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Pieced Star of Bethlehem Quilt

1840-1860
Origin: America, Virginia, Alexandria, possibly
Overall: 100 x 104in. (254 x 264.2cm)
Roller and block-printed cottons
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2000.609.1
This is a large almost square quilt with Star of Bethlehem pattern that fills the entire quilt. The central 8-pointed star is created by pieced diamonds that radiate from the center. Four smaller 8-pointed stars fill in the four corners, and 4 half stars fill in the spaces along the sides. Over 2,192 individual pieces of printed cotton were used to produce the stars. The printed floral cotton border is turned to the back and stitched down to create an edge finish. The quilt is made of printed cottons in reds, greens, yellows, blues, and browns. It is backed in roller-printed cotton in a brown foliate pattern. The bedcover is quilted in a pattern of parallel lines in 7 running stitches per inch.
Label:2,000 individual pieces of cotton were used to produce the large Star of Bethlehem and the smaller, 8-pointed stars and half stars around the sides. Although each diamond used to create the stars is slightly different in shape and size, the meticulous piecing by the maker resulted in a flat, smooth quilt top without puckering—a feat only a very skilled quilt maker could obtain. The alternating bands of light and dark diamonds within the stars create a kaleidoscope effect.
Provenance:According to Toby Chittum, the vendor, the quilt came out of a home in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. Chittum purchased the quilt from Janet Berges, who had purchased it from the original Alexandria owners. The quilt was in Janet's collection about 5 years. (Telephone conversation with Kim Ivey 11/30/1999.)