I was fortunate to be a quilt docent for the Smithsonian’s Quilt Collection for more than ten years. Mary Jane Moran’s Silk Quilt was always a favorite of mine. It was created by a young bride-to-be living in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1845. At this time, Baltimore Album quilts were very popular in the city, most being samplers of different appliqué designs. Mary Jane decided to create a basket sampler from 100% silk. Her appliqués were stuffed and hand-appliquéd with embroidery thread. Her masterpiece also included hand embroidery, beading, and hand quilting, using 1,001 skeins of silk thread.
I love silk and so I decided to celebrate Mary Jane’s quilt using 100% silk appliqué. I chose to create five machine-appliquéd baskets with a sashing of rosebuds. Mary Jane had chosen thirteen hand-appliquéd baskets with a sashing of strawberries.
I learned SO much from appliquéing with silk. Many thanks to my teacher, Cindy Needham, for helping me learn to work with the silk (which loves to fray), not only for appliqué but for quilting backgrounds, as well. My appliqué designs are inspired by my favorite appliqué teacher, Mimi Dietrich. If you ever get a chance to take a class from these masters, do it!!
I call my little quilt A Tribute to Mary Jane Moran because she created a unique cousin to the beautiful Baltimore Album quilts ALL BY HERSELF while she lived right down the street from classic Baltimore Album quilters.
P.S. It is said that she created Edgar Allen Poe’s burial shroud! Her husband was Poe’s doctor in the last days of his life. Please visit this beautiful quilt when you tour the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.