ABBIE STANDING IN FRONT OF HER GREAT-GREAT GRANDMOTHER'S QUILT
It pays to visit your local library. You can find more than books there sometimes. In my case, I discovered this large folk "artish" quilt being displayed by a descendant of the quilt maker. She was Abbie who inherited it from her grandmother and who has had it about 20 years. Abbie is a native of Kentucky. She graciously gave me the provenance of her great-great grandmother's Kentucky quilt. I knew at that time I wanted to share it with the bloggers who have shown an interest in some of the quilt squares on my posts.
LOOK CLOSELY TO THE LEFT MIDDLE HEXAGON AND NOTE THE EMBROIDERED YEAR OF 1885 -- THE YEAR IS WAS MADE.
INITIALS A C RESIDES IN THE RIGHT MIDDLE OF THIS PHOTO OF A PORTION OF THE QUILT. A C STANDS FOR ABIGAIL CARPENTER, MAKER OF THE QUILT.
My first thought as I looked over the quilt was what type could it be? It had several influences of Crazy, Embroidered, and Pieced. It was constructed of commercial cotton fabrics and had both treadle stitches in the border and hand stitching in the pieced middle section. It was light weight or what I call summer weight. The cotton fabric on the backside was a blue and white medieval pattern. Given the potpourri of influences my inclination was to call it a transition quilt -- or a crazy/pieced quilt. It was put together during the heyday of the crazy quilt craze -- late 1800s. Pieced quilts were somewhat earlier in popularity.
The cotton quilt's structure is a wide, solid red surround border, solid colored pieced star pattern, and solid colored hexagonal blocks within the center of each star. There are 72 hexagonal pieces that have intricate embroidery work on each, all different. Its red side borders measure 16" wide. Its overall size measures 6' by 6'11" wide.
The maker Abigail Riffe Carpenter signed the quilt within two of the block squares -- one the flourishing initials A C and the other the date 1885. She was around 25, living in Kentucky, and married when she made the quilt.
Crazy quilts were usually made of silk and/or velvet with a puzzle pieced look. Abigail's quilt gave a very organized look. Late 1800s quilt borders tended to be narrow rather than the wide red border of this crazy/pieced quilt. The back of the quilt was a patterned medieval scene usually found on quilts a bit earlier than the late 1800s. But of course, how an old quilt was put together took in social, economic and traditional considerations.
According to Barbara Brachman, quilt historian, the star pattern in Abigail's quilt is called Star Bouquet or Morning Star in her book, Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. She notes that the Shelburne Museum has this same pieced star pattern in an all pieced quilt which they call Morning Star.
Made with expertise, caring, and beauty it is a tribute to Abigail and her present descendant, Abbie. It is also a reminder of the artist in all the women that made our early quilts. After all these years we have begun to recognize these early woman quilt makers as the artists that they were.
The next time you are at your local library and see a quilt hanging on the wall -- ask about it and you may be surprised at what you discover. Also, while there you can check out Brachman's books on the history of quilting -- they contain great research!
FOR MORE OF MY POSTS ON QUILTS AND QUILT SQUARES CLICK BELOW:
QUILT SQUARES ON BARNS
MADISON COUNTY KENTUCKY QUILT SQUARE PROJECT
1800s KENTUCKY QUILTER, SEAMSTRESS
QUILT BLOCK SQUARE -- SCHOOL HOUSE PATTERN