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Quilt top, pieced silk and paper templates

1700-1730
Origin: Great Britain
63" w, 71 1/2 h
Silk and velvet with couched metallic thread and chenille. Piecing and basting threads are linen and silk. Backings are different weights of plain-woven linen. Several of the backings are semi-sheer silk and wool, with natural wool in one direction and pink silk or wool in the other direction. Machine-stitching threads are cotton.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2005-1,A
Patchwork quilt made up of pieced, appliquéd, and embroidered squares separated by black sashings with appliquéd motifs on the black velvet grounds. The pieces and appliqués are backed by paper. The textile is composed of twelve blocks joined by black sashing, with a portion of 9 3/4-inch black velvet border sewn to the left side. Each block consists of piecing over paper templates in various intricate geometric patterns. Six of the blocks have additional blocks with appliquéd and embroidered figures, including a man on horseback, turbaned figure, woman with basket on head, seated women, men standing beside horses, woman holding oriental-style parasol, another turbaned figure, birds, and pyramidal stepped buildings. The sashings have appliquéd stars and floral slips. The black-grounded border depicts a building with steep roof, seated woman holding a fan, man in fashionable suit, woman with basket on head and dog, flying exotic bird, and figure with bird perched on her hand, all surrounded by floral slips and stars. The textile is backed with pieced-up sections of tabby linen, tabby cotton, and sheer silk. One of the paper backings is an old letter; other templates include newspapers, books, and hand-written accounts. For separate removed section, see piece B.
Label:Pieced Quilt Fragment, missing borders
England, 1700-1730
Silks, metallic threads, paper
2005-1A
An extremely important example of quiltmaking, this fragment shows very early evidence of piecing and appliqué, techniques that became much more common 100 years later. The outer border, inner bands, and some of the blocks have appliquéd animals, flowers, and people in clothing styles of the late seventeenth to early eighteenth century. The beautifully precise piecing uses silk fabrics that date around 1690 to 1730, each folded and basted over recycled paper templates that were left inside. The papers included printed newspapers or published books and some hand-written letters dating as early as 1652.
Although few early patchwork quilts survive, written records show that upper-class women with access to expensive textiles did piecing as a leisure activity from the early eighteenth century.
Provenance:Purchased in England by Ron Sampson (England and Thailand) around 1990-1992.