Whimsical Flowers and Baskets

Whimsical Flowers and Baskets

My inspiration is a well-loved red and green appliqué quilt circa 1860 that I purchased on eBay. The graceful designs and wonderful quilting indicate that the quilt was the pride and joy of the quiltmaker and her family. Because of the evenness of the stitching and the intricacy of the work, I surmise that one very skilled seamstress made the quilt. There was no provenance with the quilt, however I recently purchased another quilt with an identical border that is from Ohio.

The quilt has nine blocks, four with baskets, four with floral bouquets, and a center wreath block. Vining baskets form the borders. Wonderfully corded and stuffed feathers surround each square. Corded and stuffed grape clusters and floral designs are in the borders. Straight-line stipple quilting fills in around the trapunto work. The appliqué is stitched down with tiny buttonhole stitches. The quilting does not go through the appliquéd fabrics, as would be usual for this period. Perhaps, because of all the stuffed work, the maker wanted her appliqué to also show dimension, i.e. “pop”, although none of it is stuffed.

I was struck by the unusual baskets, leaves, and flowers. A search of Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Appliqué did not identify the patterns. The flowers in the center bouquets look most like a coxcomb design, while those in the center baskets are unidentifiable. The border flowers resemble patterns from album quilts circa 1850. Different and unusual baskets or pots are in the center design and border.

My own rendition pays homage to the originality of the quiltmaker, following her general design layout and using her graceful, whimsical appliqué patterns. A hidden appliqué stitch secures the fabrics rather than the buttonhole stitch. Stuffed work pays tribute to the needlework skills of the original maker. I only wish my own sewing skills could match hers!