Hidden Treasures, Modern Lilies

By: Sandra Starley
Fillmore, Utah

After searching in the antique quilt world, I found this inspiring treasure at home. A wonderfully funky and fabulous Lily quilt in rich saturated home-dyed solids. The quilt’s core is the traditional Lily block but the multi-colored background disguises the individual flowers. I chose to recreate the piecing in half scale. I then had to find the right solids. I didn’t realize how different solids could be. Some are very flat, others glow… After more experimenting, I decided on subtle shot cottons, each woven with two different colored threads. This added depth to the blocks, closer to the hand-dyed quality of the inspiration quilt. I adjusted the color placement a bit and added a lighter green to the mix to highlight the pattern.

On to construction, piecing the tricky “y” seams sounded difficult and didn’t work with foundation piecing either; it was clearly time to learn English paper piecing. A lot of handwork followed, but it was definitely the right method for this project. I managed to keep the original’s charm with some wonky piecing and appliqué. I followed the inspiration quilt’s mix of hand quilting: a fancy wreath in the center and simple straight and diagonal lines.

The quilt’s provenance is a mystery. It was described as “North Carolina Lily variation, 1900-1910, Mifflin County, Pennsylvania” when published in the Treasury of American Quilts (1982). At auction in 2007, it was “North Carolina Amish, circa 1900, in an abstract lily pattern.” I consulted with experts on Amish quilts about origin, date, etc. The consensus was it was newer (1930s), and not from Mifflin County. It is likely Ohio Amish, where the Lily pattern was used as well as these colors. Without finding an existing match, the maker and community may remain obscure, but I will keep searching.