Quilting study

This morning I read an interesting article written by Barbara Burnham in the May newsletter of the Baltimore Applique Society.  She talked about quilting ideas for applique beyond the usual outline plus grid design and shared some good pictures.  Since I am working on refolding my quilts I thought I’d study some of the quilting in the antiques.  Those of you who study antique quilts know you always find something new when you do that.  I started with the Mexican Rose quilt pictured above because it is an amazing example of a heavily quilted applique quilt.

The quilter did not outline her applique motifs like you usually see.  Instead, she quilted right through the flowers and outlined the diamonds with a feather motif.  On the back, it doesn’t look like a flower at all but instead an interesting diamond shape.  I have larger pictures of the block (front and back) below.


There is also a large wreath quilted in the alternate blocks.  If you look closely at it and the picture above, you can see that this quilt was done in very closely set lines that resemble stippling but are not.  If you stare at it for a minute it really looks like stippling because your eyes start to cross.  The center of the wreath may actually be stippling – I just cannot tell.

The next quilt pattern is often called “Farmer’s Delight” and is believed to come from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  This quilt did.  In addition to being a delightful collection of c. 1870-80 fabrics (including centennial fabrics) it is a truly delightful collection of quilted surprises.

I was doing my folding early today and I find the morning light particularly good at revealing quilting motifs.  I glimpsed a motif that looked remarkably like a fork and thought to myself, “I wonder if there is a knife?”  Well, sure enough, there is!  Below, I’ve included a photo of the actual quilting and then an enhanced image that shows there is a fork, knife, and spoon.  There is more that I will have to examine later.


The motif on the lower right looks like a giant diamond ring to me

Finally, I have a red and green double Irish chain quilt that is a puzzle to me.  On the back, the quilting thread that corresponds to the green blocks appears to be a dark green color.

Double Irish Chain with Lemoyne Stars

Hopefully, you can see the darker thread in the photos below.


I am wondering if the green in the fabric migrated into the thread or if the thread was dark green to begin with.  I think it would be a bit of a pain to keep changing thread when doing the quilting.  On the front, the thread on the green patches appears to be the exact same color of the fabric and is definitely lighter than it appears on the back.

That’s my quilting study for the day.  BAS members can read Barbara’s article in their most recent newsletter.  It isn’t on her blog, Baltimore Garden Quilts, but she has loads of other interesting information there and I urge you to stop by for a good read.

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  1. I love looking at the quilting on antique quilts. The place setting is really unique. I've seen lots of interesting motifs, but never a fork and knife! I like to add hidden motifs in my quilts too so I don't know why I would think this is so unusual. I also like to find the unexpected"date" quilted into an antique. Thanks for sharing these.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful pics. What a pleasant surprise to see a quilted fork, knife and spoon in such an elaborate quilt. Delightful!

  3. Fascinating! Thanks for all the pictures of the quilting, it often gets overlooked and must have been much more work than the patchwork or applique of the top. Very special.

  4. I enjoyed reading your quilt study today and loved all the pictures you've shared! What a surprise to see the utensil design quilted into that stunning Farmer's Delight quilt!

  5. Taryn – a wonderfully informative & fascinating post! I was struck by the similarity of the petals in your Mexican Rose to the Honeysuckle quilt in Four Centuries of Quilts (Williamsburg Collection) Amazingly close and tiny quilting stitches revealed. The charm of finding eating utensils…and different colored threads. Quilts continue to soeak to us don't they? One of our family quilts is done with different colored threads – I thought it was just too definite a change and the quilter chose darker threads for darker fabric.

  6. What gorgeous quilts you have! The quilting is fascinating! So interesting to see the fork and knife – I'd never thought of quilting those into a quilt – lol! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!!

  7. I am fascinated by these quilting patterns–especially the utensils! How unusual. Wish there was a way to know why that was quilted in!
    The thread color is a mystery.

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