Civil War era quilts

A chance to see Civil War era quilts in two different venues. Well, there were some pre-war and post war. Just saying 19th c. quilts doesn’t sound right.

On Saturday I was at the Huntington Library for an amazing tour. More on that later. Usually when I go, I’m walking around the gardens, at a friends suggestion I went into the American Art Gallery, boy am I happy I did.

I went to see the exhibit Becoming America, Highlights from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding collection. Some paintings, a lot of crafts and of course quilts.The background of this Bethlehem star is really a lovely blue not grey. What can I do, the camera sees what it sees. Since it is made from solids, I’m going to guess it was from the south. Look at those feathers!!  A flying geese quilt.Here is an incredible quilt. Bethlehem stars, Broderie Perse – this is where one cuts motif out of chintz fabric and appliqués them, a way of stretching out that very expensive chintz that came from Europe. Then we have smaller pieced stars as well as very accurate saw-tooth borders.

This is attributed to Mary Seeds Moon, made in Baltimore around 1840.A detail of the quilting, OMG. This quilt is in phenomenal shape, which means it probably wasn’t used much. One of many painted boxes. This is a quilt pattern, so I have to share.On to the Valley Quiltmakers guild meeting with Arlene Arnold. She farms up in Colusa CA and she loves and collects these wonderful old quilts. Here she is in all her glory in her Civil War garb. She bought this when she was sharing her quilts with Civil War reenactors a number of years ago. Got to get as much use out of it as possible. Her she is showing her version of a quilt that is similar to Mary Seed Moon’s. Unlike most of her collection, this was purchased from a museum that was liquidating it’s textile dept.

The larger pieces of chintz in this quilt look very similar to the border in the Fielding collection. Unlike today, where we have so many options in fabric, there was less choices in those days. An Expensive Chintz could very easily have found it’s way to two quilters.The lecture started with us saying the pledge of allegiance, how refreshing. The first quilt Arlene showed is this Seven Sisters quilt.  This pattern was developed in the south to represent the first 7 states to secede from the Union. The North forbad flying the Stars and Bars, so intrepid women made this quilt pattern over and over and displayed it in the window, on railings.  At some point Northern soldiers may have caught on, but they never bothered the women or their quilts

Southern quilts were usually made with solid fabrics and northern quilts had many more prints. Look at the effort that went into this baby quilt.Nine patch with prints. Two quilts made by the same quilter. No, she didn’t sign her quilt, but she did include hearts in her quilt. Here is a quilter who makes sure that her signature block be large and noticeable!Front of the quilt, from the north, see all the prints. But…Here is back. I have been known to use orphan blocks on the backs of my quilts. Look at how many this quilter has. I think most of us today prefer the back to the front.Another kind of signature, quilting in the quilters scissors!

I am very fortunate to be able to see these wonderful quilts, made by women over 150 years ago.


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