My inspiration quilt was chosen because it had a patriotic theme for the 1850-1865 time period. By the current standards of quilt show judging, it also has an unusual layout. The unique setting with the central flag appealed to me.
I was fortunate that the owner of the quilt, Jeananne Wright, generously allowed me to borrow the treasured original. I took close-up photographs of the quilt including each star, the flag, binding and backing. On the photos I added observational notes on thread, fabric, and stitching.
In designing my reproduction I reduced the size to fit within the study guidelines and to have a wall size quilt. It was important to me that I use the same layout as the original and I incorporated what we might consider mistakes using today’s aesthetic quilt standards. The layout includes omitted sashing, partial stars and cut off star points. In executing the design I stitched the entire quilt by hand as the original maker did. I used 100% cotton fabric, batting, light and dark thread to replicate the materials of the time.
The quilt’s central flag design inspired me to research the use of flags in American history. The American flag was changing during the study period (1850-1865) with the split between the North and South as well as the admission of new states to the Union. Patriotism ran high during the Civil War. Numerous military flags were used in the Civil War in both the North and the South. There were numerous flags for infantry, cavalry, and artillery regiments and battalions. The Navy also used multiple national flag styles. Brigades, divisions and corps also carried designation flags. In some cases flags were homemade and presented to the military companies. Flags were protected by a color guard of a regiment’s most experienced noncommissioned officers. A flag was also a rallying point in the confusion of battle.
Flags are enormously important in the history of our nation. Seeing the stars and stripes in any form evokes strong emotion and sentiment. The maker of the inspiration quilt identified with a particular flag design that was important to capture and preserve in a quilt. Imagine the anonymous maker’s surprise if he/she could see it now.