American Quilt Study – part 3

Geometric Shapes have always made some of our most stunning quilts.  A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit England and it is where Geometric Shape quilts began,  but Americans have also loved to see what they can do with them.


Paper piecing in other geometric shapes

Paper piecing in other geometric shapes

Hexagons seem to be the most popular shape, but these two charming quilts at the Charleston Museum show what other geometric shapes can do.  Before I move on to another historical quilt element, I will share two more hexagon quilts from the museum.  Yes, they sorta did Grandmother’s flower garden even in the 1800s.


Hexagons and panel quilts

Hexagons and panel quilts

Both of the above quilts lead us to another topic:  Pre-Printed Panels.  This was one of the papers shared at the American Quilt Study Seminar this year.  The first documented panel was made about 1815.  They were most prominently made in 1830 – 1845.  It appears that they were printed in both England and America as some panels are only found in one of the two countries.  The first quilt pictured below is dated 1825 and includes a center panel and much broderie-perse surrounding it.


Chintz panels used in quilts

Chintz panels used in quilts

In her research Merikay Waldvogel has found 33 different panel designs.  Some were large enough for a great center of a medallion, while others were smaller and you will see several of them in one bed covering.  To clarify the above spread, the center is broderie-perse, while the pieces surrounding it are panels.

spread made with multiple panels

A spread made with multiple panels dated 1830 and not quilted.

As I enjoy seeing them I am reminded that the first bed spreads and quilts were not made with scraps by the lower class.  It was the upper class ladies who had the time and resources to make these beautiful pieces of art.  These ladies were also not afraid to spend several years making one.

The next set of pictures are from one quilt as I want you to enjoy all the details.  You will see a quilting pattern that surprised me.  I always thought that the Baptist, Methodist, etc. fan  appeared in the 1900s!  We are always learning!

IMG_0722 IMG_0725

A panel quilt at the Charleston Museum

A panel quilt at the Charleston Museum

A fun discovery I made three years ago while in the London V&A museum is that women have always hoarded or saved their special fabrics until just the right project came along.  We saw one quilt that had a panel which had been saved for 30 or more years before it became part of a quilt!

This seminar has more benifits than just seeing gorgeous quilts and learning about them.  You get to re-connect with people at this yearly event.  I think we found 8 other women who had traveled with my friend and I to France this summer.  There are others that we just look forward to seeing each year.  Some of these we have stayed connected with all year on Facebook.

A Charleston home

A Charleston home

Another benefit is experiencing different regions of our country.  Charleston is such an amazing city.  On a bus tour I learned that part of it is due to the poverty after the Civil War.  As the northern cities were building new tall buildings,  the South was only able to restore what they had.  And what a treasure it has become!


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