By: Virginia Gunn
This research project explores relationships between ornamental needlework and quiltmaking by tracing the evolution of the 1930’s calico print yo-yo or bed of roses “quilts”. Analysis of data from women’s periodicals, photographs, artifacts indicates that the yo-yo technique, a form of fabric lace, had early 19th century roots. Women manipulated white cotton calico and commercial braids and tapes, widely available after the Industrial Revolution, to form fabric laces for decorative household textiles or for trim on clothing. By the 1860’s bed-size fancywork projects in this technique were being called quilts, a more inclusive term then now. In 1885 and 1888 Peterson’s Magazine gave explicit directions for this ornamental work, said to resemble roses and later marguerites or daisies. During the romantic colonial revival of the 20th century, the technique was reintroduced as a “colonial heirloom” pattern, and enjoyed popularity under the name of yo-yo, puff, or bed of roses.