I selected this quilt because I had studied it previously as part of my South Carolina quilt research. Of the eight quilts I researched, this quilt top was the only one that had a medallion center which featured a basket. It was originally sewn by members of the Pope/Townsend families in the 1840s and created using chintz appliqué cutouts. I designed my Edisto Island Basket Medallion study quilt using similar elements.
I constructed my quilt by appliquéing a preprinted basket motif to a sateen ground, surrounded by floral images and birds. I added more flowers onto the central medallion to fill in the open areas. I tried to find flowers and birds that duplicated the originals but could not find exact matches, so I used what I felt was most compatible. The original quilt top was very faded so it was difficult to determine the color and brightness of the chintz fabrics.
I learned that appliquéing multiple fabric images to a background takes longer than estimated and involves a lot of preplanning. Placement of the various motifs becomes a visual journey to find the exact flower or leaf to put in a particular spot.
Although the original quilt top would probably have been hand quilted, I chose to machine quilt the top. I also tried to make my quilting designs echo those used in the 1840s. I definitely felt a connection with the creators of the historic top, since I had researched the families extensively while writing my 2013 Uncoverings paper, “Lowcountry Chintz: The Townsend/Pope Quilt Legacy.” Many of the family names are inscribed on the blocks that surround the original medallion center.
I enjoyed my experience creating the basket study quilt, but wish I could have found reproduction fabrics which were closer to the original chintz fabrics.