Perfect is Not Essential

By: Gloria Comstock
McGaheysville, Virginia

My study involves the same Pineapple pattern used in two quilts. One quilt is the Esther Blair Matthews quilt dated 1858. The other is signed Lucie Frensely. Esther lived on Old Valley Pike in Lacey Spring/Tenth Legion area that is in the central part of Rockingham County, Virginia. Lucie lived in the Stonewall District, which is in the Eastern part of the County. Both women personally experienced the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley. This pattern could have been published as it is found on other quilts from other areas, such as New York.

Both women had a very fine quilting stitch. Each had an aesthetic sense in designing their quilts. Esther used the traditional Album block placement. Lucie only used the Pineapple pattern, but found the delightful secondary design of the pineapple tops when the blocks were placed adjacent to each other. Esther was precise in cutting her appliqué patches. Lucie’s has a serendipity free spirit feel to it. I would propose this may be in part due to her lack of precision. Lucie’s quilt had considerable more quilting; she was the maiden aunt who lived with her sister. Esther had a family of ten children. Esther’s time was more limited. The ground quilting design on each of the quilts are different. Esther used the echo design and Lucie used the two rod straight design. Even though these quilts are very different, each was a good design choice. The pineapples were both quilted in a crosshatch stitching.

Each woman signed her quilt. Esther, however, included a date. Comparing the pattern and style with the genealogy of both quiltmakers, it would support Lucie’s quilt being made within a reasonable time frame as Esther’s.

In this study, I felt I was at the quilting frame with Lucie and Esther.