I believe my Study Quilt chose me. The “Friendship Album Star” is an 88” x 88” blue and white signature quilt, with a nearly-identical twin belonging to the Crawford County Historical Society in Meadville, PA. Both were signed by women in the Meadville area and inscribed with the same poem. They date from the Quilt Study time period of 1850-1865 and either would have been an appropriate choice. When I realized the Blue/White Album Star was dated May 8, I was convinced it needed to be my study quilt. You see, I was born on May 8. A connection between the past and present was in the making…and little did I know it at the time, but an inaccuracy was about to be corrected.
With my personal connection to the date of the quilt, I decided to replicate the original design in every way possible. I drafted my own block pattern. I began with a LeMoyne star block, and modified it to create cut off diamonds and an octagon shape for the center. The center octagon shape and reducing the block were a challenge to say the least. Then, finding a blue and white print fabric, in the appropriate scale, became a six-week search. With those challenges out of the way, I could enjoy the piecing and quilting. I hand pieced 49 blocks, the same unsymmetrical sawtooth border and asked for signatures from my family and friends. I also hand-quilted identical designs of a double wreath and close diagonal lines.
Then something unexpected occurred: upon closer examination of the quilt I found several blocks clearly inscribed with the year 1858; however, the documented year was 1855. Someone had misread 1858 for 1855. Family tradition related the quilt being made for an “Aunt Nellie,” born 1858, died 1886. However with the misreading of the year, that was thought to be inaccurate, so another story was created. I believe we can now go back to the original family provenance of the quilt, it being made for Nellie born in 1858. The twin to this quilt is interestingly dated April 1858. (More research will follow.)
I feel like Nellie drew me to this quilt. She wanted the date and the family provenance restored. This is why I decided to inscribe my quilt with the same poem as the two twin star quilts, making the connection of past and present complete.