seamstress.

For some reason, 19th century North Carolina quiltmakers were fond of piecing, rather than using an applique technique, for large circular patterns. It must have been a bugger to draft. No short-cut applique here--the whole thing is pieced!

I carefully looked the quilt over and found that the maker had signed it! In one corner, in tiny stitches:
(first line)  Isabella Wadsworth (second line) LO___N followed by March 16  18_9. It's a mystery with a few clues. What we know: Isabella must have been wealthy enough to afford nice fabrics. The quilt is large, as in made for a wedding gift. The stitches are superb--this was NOT Isabella's first quilt. She was proud enough to sign the quilt--a rather rare gesture unless the occasion was worth remembering (see wedding quilt above). Is it a North Carolina quilt? Or perhaps Virginia? I monkeyed with the picture to try and bring up the lettering with only limited success. My apologies.

The second quilt is definitely a North Carolina quilt and will be a repair/restore project. Bought in Smithfield, NC, the quilt was likely made around 1900. The pattern is some sort of eight-pointed star. The cheddar-teal green-marine blue-oxblood brown combo, plus its triple-strip sashing, is almost a trade-mark of late 19th-early 20th century North Carolina  quilts. A few patterned shirtings could be 1890-1910. The quilt is incredibly white and bright. Evidently the quiltmaker finished the quilting (whew!), took it off the frame, and stored it away unbound. A mouse got into it and did some damage over the years and likely the oils in raw lumber helped make the darker stains.

I don't care--I love this quilt. It will be worth the time and/or money to get it restored. And yes, I will bind it and finally, a century later, finish the quilt.