Princess Feather

By: Judith Thompson
Wenonah, New Jersey

The inspiration quilt is a four-block red and green on cream Princess Feather quilt. My study quilt replicates the size and colors of one feathered unit. The corner feathers are reduced in size. On the antique inspiration quilt, the feathers spin clockwise on three blocks and counter clockwise on the fourth block.

The red fabric is solid bright Turkey red dye made from the madder plant. Madder dye originated in the Middle East and Europeans thought all the territory was part of Turkey, thus the name. This red fabric is timeless and used by quilters through the nineteenth-century and well into the twentieth-century. The green is over-dyed of blue and yellow. The result is spring green. The inspiration quilt has some areas where spots of blue are shadowing on the green feathers. To learn more about the over-dye process, I used the two-dye method to produce the green fabric on the small quilt. My experiment was with modern dyestuffs.

The inspiration quilt is quilted over the background and the appliqué in three-fourths of an inch crosshatch with white thread. The appliqué feathers are stitched with white thread.

This red and green on cream quilt could be dated circa 1840 to 1860, the general time period for Princess Feather quilts in solid red and green. This design is also known as Prince’s Feather. The inspiration quilt is in excellent condition. Perhaps it was a “best quilt” saved for special occasions.