Sunday, January 16, 2011

Late 19th Century Quilt Fabrics

Or early 20th Century quilt fabrics. That's still all I know about this quilt, and that's mainly because it has shirting in it, although the shirting has not held up well.

After studying it, and all the other quilts that have been left to us, Mom and I are pretty sure it wasn't made by Mother S. because of the combination of machine stitching, which she didn't have until she had been married quite a while, and the dark threads used to stitch white fabric, which she wouldn't have done. So we have concluded it was probably made by Mama H and her sisters because of the varying degree of skills in each block. It could have been a project where their mother taught them to quilt, or the older sisters taught the younger. Or it could have been a project their mother required of them. Mama H's mother passed on before Mom was born and she knows very little about her, except that she was very strict and very religious. She must have quilted, like most women of that time, but either it was never mentioned, or Mom didn't pay attention when the adults talked about it. What kid pays attention when their parents and grandparents are talking - unless it's about them? I didn't. Wish I did though. There are some genealogy puzzles I bet I could solve if I had just paid attention at some of those boring family gatherings.

Some of the blocks are well made, with straight, even stitches, and other blocks are a bit sloppy, both in stitches and in the inconsistency of the color of thread. A few blocks are machine stitched, but most are hand stitched, and it is hand quilted. Even the quilting is done in several different colors - suggesting that it was done by different people.

I've spent the better part of a day trying to identify even one fabric in it, and I haven't been able to, so I am going to post each of the fabrics here, in the hope that someone stumbles across this blog someday and knows something about one or more of them.

The first is a black on white lightweight cotton.

The next one is also a black and white lightweight cotton though it looks like a heavy loose weave. That's part of the pattern, with tiny dashes of black that look like shadow.

This is a black and white plaid on lightweight cotton that looks a bit like houndstooth, and has white dots scattered on it. In the picture, it looks like brown because it has faded a bit, but it is or was a black.

This is a black and white plaid lightweight cotton, with a flower petal design in each corner where the white dotted lines intersect.

This is a gingham plaid lightweight cotton or shirting. It was the common fabric in each block and the fabric that has not held up well. Either it was well worn when it was put into the quilt, or it was a poor quality fabric. Most of it has washed out and several blocks are missing large pieces of this fabric.

This is another blue and white fabric, a light blue stripe on white cotton shirting. It is faded, but no rips in any of it.

White shirting fabric with tiny circle of red roses

White shirting fabric with alternating dotted lines and dotted zig zags

White shirting fabric with alternating stripes and dotted lines

This is now a brown on tan lightweight cotton, but it might originally have been black on tan or even black on white. It looks like a loose weave, but again, that's just the printed pattern.

This is a lightweight fabric of a tan stripe on a tan background.

This is a brown and white plaid, a heavier fabric than the lightweight cottons in the blocks, and a looser weave. It is the quilt back.

This is a dark blue fabric with white designs that look a bit like smiley faces or a planet and it's circling moons. It is a heavier fabric than the blocks and is used as sashing.

Brown plaid

This is a light gray striped fabric. I don't know what fabric it is, it has kind of a slick feel to it.

This is a pretty light gray plaid on lightweight fabric or shirting. The plaid is made of a boxed design.

Pink and gray plaid

And last is a medium blue fabric with a white flower. It is a heavier fabric than the other block fabrics also.

Until next time, may you have blessings and a memory of the past,


  1. I do so wish I had paid attention when my dad was talking. And I wish he were here (with a memory before Alzheimer) so that I could ask questions that were even more than who my Grandmother's mother and father were. I was an adult when some took place. I even remember where it took place, but cannot remember what he said. So stupid.

  2. Nope, that quilt doesn't look like anything I've ever seen.
    Yes, we all wish we had listened more often, or asked more questions when we were younger. But who does that when they are children? Here I am later in life, both parents gone, and no one to ask so my genealogy that I have done so far has been all on my own. One day I will write about it on my blog.

  3. Can't help you with the id'ing of the fabrics, but you are so right, I wish I knew more about the earlier generations of my family.

    Important that we document our own generation and the quilts we make for our children and great grandchildren !

  4. This is the kind of quilt my daughter (when she was little) used to hold up to her cheek and say, "Yup, it's a magic quilt.)


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