A few months ago I was contacted by the person who bought my “War Eagle” quilt. She wanted me to take part in a project she is putting together which will feature an “eagle” quilt representing each decade. The decade I get is 1790-1800.
Before agreeing, I pulled out a couple of my quilt books to be sure I knew what quilts looked like during that time frame. I wanted to be sure I could deliver a quilt that looked like it came from 1790.
In Barbara Brackman’s Clues in the Calico (p 14-15)
In the mid-eighteenth century, ……Like the bed quilts, petticoats were of whole cloth, often of silk or glazed wool, quilted with designs such as feathers and flowers.
In Roderick Kiracofe’s The American Quilt --- 1750-1825 Preindustrial America chapter (p 46-48)
Many quilts from this period …. Those quilts tend to be of the “whole-cloth” style, made from a length of fabric that had not been pieced into a design, or of the broderie perse style, which involved the appliquéing of chintz motifs onto a base fabric.
So Sue and I decided it should be a whole cloth quilt. I purchased some white glazed cotton which I found on-line.
I then needed to design the quilting design with an eagle playing a prominent part of the design. What did eagles look like in quilting in 1790? None of my quilting books turned out to be of much help. Quilts with eagles in my books weren’t old enough.
My husband, however, had a perfect book: The Eagle on U.S. Firearms by John W. Jordan. Turns out the eagles during this time frame had downturned wings and a “turkey” neck.
I got lucky in my search. The Book of Patterns and Instructions for American Needlework had a beautiful example of such an eagle in a counterpane from the Henry Ford Museum. The pattern included was meant for embroidery, but I knew I could make it work as a quilting design. All I needed to do was redesign the wings so they went down and turn the oval into a circle.
So now the quilt is designed, I have begun hand quilting it. I am not a fast hand quilter, so it will be a while before I have the finished quilt to show you. I am happy with the design.