Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Fascinating Vintage Quilt Top

Today I want to talk in detail about a vintage quilt top that was given to me so if you're not into old quilts, you may want to skip the rest of this post.   This quilt has me very curious and I am hoping I can recruit some of you quilters that have been quilting for years and years to help me date it and name the pattern.  It is NOT Bow Ties.

Here is a picture of the entire quilt:

My mother-in-law thinks it might have been made by my husbands great grandmother.  So possibly from the 1940's? or thereabouts?   It was made using a pattern I have never seen and many people keep telling me it is a Bow Tie quilt but it is not.  Each colored section is one entire whole piece.  Has anyone else seen a quilt made with this pattern before?  Do you know what it is called?  I have asked quite a few people and nobody knows.  I would also like to date it if possible.  I have taken a picture of each fabric in the quilt.  You can see them here.  There are 25 different fabrics.  If you have any of these in your stash, I am looking to buy!  (or even similar fabrics from this era).

This quilt is entirely hand pieced.  If you take a look at the last two rows, you begin to see fabrics that do not appear anywhere else in the quilt.  I think she was running out of scraps!  Also, look at the fabrics that are 3rd from the left on the bottom row and on the far left on the 2nd bottom row  She didn't have a big enough piece for either one of these pieces and pieced them together.

I am planning on quilting this following the wavy curves and stitch in the ditch like this:

What should I use for the binding?

Update:  I have spoken with a professional quilt appraiser via e-mail and when the weather calms down am considering driving this a few hours to get it appraised.  But what she did tell me was every interesting.   She said that this quilt marker had what appraisers would call a "deep scrap bag" which means it spanned several decades, the most recent being from the 1940's.   So some of these fabrics may possibly be as old as the 1920's.   Fun!  I also neglected to show you what the back looks like and a closeup of the hand stitching.  Such tiny stitches!

This quilt is not using the traditional make a block and sew them together method, the appraiser I spoke with said she possibly used some sort of applique method. Interesting!

UPDATE #2!   Wanda from Exuberant Color found a pattern that is the closest I've seen yet.  It's rows are offset from one another instead of side by side like my quilt but very, close!  She found it in Barbara Brackman's book Encylopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

Thanks for reading about my journey with this vintage quilt and a reminder, I am hoping to finish this quilt with fabrics from this era so if you have anything from the 1920's through 1950's that would go well with this quilt, please feel free to contact me!  Just leave a comment on this post and I'll get back with you.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Linking to:
Let's Bee Social
WIP's on Wednesday
Midweek Makers
Needle & Thread Thursday


  1. I looked this up in Barbara Brackman's book and found what looks somewhat like it under Fans. It has two entries that are similar. Drunkard's Trail is the name listed on each of the two. The difference is that these designs have an additional arc on both sides but you can see how similar it is to this quilt. Perhaps the maker didn't want to do the extra work and just went with the main piece. I'll email you privately to show the pics of the blocks that are similar. If you have this book look at 3350 and 3351. Close but not exactly the same. I would pick a color that is repeated in the quilt. If you can find a good match for the yellow that would work wonderfully. Or pick up a color in the quilt itself.

  2. Use a plaid for the binding! See if you can get some vintage stuff too. For some reason, pickle dish pops in my head but it doesn't have all the pickles lol. No it isn't that; maybe it is an original design. I would therefore hesitate to quilt it until you talk to a professional quilt appraiser perhaps? When you repair or quilt a vintage quilt, it loses its date and takes on the date of the latest work... It is truly wonderful.

  3. This is a great quilt. I agree with Sandra above -- have it checked out before you do anything.

  4. I don't know very much at all about antique quilts, but it's really cool that you have a piece of your husband's history here. I do know that there are people who specialize in dating quilts, so maybe you might find one of them to help you. If that was a popular pattern in the 40s, they would surely know? It's a neat shape!

    I agree with Sandra that a plaid binding would be great! Otherwise, I would bind in the royal blue that shows up in the piece fifth from the right on the bottom row. It would really pop against the yellow border.

    I have an antique quilt story to tell on my blog, and I really need to get that written up soon. I'm feeling lazy about blogging these days. Some people lose their sewjo, I guess I've lost my blogjo for now :)

  5. Wow, this is neat! Sorry i cant help you out. I think you could use about any color for binding and itd look great but i think red would really pop. :)

  6. it has an apple core look with angles at the top? very fun old quilt

  7. Very fun quilt. I was going to say an Apple core variation too. And the prints do look like 1940's. It is fantastic!

  8. That is one spectacular quilt! Lots of credit to the piecer on a job well done, and I'm sure whatever quilting you do will look fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing it on Midweek Makers

  9. I have seen Crazy Mom Quilts use a gray and white striped binding and that seems to go with everything.

  10. What a great quilt, I really love all that yellow! And the binding? well, maybe a plaid? maybe a red? But I look forward to seeing what you decide on.

  11. Cool quilt! The vintage fabrics are really fun, I love the idea of purchasing vintage fabric to finish it.

  12. No idea on the pattern. But it's a gorgeous quilt.

  13. Several of those fabrics look familiar as I have a collection of vintage fabric and feedsacks. It is a fun vintage quilt!

  14. I'm here because my friend, Wanda, posted a link on her blog of your quest. :) I collect old, interesting quilt tops (with hopes/thoughts of someday making them into quilts). My guess is 20's-40's era fabrics is correct...I did note some 30's feedsack fabrics as well as some rayon prints (at least that is what they look like to me). Something to note is folks did make quilts from old garments when they were no longer being used. Seams from the garment are seen in quilts, it's not only because of lack of a large enough piece in the scrap bag. I have not seen, in my travels, that particular motif in a quilt top. Unusual! I'm guessing it is some form of a bowtie. There are vintage fabrics still out there, I buy pieces when I find something that pulls at my heartstrings (many feedsacks do that). Antique shops, flea markets those are where I normally find this type of thing. In my mind (personal thoughts), if you can find a fabric that is similar and are not totally driven by intrinsic historical value, go with it! Why not get it made into something that is usable and beautiful...that you can tell the story of? Better than folded in a closet, waiting for the exact fabric to be found. Just my opinion...

    1. Forgot to add...have FUN in your quest. I'm guessing you are inspired by all that has been discovered already!

  15. I a another one who enjoys finishing and conserving old quilt tops. Your idea to quilt in the ditch would probably work out but you might want to consider quilting on the 1/4 inch. This may have been a more common way to quilt this design - it would enhance the wavy appearance of the oval shapes and give the quilt a little more stability. The small stitching is great and will help hold the pieces together for the long term. I just finished repairing a wedding ring quilt for my sister-in-law that had been hand pieced with 1/4 inch stitches and machine washed too often - much of the thread had broken and the only thing holding some of it together was the quilting.

  16. I am so pleased that your quilt was highlighted on the Wednesday linkup! It is an intriguing block--you could just named it after the maker. The fabrics and the workmanship are wonderful. As for the binding--I think that a solid would be authentic but that a vintage print akin to the fabric in the blocks would be more fun. Have you chosen the backing yet?

  17. Obviously I have come to this post late but what a great read and lovely to hear that you have found out more about it. I have lots of vintage fabric but none that match your patches sadly.

  18. This looks like the same pattern as your vintage top.


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