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Sunday, October 4, 2009

1800s KENTUCKY QUILTER, SEAMSTRESS

ABIGAIL FRANCES RIFFE CARPENTER
Quilter and Seamstress
1861 -- 1908

Much of the social history of early America has been lost to us precisely because women were expected to use needles rather than pens. Yet textiles ... have been an almost universal medium of female expression. ~~ Historian, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

ABIGAIL FRANCES RIFFE CARPENTER'S WEDDING DRESS.

Documentation of Abbie Frances Riffe Carpenter's skills were put together in a family booklet titled: To Be Rooted: The Story of Abigail Frances Riffe Carpenter 1861 -- 1908, written by family member Mary Rachael Kirtley McCormick, 2002. In it she describes Abbie Carpenter, the seamstress and quilter, " gifted seamstress, made her wedding dress as well as elaborately embroidered pillow cases, delicately trimmed baby clothes and quilts of exquisite design."

ABBIE RIFFE MONTGOMERY KIRTLEY
photo circa 1930
Grandaughter of Abigail Frances Riffe Carpenter
Modeling Abigail Frances Riffe Carpenter's wedding dress made in 1880

LOG CABIN QUILT MADE BY ABIGAIL FRANCES RIFFE CARPENTER, DATE UNKNOWN

Log cabin quilts were regional quilts made in the eastern half of the United States. Although, in the early 1800s the pattern was used in England. Popularity for creating log cabin quilts was from the mid-1800s through 1900. Legend has it that it gained its popular status as a result of President Lincoln and his association of being raised in a log cabin when he was young. Most log cabins have a red small square within each block. The red square represented the hearth of the log cabin. The above quilt blocks don't appear to have the usual red squares. However the quilt has the distinguishing feature of light and dark strips usually found on the pattern. This type of quilt was usually tied rather than quilted. For more on the log cabin pattern history click here.

CLOSE UP OF CENTER BLOCK OF ABOVE LOG CABIN QUILT.
CENTER SQUARE HAS EMBROIDERED INITIALS T.L.C.

Abigail Frances Riffe Carpenter was born in Lincoln County, Kentucky and died in Kentucky at the approximate age of 47 years. She married, at the approximate age of 19 years, Theophilus Luke Carpenter who was born on June 24, 1861 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. He died August 19, 1930 at the approximate age of 69.

One wonders if the quilt, with her husband's initials, could have been made as a wedding gift for Theophilus?

CRAZY QUILT MADE BY ABIGAIL FRANCES RIFFE CARPENTER DATE 1894

Crazy quilts were most popular between the 1870s and 1910. They incorporated asymmetrical scraps of material. Silk and velvet were a common material used for the scraps. Decorative stitching was used between the pieces. Animals and plants were sometimes embroidered on the material pieces. For more on crazy quilts click here.

EMBROIDERED PILLOW CASE BY ABIGAIL CARPENTER

The family document, To Be Rooted, tells us more about Abigail Carpenter; "Abbie was also a painter of large landscapes, three of which survive, made pencil sketches, and painted the iron mantel in her house with decorative designs. She also made collages in her scrapbook. For example she would cut a table from brown paper, a vase from wallpaper scrap, flowers from a magazine and pasted them all together to make a charming picture. ... A memorial was designed for a dog named Daisy, that apparently died Jan. 3, 1885. Great-grandma Abbie cut the shape of a table from wallpaper, added a vase with flowers, and placed a picture of a dog on the table."

To view and read about another quilt made by Abigail Carpenter click here.

She was a true artist of her time.

CLICK ON MY POSTS BELOW FOR MORE ON QUILT SQUARES AND QUILTS:

QUILT BLOCK SQUARE -- SCHOOL HOUSE PATTERN


KENTUCKY QUILT 1885 WITH PROVENANCE


MADISON COUNTY QUILT KENTUCKY SQUARE PROJECT


QUILT SQUARES ON BARNS

3 comments:

  1. What a wonderful creative talent Miss Abigail had. It's nice that she found expression for it in quilts, scrapbooks, and other forms that could be passed on to her children and grandchildren.

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  2. Hi Genevieve,

    Thanks for the nice comments about Miss Abigail. She is but one of many Kentucky women that exemplified creativeness as a seamstresses and quilt maker. It is good that a history exists on her as so many times family histories are lost. -- Barbara

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