I am a self-taught quilter, first learning patchwork and appliqué techniques by reading quilt books, then by taking classes and studying quilts. I favor appliqué quilts, and the Rose of Sharon was the first appliqué pattern I made in 1981. It was raw edge appliqué, machine-stitched with a satin stitch on cotton/polyester solids. Needless to say, the quilt did not survive. I have learned various techniques since the early eighties to improve my patchwork and appliqué. I decided to revisit the Rose of Sharon pattern for my study and successfully create a quilt using my improved skills.
I browsed the Quilt Index for examples of this pattern, which has many variations. Some have a central stylized rose of layered petals with vines, leaves, and rosebuds radiating from the four sides. Asymmetrical patterns have a rose on a stem with multiple rosebuds radiating around it. Fabrics are typically solid colors of reds, pinks, and greens, with yellow and orange sometimes included. Many quilts incorporate a swag border.
My inspiration quilt is found in the permanent collection of the DAR Museum. The quilt has twenty blocks with asymmetrical roses facing the center of the quilt, surrounded by an elaborate swag border. I chose to recreate the pattern in a four-block quilt with a simple border. I chose two shades of pink solid fabrics for the rose centers, whereas the inspiration quilt used red and pink. I used several different techniques to prepare the appliqué shapes, then hand-stitched them to the background. I finished the top with free-motion machine quilting.
I enjoyed reading the history of the inspiration quilt and the Rose of Sharon pattern. It has a biblical name, likely derived from a verse in Song of Songs: “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Quilts of this pattern were popular in the mid-nineteenth century into the 1930s, often the pattern of choice for bridal quilts. Similar rose patterns include the Whig Rose, Kentucky Rose, Wild Prairie Rose and Colonial Rose. In her book Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them, Ruth Finley states, “The best known appliqué pattern of all was ‘The Rose of Sharon.’”
The inspiration quilt was made in Missouri as a bridal quilt for Mary Ann Poindexter by her mother and sisters. She married Dr. John Marshall Staples on September 30, 1852. Unfortunately, he died during the Civil War.