When I discovered this antique Rose of Sharon or Whig Rose quilt, I was immediately enchanted and I christened it “Quilted Joy” as every busy inch exudes joyfulness and makes one smile. I love all the charming details: from the happy birds to the unique border. From that first moment, I wanted to recreate it and the Quilt Study was the perfect catalyst to get my fingers moving.
I began by studying the quilt closely and was very impressed with the design creativity and the amazing hand workmanship. The quilt appears to be a labor of love, going well beyond the average appliqué quilt. Rose patterns were often used for wedding quilts and it is easy to imagine a bride or her mother creating this joyous example for such an occasion. Rose of Sharon is a reference to the Bible verse, the Song of Solomon 2:1-3:
”I am the Rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”
That blissful scene seems to come to life on the quilt with the birds enjoying berries while safely nestled between all the beautiful flowers.
However, our unknown maker could have been “voting with her needle” and used this pattern to show her strong support for the Whig party (Whig Rose) or alternatively, the Democrats (Whig’s Defeat or Democratic Rose). Unfortunately, this quilt, like the majority of 19th-century quilts, has little provenance and we can only wonder about the true motivation for creating such a masterpiece. Perhaps the maker was passionate about religion and politics or just loved to quilt like me.
I chose to make a slightly simpler, scaled down version. It was hard to leave out any of the wonderful motifs and the intertwined designs were a bit tricky to separate. And once the needle was finally in hand, the small scale made for many challenging hours of handwork (appliqué, embroidery and quilting). The design process was continuous, as I worked to make the study quilt my own while honoring the vision and capturing the joy of the original maker.