Quilting Motifs

Tools | Social Aspects | Quilting Bee

There were many techniques of quilting. Pieced or patchwork quilts, first made in the latter part of the eighteenth century, are those in which the patterns follow geometrical designs--mosaics laboriously contrived of hundreds of small squares and diamonds. At first these small pieces were sewn directly onto a fabric backing, but by 1800 women had develped a more practical method and made the quilt parts in block units, each a portion of the overall design theme. The patchwork counterpanes of the nineteenth century were usually made of solid-colored or printed cotton fabrics, alternating with white for contrast. A favorite color scheme combined turkey red with green cotton, appliqued on white. Quilted stitching on white background--perhaps in a lozenge diaper pattern or in squared criss-crossing--provided textural interest to the plain areas. No matter how elaborate the patchwork designs, the stitching of the quilted portions greatly enhanced the attractiveness of the spread. Floral wreaths (center, bottom), always popular, enabled the quiltmaker to express her love of color and imagination in a garden fantasy. Baskets of flowers (center, top)was also a perennial favorite in patterns, arranged with geometric simplicity.
The Star of Bethlehem (left) has had a great attraction for oldtime quiltmakers. The making of the star called for thousands of diamond-shaped pieces of chintz, calico, and copperplate fabrics, carefully chosen for color blending and harmony. The eight-pointed star had four corners and four triangles to be designed according to personal whims. Floral wreaths, horns of plenty, and basket of flowers are further embellished with the introduction of the flag and eagle, pineapple, Bible, doves and lyre offer a complete grammar of decoration expressing the sentimental lore of midnineteenth century life (right).