The quilt I have chosen to replicate is a child’s quilt made around 1850. I was drawn to this quilt for a couple of reasons. I liked that it is a true child’s quilt (not a cut-down), which I could replicate in full size for this study. I was also enticed by the opportunity of closely matching the original fabrics, thanks to the many reproduction fabrics available to us these days. This quilt has the ubiquitous double pinks, so popular in quilts of the time, as well as green ground prints (“poison greens”), chrome oranges, madder and turkey reds, and browns. It certainly was a blessing to be able to work with the original quilt directly in front of me.
The most interesting design element of this quilt is the layout of the colors. Although at first it may appear to be a scrappy quilt, there is a very intentional pattern created by where the maker chose to put her blocks. Note that the center is a set of nine pink and green blocks. These are surrounded by repeated patterns of the other blocks. Not all of the blocks are repeated, but most are. The three-sided border leaves no doubt as to the proper orientation of the design.
As I was making this quilt, I often thought of the paradox of a child’s quilt in the context of the Civil War. On one hand, the quilt is a symbol of love, warmth and hope, while the war was so very divisive and horrific. Was it made by an expectant mother for her as yet unborn child, or perhaps made after the child was born? Did the child live a long life? How did the war affect the child and his or her family?
The original quilt was used, yet valued enough to be saved for all these years. While we don’t know the origin of the child’s quilt, it’s highly likely that the family was, in some way, directly affected by the American Civil War. To what extent, we will never know. I like to think of this quilt as a symbol of innocence lost.