There is a group of quilts made with solid color fabrics known as “Rainbow.” Two are shown in Patricia Herr’s book Quilting Traditions and four are owned by the International Quilt (IQM). The Solid Color theme for the 2018 AQSG Quilt Study gave me an opportunity to study these quilts and I selected one owned by the IQM as my inspiration quilt.
The design of all six quilts is identical with the sun, blue sky, rainbow with rain, and thunder clouds quilted in the dark sky. Each quilt has a child’s initials and date elaborately embroidered in bright golden thread. Research indicates these Rainbow patterned quilts were made by at least three Mennonite families living in the Lancaster County area – the Carpenters, Habeckers, and Brubachers – which gives the quilts a distinctive regional and cultural link.
The Rainbow quilt I selected as my inspiration quilt bears the date “1892” and the three initials appear to be “CHZ.” The maker of this quilt and recipient of this quilt are not known but recent genealogical research done at the IQM credits the making of this quilt to either Annie or Emma Brubaker for David Brubaker’s wife-to-be Christianna Zimmerman.
I decided to replicate my inspiration quilt and included the initials of my son embroidered in bright golden thread. The Rainbow pattern looked rather simple but I quickly found the “non-block” construction very difficult to master and the fancy embroidery required much practice. After many tries, I was able to obtain a flat quilt with a rainbow across the sky and fancy embroidered initials.
Since this small group of women made Rainbow quilts for many of their children, the search for additional quilts continues by family members. Fortunately, four are now in the collection of the IQM for all of us to enjoy.