Tobacco Leaf

By: Madge Ziegler
Newark, Delaware

I chose this quilt for my Solid Study, because I own the quilt, know the provenance, and love the graphic quality. It was made in the 1930s by Emma A. Breidigam Landis (1872?-1961) from Topton, Pennsylvania (Berks County). She used all solid fabric, which was somewhat unusual for quilts from that time. In researching the pattern, I found nineteenth-century examples that were identified as Tobacco Leaf.

I never thought of Pennsylvania as a tobacco growing state, so it was interesting to learn that Southeastern Pennsylvania was and still is an important supplier of tobacco. Currently, the types of tobacco grown in that area are desirable around the world and much of it is exported to Europe. Despite how one feels about the use of tobacco, it now makes sense to me that a Tobacco Leaf quilt block would have been popular in that area for many years.

I reduced the designs by 25%, used four of the Tobacco Leaf blocks with the surrounding stars and copied the quilting patterns. I scanned the blocks and stars, then reduced and printed the designs. I quickly learned that reducing the size of an intricate appliqué block multiplies the difficulty level.

Emma hand appliquéd, reverse appliquéd, and hand quilted her quilt. Her border quilting designs do not turn the corners, the wide binding has square corners, and some quilting is placed just inside the edge of the appliqué. Before undertaking this study, I would have done many things differently, but I wanted to learn from Emma’s decisions and techniques. I will use some of her techniques in future quilts.

Recreating one of her quilts allowed me to better know her as a quiltmaker from Pennsylvania who lived in the 1930s.