Fruit Basket Frame

Fruit Basket Frame

I selected the British Basket of Fruit Center Medallion summer spread as my inspiration quilt because I love printed center medallions from the early 1800s, in general, and the Basket of Fruit, especially. The center medallion, or frame quilt, as it is called in Britain, is one of the iconic quilt styles of the early nineteenth century, a time period in quilt history I find particularly interesting. Also, because I enjoy piecing, the frame quilt method of construction suits my style.

I did not replicate the original, but rather took inspiration from it and from many other British frame quilts of the period. My goal was to create a quilt that would look like a miniature version of a period piece. Scaling down to the required dimensions means the block sizes are out of proportion to the medallion for an accurate miniature, but they are the smallest practical size for my skills. I searched books and internet-based collections to find both quilting patterns and blocks known at the time the original was made. The original had all-over clam shell quilting, but I used mainly stitch-in-the-ditch quilting because the thread could not be scaled down and would have obscured the graphic quality of the piecing. I tried to choose time-appropriate reproduction fabrics in a scale appropriate for the small size of the study quilt.

Mary Conroy, in her 1976 book 300 Years of Canada’s Quilts, states that the Basket of Fruit printed center medallion was printed by Thomas Armitage of Bristol, England. I tried several reference text searches, internet-based approaches, and an inquiry to the Bristol Central Library to identify Thomas Armitage or other chintz printers in the area to verify that attribution but was unable to do so. My efforts to identify the printer of the medallion continue.