COLLECTION: Quilts & Coverlets

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Blue and Green Worsted Wholecloth Quilt

1760-1790
Origin: Great Britain, England, or America, New England
Overall: 105 3/4 x 94 1/2 in. (268.6 x 240cm) Other (selvedge width face fabric): 29 1/2in. (74.9cm) Other (selvedge width backing fabric): 29in. (73.7cm)
Wool (fiber identification by microscope)
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1951-224
This is a rectangular wholecloth quilt made of green glazed worsted twill reversing to dark blue glazed worsted twill, quilted in a balanced but asymmetrical pattern centered around four spiky plumes that radiate from the center of the quilt in an even-arm cross. Surrounding the central plumes are undulating vines with large leaves and floral palmettes. A large plumed leaf angles in from each of the two bottom corners. The quilting is worked in seven wool running stitches per inch through natural-color woolen batting. The edges are turned to the inside and stitched. The textiles measure approximately 29 1/2" (dark blue) and 29" (green) from selvage to selvage.
Label:Just like the many yards of textiles that enclosed a tall-post bed, quilts on early American beds were a conspicuous display of wealth. Many early quilts were imported from England, where professional quilters in the upholstery trade produced them. This example is known as “whole cloth,” or made of a single fabric, which is different from pieced or patchwork quilts. The highly glazed fabric in this worsted quilt, created by subjecting wool to heat and pressure, was probably called "shalloon" in the eighteenth century.
Provenance:Purchased from Mary Allis, a textile dealer based in Connecticut.