Since I have lived in the South most of my life, I thought it would be appropriate to study quilts made by Southern women. Gunwale Quilts caught my attention right away. I envisioned myself in the position of a Southern woman – it was early in the war. The blockades were established but supplies were still available. I wanted to do anything I could to bring our men home. The call went out to provide quilts for auction to raise funds to purchase gun boats and I answered the call.
The Alabama Gunboat Quilt by Martha Hatter is one of the few quilts that we can definitively trace to these auctions. It is an especially intricate and lovely example of craftsmanship which includes beading and embroidery. The vase is from Judy Ann Breneman’s instructions for a Confederate Gunboat Quilt. For the bouquet, I thought I would simply find a bouquet of flowers in a fabric, cut it out and appliqué it to the center block. My research quickly dispelled that notion. Barbara Brackman explained American women cut floral chintz flowers and then rearranged them.
Jane’s quilt was completely by hand. I used my machine as much as possible. The butterfly is an especially modern method. I found a butterfly image of the right size on a graduation card, scanned it, printed the butterfly on fabric and attached it by thread painting the black wings. The quilting was another matter. I used the bar attached to even feed foot to space the lines in the center crosshatching. This went well until my fourth turn back into my starting point. The lines didn’t come together in the perfection shown by Jane’s quilt. In this case, the marking of chalk lines would have been a better option. It still looks okay from a galloping horse, but I know it’s there.
I learned that although things change, they also remain the same. Modern methods are great, but then again, the old methods work just as well and sometimes better than new, supposedly improved methods. A quilter decides on her methods by what gives her the most joy.