A while back, I fell in love with doing wool appliqué, so I was thrilled to find that Froncie Quinn of Hoopla Quilts had published a pattern for the Emily Munroe Quilt. That made it possible to combine my new hobby with my love of quilt history. The Munroe quilt enchanted me with its delightfully folksy figures and its story indicating it was likely made by Emily Munroe while her brothers were at war.
I replicated fifteen blocks although I made a few changes in stitches and fabrics. I used Cherrywood hand-dyed cotton for the background as it has a soft look resembling wool. My appliqué was done in commercial felted wool while the original background and appliqué were done primarily with wool recycled from clothing and scraps that a rural family would have had. I also appliquéd two cats in place of dogs, simply because I love cats.
Constructing with the “hot pad” method was a unique experience for me. Each block was finished individually by turning the front fabric to the back to create a binding effect. At first, I struggled to make neat, mitered corners (feeling the quilt police looking over my shoulder). Then I learned that Emily had simply turned the wool edges to the back and casually whip-stitched them down to the backing, so I just finished the rest of mine sans perfect corners. The original backing was heavy fabric including ticking and denim, while in mine I used light cotton with a thin layer of batting inside. Finally I whip-stitched all the blocks together just as Emily had done.
This is the first quilt I’ve made all by hand. I love the results of the couching that was the dominant decorative stitching on the original quilt. Some blocks required 3-6 rows of couching done close together. It took me about a year and a half to appliqué just fifteen blocks. I wonder how long it took Emily to finish her fifty-four.
I thought often about Emily and what her life might have been like, especially as I appliquéd the house and the four horses. The horses may have represented her four brothers who were in the Civil War. I found interesting information about her family enclosed with the pattern as well as in the book, Massachusetts Quilts: Our Common Wealth.