quilting

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Image features: Patches embroidered with flowers and 'japonaise' patterns all in the same grey/blue thread on muslin foundation. The date 1900 is embroidered in the center and there is a repeating border around the edges. The outline the embroidery patterns is visible under the motifs. Backed with white cotton, quilted in straight lines. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
An Elaborate, Stylized Presentation
Donated to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum by New York-based textile dealer Elinor Merrell, this bedcover offers an opportunity to see how motifs employed in America were influenced by distant cultures. In the hands of a highly skilled needle-worker deft at using stem-stitch, satin-stitch, and button-hole stitch techniques, a rare coverlet was created. This block-style...
Image features patchwork medallion with a star pattern in unbleached cotton and three roller-printed cottons in browns, tans and pinks. Handwritten in dark brown ink in the center circle: "Olivia C. Whitridge, New Bedford, 1853." Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
A Lasting Remnant of a Friendship
Olivia Cushing Whitridge (1783-1876) was born to a prominent New England family with ties to Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine. She married William Whitridge, and the couple lived in New Bedford, Massachusetts. It was in New Bedford, a whaling town, that Olivia C. Whitridge created this “Mariner’s Compass” patchwork medallion. The Mariner’s Compass pattern “was...
Image features fragment of a quilt top in "Tumbling Blocks" pattern, made from small diamond shapes stitched together to create the illusion of cubes. The woven pieces are in silk stripes, plaids and a few small floral patterns. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Tumbling Blocks
“Tumbling Blocks” is one of the most recognizable quilt patterns. As popular today as it was from the mid to late 1800s, it is a requisite pattern for any quilt collection. The roots of the pattern date back far longer than its use for American quilts. Tumbling Blocks has a long history in the grammar...
Image features: Small pieces of printed cotton in various colors patched to form a star medallion with scalloped outer edge. Each medallion set in white cotton about eighteen inches square. Twenty-five squares, each five by five inches, joined in a grid of strips of printed cotton, predominantly green. The center of each medallion plain white and several have handwritten inscriptions: "Our mother / The First to Cherish / The last to desert us. / Wm D. Jones / Frances L. Jones / May 11, 1845." "Made by Our Mother / Lucy Jones/ for / I.S. and M.P. Jones / 1845 / in her 64th year." "Our Parents / May the Evening of their / lives be as the morning sun / I.P. and M.E. Jones." Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
Mariner’s Compass
A very special family quilt in the Mariner’s Compass pattern was given to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum by Susan Weitzman in 1972. Thanks to thoughtful, easy to read, handwritten inscriptions found on three of the twenty-five squares that make up the quilt, we know that Lacy Jones made the quilt in 1845, and that...
Image features: Patchwork quilt with a stepped squared diamond pattern in ivory, red and green. The ivory fabric forming the stepped diamond is plain. The red and green fabrics forming the lattice and borders are patterned by tiny flowers. The back is red with green edge. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this object.
All in the Family
For centuries, quilt patterns and quilting techniques have been passed down from generation to generation and within generations, from sister-to-sister, cousin-to-cousin, or friend-to-friend. Without formal training, many quilters relied on their more experienced relatives to teach them the best methods. The museum is fortunate to have two quilts from the same family, the Reeds of...
On a Wild Goose Chase
Author: Jeffery McCullough One of the most challenging aspects of researching quilts is that, for many of them, there is no identifying information about the maker. Fortunately, this quilt top has a handwritten label stitched to it, which states “Made by Martha Brownlee born 1 Nov. 1801 Mother of Mary Brownlee Meloy.” Martha Brownlee was...
For a Child in the Adult Style
Author: Jeffery McCullough Many surviving nineteenth-century crib quilts are evidence that it was more common to make a child-size quilt in colors and patterns that were popular for adult-size bed quilts, rather than in specific “baby” colors. An 1840-1860 crib quilt in the collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum represents common coloration and a...
Made by Hand: Alabama Chanin
  The evening of May 19th capped off a three-day residency at the Cooper-Hewitt for Natalie Chanin, founder and designer of the design studio Alabama Chanin. Chanin, one of the founders of the burgeoning “slow fashion” movement, followed up her two-day Design Directions workshop for teenagers with an hour-long public lecture and book signing. “Lecture”...