By: Teri Klassen
This study of a rare southern Indiana quilt pattern that dates to the Mexican War (1846-1848) gives insight into how quiltmaking acquired its longstanding associations with patriotism and with the refined yet industrious American homemaker ideal. Analysis of the five known occurrences of this pattern, Polk’s Fancy, shows how English, Scotch-Irish, and German influences contributed to development of a distinctive American quilt style. This study examines women’s use of needlework as a means of participating in the Mexican War and their use of commemorative quiltmaking as a way to present themselves publicly as citizens. General quilt historical issues addressed here include the use of the color teal in red, green, and white floral quilts, emergence of the Rising Sun and Lone Star pattern names, the role of fairs in pattern dissemination, early use of sewing machines, early advertisements for quiltmaking supplies, and relations between quilt and coverlet designs.