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Quilt, House Top with Sacking Back

1960-1970
Origin: America, Alabama, Wilcox or Dallas County
Overall: 84 1/2 x 66 1/2in. (215 X 169 cm)
Cotton, wool, synthetics
Museum Purchase, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund
Acc. No. 2013.609.4
Rectangular quilt pieced from a variety of cotton, wool, and synthetic textiles in a pattern usually known as "Housetop." Backed with sacking materials and stitched with running stitches. No batting.
Label:Housetop Quilt
Susana Allen Hunter (1912–2005)
Wilcox County or Dallas County, Alabama, 1960–1970
Cotton, wool, synthetic fabrics
3–6 running stitches per inch
84 1/2 x 66 1/2 in. (215 x 169 cm)
Museum Purchase, Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections, 2013.609.4
Beginning with solid green, Susana Hunter built up her quilt’s central square by means of lengthening strips of textiles in a multitude of wovens, prints, and stripes. A variation of the Log Cabin pattern, this version was usually known as Housetop in the African-American communities around Dallas and Wilcox Counties, Alabama. Square and rectangular pieces fill out the rest of the quilt. At some time in the quilt’s history, Susana added newer textiles over older floral prints that had disintegrated with laundering or use. A faded area across the center of the quilt, undoubtedly caused by drying over a clothesline in the sunshine, seems to add character and break up the solid center green square with an abstract line of gold that is picked up by the outer yellow and gold patches.
Although the quilt has a fascinating array of textiles on the front, the backings are of equal interest. Cotton sacks used to package sugar and animal feed were opened out and stitched together to back the quilt. Susana turned the sacks so that the wording faced inside, although it is still legible. One of the sacks reads, “100 LBS. NET / PURE / REFINED SUGAR / FINE GRANULATED / CANE SUGAR / MANUFACTURED BY/ [not legible] / PHILIPPINES / 100 LBS. NET WT.” The other sack features a head of a toothy grinning mule and the words “100 LBS. NET / SPECIAL / MANUFACTURED BY / COTHRAN FEED CO. / SELMA, ALA.” The right side of the feed sack is turned to the inside of the quilt.
The bedcover is quilted with 4 to 5 running stitches per inch but has no batting.