There were just a few applique quilts amongst those on display at Living History Farms the weekend before last. But they were all full-size, detailed hand applique, and worth taking the time to show you… even if you never make a hand applique quilt yourself!
This one was a simple, two-color quilt, roughly Queen size, in ivory and a dull brown (they probably would have called the color “drab” at the time it was made–which is very close to what many of us would describe it as today):
I think the label called it a “Rose of Sharon” variation, but if it is, it’s a very simplified variation. I think it resembles more closely a poinsettia applique pattern I have seen before. Any thoughts on that?
This is close to the applique butterfly quilt my Mom made just a few years ago, but this is made with 30s solids and feedsacks. Each butterfly is blanket-stitched by hand in a darker shade of embroidery floss, that coordinates with the fabric of that butterfly:
It looks like it is just a top (or a flimsy), but it was quilted, without batting and therefore referred to as a summer coverlet/quilt.
This one is an older example of applique using chintz fabrics (c. 1850). The brown spots are from moisture staining over the years, and the fact that they believe this quilt has never been washed. A quilt collects dry soil (dust, etc.) over time and when exposed to small amounts of moisture (humidity, etc) the dust/soil leaves a rust-like mark. There were at least nine of these large applique “bouquet” motifs, and this was the least stained example I could find to photograph.
As you can see, some of the fabric petals have disintegrated or been worn away, but it is still a gorgeous example of chintz quilting!
I hope you enjoyed seeing these vintage examples, and that they inspire your modern quilting! If you have a museum or library, etc., in your “neck of the woods” that displays vintage quilts from time to time, I’d highly recommend making the effort to go see them. Just admiring the hand work from a century ago is worthwhile, and it always pays to support our cultural institutions by utilizing them.
Do you do applique projects at all?
If so, do you hand-applique, or only by machine?