By: Xenia E. Cord
Statewide quilt studies have identified regional trends in quilt construction, but related borders have only rarely been examined. This study looks at eighty-five mid-nineteenth-century quilts with a variety of centerfields that share a common border design, the “vessel, vine, and floral border.” The frequency of collected examples with Ohio origins strongly suggests that Ohio was a source region where the design may have originated and where it proliferated. Designs were shared among quiltmakers through social, communal, and religious gatherings, through private communications, and through direct sharing from person to person. The spread of the design was also encouraged by Ohio’s robust economy at mid-century, the growth of convenient transportation, and the establishment of a network of county and state agricultural fairs. An analysis of shared features among quilts with the vessel, vine, and floral border design as well as case studies of three specific quilts suggest that use of the border design was influenced both by private participation in quiltmaking activities and by public display.