The Fairer Flower

The Fairer Flower

This is a tribute to Susan Prentis Prindle of Waitsfield, Vermont. I wanted to re-discover a quilt with deep roots in my community. I found Susan’s quilt at the Vermont Historical Society. Given by Mr. and Mrs. William Walter, the acquisitions record notes “this is to be returned to Waitsfield if there is ever a museum there.” Little is documented about Susan’s life. She is footnoted simply as the wife of the Reverend Lyman Prindle.

Her quilt is constructed with a Combination Rose appliqué pattern. She meticulously completed 25 blocks and assembled them strip fashion with sashing on the diagonal. The rose design is a turkey red fabric on pink and white striped shirting with green leaves. The sashing and background are cotton muslin. In the 1850s rose patterns held special significance for brides, and this color palette was often used for “best quilts.” It is exquisitely hand-quilted.

I chose to appliqué nine blocks, 9.5” by 9.5”, assembled in the same fashion, set on point. Turkey red reproduction fabrics did not provide a convincing match. I settled on Judy Rothermel’s Party of Five for “Turkey red,” Chateau Chambray for the pink shirting and a Marcus Fabric green to reflect the intent of the maker. A maiden voyage, each step presented an exercise in trial and error, from calculating measurements, to learning a pre-turned method for the design, to mastering Liuxin Newman’s approach on quilting stitches.

As I pieced together this quilt, hard-earned stitch by stitch, I yearned to know Susan’s thoughts as she created her keepsake, unmarried at the age of 28. Her father was a founding member of the Wesleyan Methodist Society in 1853. This society took a more radical position on slavery. Reverend Lyman Prindle served as pastor from 1853–1860, during the period Susan worked on this quilt. Susan would have participated in church activities such as the Maternal Association and Tract Society. Was she captivated by this charismatic preacher? Was there hope in her heart as she carefully placed each stitch?

In January 1882, at 57, she married Reverend Lyman Prindle, fifteen years her senior, after the death of his first wife in August 1881. Did she stoically assume the duties of a pastor’s wife? Or at last find joyful purpose for her bridal quilt? Lyman died in 1888. It is my fervent wish that these six years together were the happiest of Susan’s life.