MY OLDEST QUILT
For this Christmas weekend I’m showing you a quilt with red and green appliqué. It was the very first quilt I ever had.
As a new bride I was decorating our first home in California and chose rose colored shag carpet for the bedroom (this was back in the mid 60’s of course). I was buying antique furniture and came across this quilt for sale. Because it was perfect for our bed and knowing nothing about quilts, I enjoyed using it. I grew up in Rhode Island and, to my knowledge, had never seen any quilts. However, blue and white woven coverlets were common there, made in the New England textile mills.
I knew this quilt was old and guessed it was from the 1930’s. I began reading about quilts and realized that mine was older. The colors were older dyes and the red, made using harsh mordants, has begun to disintegrate. The green appears to be blue over yellow. The appliqué was done with blanket stitching.
A few years later I ordered a free sample copy of Quilters Newsletter, about a dozen black and white pages. It might have been their first issue in 1969. I sure wish I had it today. It showed a drawing of my quilt block, called a Harrison Rose variation. William Henry Harrison, a military hero and the Whig party candidate, was elected President in 1840. Harrison died after only one month in office and his memory was honored in the Whig Rose or Harrison Rose quilts.
In addition I found that there were hearts quilted in the muslin areas. These were used for brides’ quilts.
Overall, each row of blocks is different. Some have extra flowers added. Each of the three appliqué borders has different flowers, as if the makers were down to their last red scraps. The fourth side has no border except the muslin, often used with pillow shams covering it.
Because I bought the quilt in the San Francisco area, I like to imagine a young bride from a modest home setting out with her husband in a covered wagon, with families who were seeking a new life in the West. What stories that quilt could tell!
That also began my search for other antique quilts, many not in perfect shape, which needed a good home. I have many now, including a collection of doll quilts. It was not until 1980 in Spokane that I took up quilting, and now have another home among all you wonderful quilt bloggers.
From my home to yours, may these days of celebration bring love and joy to you all, and may God bless you richly.
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