08 November 2006

Civil War Era Quilts

On Monday evening I attended our local area quilt guild's meeting. Our guild holds its meetings in a church so the lighting is not the best for photography. The guest speaker was Jeananne Wright from Longmont, CO. She is an avid collector of old quilts, an historian and researcher and has written for both Quilter's Newsletter Magazine and Quiltmaker. She has curated exhibits, including Primedia Galleries, and the Western Nebraska Museum of Art. Her antique collection has been exhibited many times in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The lecture and trunkshow was titled "Gather up the Fragments, Civil War Era Quilts". Jeananne really knows her stuff! She dresses in period costume and does the genealogy of the quilt if it is a family quilt. The trunkshow was excellent and included these two quilts.

The first picture is of the original quilt that belonged to a southern family that buried it in a wooden box just before a battle. The family fled, the battle ensued (on top of the quilt) and then it rained. The rain seeped into the ground, into the wooden box and onto the quilt. Jeananne said that she would not wash this quilt for all the money in the world because it would wash out the history. Can you see the stains on it?

The second picture is the reproduction of the first quilt that Barbara Brackman asked her to make for her (Barbara's) book. The quilting on both quilts is (of course) by hand. She was fairly true to the pattern on the reproduction. But the original was actually quilted by doing an arc and then 1/4" away echoing that arc. Then about a needle length away was the next arc and then the echo. It was a nice variation of the standard fan. Do you notice too that the quilting pattern is not symmetrical?


  1. The stains do nothing but add to it. What wonderful quilts - old and new.

  2. Anonymous4:07 PM

    What a marvelous program. I would so love to see both these quilts "up close and personal". You are so fortunate to have attended this and gotten to see these.


  3. What a wonderful story , what a wonderful quilt. and the reproduction is just as beautiful as it is ! I wish that in our country were these lectures !

  4. I'm so jealous. That's my favorite quilt era. What a wonderful quilt, and I'm so glad she isn't washing it. A miracle that no one ever did!

  5. Oh I just love old used quilts. In fact my favorites are usually the utility ones that people actually used! The fans on this are so amazing with the "not symetrical" spacing and the echo'ing. I"m so glad a friend told me to come over and see your post!

  6. Paula, what an absolutely amazing story! I could just feel history coming alive as I read your description! Recently, someone I know threw out someone else's great great grandmother's quilt that they donated to our quilting group. She felt that 'stains' made it worthless! I was so upset when I heard about it! Now, I have a story to tell about how a quilt carries history within its very fabric!! Thank you so much for sharing this!!!