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Quilts 19th through 20th Centuries The year is 1830 It is a cold winter night and you are tired and have just snuggled down into your bed with several quilts piled up ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Quilts

  • 19th through 20th Centuries



The year is 1830
  • It is a cold winter night and you are tired and
    have just snuggled down into your bed with
    several quilts piled up on top of you.
  • If you are a boy, you have been up before the sun
    and have spent most of the day performing heavy
    manual work that includes chopping wood for the
    cook stove and fireplace to keep you warm and
  • You have not had any idle time.

  • If you are a girl, you have also started working
    before the sun came up tending to animals,
    cooking, washing, cleaning and taking care of
    younger siblings.
  • Those quilts you are sleeping under are all
    lovingly handmade and are more that utilitarian
    blankets that are keeping you warm.

Believe it or not.
  • They are works of art.

  • Quilts and other cloth-based narrative art are
    part of many cultures. Made by hand -- often
    collaboratively -- using familiar materials such
    as scraps of clothing, quilts are both personal
    and communal objects.
  • Quilting continues to be largely a home-based
    form of women's artistic expression.

  • Quilts can be works of art as well as tell
    stories through pictures.
  • They also tell a story about their creators and
    about the historical and cultural context of
    their creation (quilting bees, historical and
    personal events) through the choices made in
    design, material, and content.


  • In 1842, John Logan of McDowell County, North
    Carolina put Hannah, a twelve year old slave
    girl, behind his daughter, Margaret, on her
  • He then put Pharoah, a twelve year old slave boy,
    behind his new son-in-law, Thomas Young Greenlee,
    on his horse.

  • John said, "These are your wedding gifts."
  • Hannah became a house servant and Pharoah became
    a blacksmith.
  • They later married and took their new owners

  • During the days of the War between the States,
    the Underground Railroad was active through the
    very heart of McDowell County.
  • Hannah pieced this quilt during those harrowing
    days, stitching into the pieces African symbols
    which served as messages and directions to
    would-be travelers on the 'railroad".


  • Some of the symbols are recognized as characters
    of the Vai Syllabary, an African alphabet.

  • Hannah pieced the quilt by hand using scrap
    materials of homespun cotton and wool, with some
    silk and velvet scraps interspersed.

  • The quilt lining was left unfinished until Emma
    "Em" Greenlee, Hannah's daughter, completed it in

  • We know little about them beyond this, except
    that the masterful quilt reproduced here was
    begun by Hannah Greenlee, perhaps in the 1880s,
    and finished by her daughter Emm in 1896,
    sometime after Hannahs death.


  • Hannah Greenlees quilt is made of irregular
    scraps of fabricsome of them homespunthat are
    stitched together in the Crazy pattern developed
    in Victorian England and popular in America in
    the second half of the nineteenth century.

  • As a freedwoman after the war, Hannah probably
    continued the type of work she performed as a
    house servant
  • cooking, cleaning, and sewing.

  • She may have intended to sell or give the quilt
    to her previous owners, since it remained with
    that family until they donated it to North
    Carolinas Historic Carson House.

  • The quilt has been recognized in numerous
    publications including
  • The North Carolina Quilt Project,
  • The Maryland Sun News Artistry Knew No Bondage,
  • Janice Cole Gibson's Carson House Quilts in
    Quilt World,
  • Stitched From the Soul Slave Quilts of the
    Antebellum South.

  • A unique and beautiful appliquéd quilt of silk
    chintz imported from France was carefully sewn in
    1810 by Kadella, the Carson family slave who
    became the seamstress for the family.


  • The slave of Colonel John Carson, Kadella, made
    the quilt as a celebration of his marriage.
  • She created the quilt according to traditional
    European appliqué standards of displaying ornate
    French lace in intricate patterns.

  • However, she also included African tradition in
    her quilt by cross-stitching long, vertical,
    strip-like lines onto the quilt.


  • Legend has it that Kadella was the daughter of an
    African Chieftain, and thus a princess in her
  • She was taken to Barbados by slave traders, where
    she was purchased by Col. John Carson and brought
    to his plantation in McDowell County.
  • Kadella was quite beautiful, and because she was
    considered royalty in her home country, the other
    slaves on the Carson plantation revered her.

  • When it was necessary for her to travel from the
    slave quarters to the big house, her fellow
    slaves carried her about on a palanquin.
  • She became a favorite of the Carsons and it was
    soon learned that she was quite accomplished at

  • She was given a special little house built
    especially for her across the river from the
    other slave quarters near the Carson family home
    and lived her life with the Carsons, making all
    the quilts and clothing for the family.
  • She was kept away from difficult labor and
    allowed to sew and knit.

  • Kadella was well respected and loved not only by
    her master but by fellow slaves as well.
  • Although never found, Kadella is said also to
    have produced one African strip-style quilt for
    each of her sons who were sent away because of
    their shameful likeness to their master John

  • Another special quilt, stitched in small pieces
    called a crazy quilt pattern was made by the
    mother of a Methodist minister who traveled to
    Oklahoma with the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears.
  • It is said that this quilt comforted many Native
    Americans on this infamous journey.

Jane and Rebecca Bond

  • Slave woman Jane Bond is braiding the hair of her
    mistress Rebecca. Although most likely they posed
    for the photograph, both women took pride in
    making dresses for one another and braiding one
    another's hair.
  • Jane Bond was born a slave in Kentucky, 1828. She
    was originally the property of Edward Fletcher
    Arthur. He gave her to his daughter Belinda as a
    wedding present in 1848.

  • The two women did not however get along very well
    and after the birth of the second son between
    Jane and Belinda's preacher husband Preston, Jane
    was sent back to her original owner.
  • Jane was then given to Preston's sister Rebecca.
  • The two formed a very close friendship and shared
    much of their lives, including quilting. The two
    quilts below are two of the remaining quilts from
    over twenty that they made together for their

  • Although both are traditional European strict
    patterns, they are made with bright contrasting
    colors and even the strict patterns are deviated
    from as seen in four of the squares in the quilt
    on the right.

Story Quilts
  • Story quilts often reflect the personal life of
    the one who created them.  Harriet Powers was
    born into slavery in 1837 and married at the age
    of eighteen. 
  • We do not know what her childhood was like since
    it was not recorded however, she recorded some
    of her life as an African American slave woman in
    a story quilt. 
  • Harriet Powers also quilted Bible stories one
    is a priceless museum piece that resides at the
    Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

  • Harriet Powers created two quilts which are the
    best known and well preserved examples of
    Southern American quilting tradition still in
  • Using the traditional African appliqué technique
    along with European record keeping and biblical
    reference traditions, Harriet records on her
    quilts local historical legend, Bible stories,
    and astronomical phenomena.

Harriet Powers Story Quilt

  • Her quilts were first seen at a crafts fair by an
    artist, a Southern white woman named Jennie
  • Ms. Smith, who kept a diary and upon first
    meeting Harriet, recalls -- "I found the owner, a
    negro woman, who lived in the country on a little
    farm whereon she and her husband made a
    respectable living.
  • She is about sixty five years old, of a clear
    ginger cake color, and is a very clean and
    interesting woman who loves to talk of her 'old
    miss' and life 'befo de wah.'

  • At first Harriet Powers was unwilling to sell her
    quilts to Ms. Smith.
  • Yet when she and her family came into financial
    difficulty she agreed to sell them.

  • Ms Smith writes -- " Last year I sent her word
    that I would buy it if she still wanted to
    dispose of it. She arrived one afternoon in front
    of my door in an ox-cart with the precious burden
    in her lap encased in a clean flour sack, which
    was still enveloped in a crocus sack. She offered
    it for ten dollars, but I told her I only had
    five to give.

  • After going out consulting with her husband she
    returned and said 'Owin to de hardness of de
    times, my ole man lows I'd better tech hit.' Not
    being a new woman she obeyed. After giving me a
    full description of each scene with great
    earnestness, she departed but has been back
    several times to visit the darling offspring of
    her brain.

  • She was only in measure consoled for its loss
    when I promised to save her all my scraps."
    Although it was certainly painful for Mrs. Powers
    to sell her quilts, doing so she thus,
    unknowingly, preserved them for future


Harriet Powers
  • The photograph, made about 1897, depicts her
    wearing a special apron with images of a moon,
    cross, and sun or shooting star. Celestial bodies
    such as these appear repeatedly in her quilts,
    indicating their importance to her.

Harriet Powers Bible Quilt

  • This quilt looks very different from quilts made
    in the colonial period, when such items were
    confined to homes of the wealthy, where women had
    leisure time to devote to complicated needlework.

  • In colonial whole-cloth quilts, for example, the
    top was one single piece whose only decoration
    was the pattern of the stitching itself.


  • In another type, printed images of flowers and
    other motifs were cut out of expensive imported
    fabrics and sewn (appliquéd) to the top as

Hasbrouck family vignette Ulster County, NY.
Mid-19th century.


  • Many early Crazy quilts were made of luxury
    materials like silk, velvet, and satin.
  • The random pattern is a flexible and thrifty way
    to construct a quilt, permitting small scraps of
    any size or shape to be used.


Crazy c. 1884-1890

  • The design can be worked in an overall pattern
    oras in Greenlees quiltin separate squares
    that are then combined in a grid.

  • Because the grid adds a degree of order to the
    chaos, this type is known as a Contained Crazy.


  • In each square of her quilt, numerous small
    strips are joined into ladders that lean this way
    and that.

  • These stacked, colored bands resemble a type of
    traditional textile made in Ghana and the Ivory
    Coast called kente, in which bars of color and
    pattern are woven in thin strips that are then
    joined side to side to make wider cloth.

  • Many scholars believe that elements of this
    African tradition, especially its aesthetic
    preference for asymmetry, inventiveness, and
    irregular blocks of bright color, live on in many
    African American quilts.

  • Each square of Greenlees quilt is a separate
    abstract composition that is constantly changing
    depending on the direction from which it is

Fancy stitching
  • Sometimes following the outlines of the piecing,
    sometimes independent of themcreates another
    level of patterning as do the designs within the
    separate scraps of cloth.

  • As in most quilts, the top layer is attached to
    two more beneath with stitching (quilting) that
    goes through all three.

  • The bottom layer, called the liner, can be plain
    or decorated to make the quilt reversible.

  • Sandwiched between the top and liner is the layer
    of insulation, called filling or batting, that
    traps pockets of air to give the quilt its warmth.

  • The invention of the cotton gin in 1793, the
    opening of a textile factory in Waltham,
    Massachusetts, in 1814, and the development of
    the power loom would make domestic printed
    fabrics widely available and affordable.


  • By the 1840s, women were purchasing commercially
    printed fabric to sew rather than weave the
    fabrics themselves.

Unknown pattern, c. 1853, New York

  • Quilt patterns multiplied and were spread by
    family and friends, printed in ladies magazines,
    and ordered through catalogs.

Worsted c. 1820-1840 New Hampshire

  • The introduction of the sewing machine in the
    second half of the nineteenth century made sewing

  • In addition to still-usable parts of old clothes,
    scraps left over from a dress for the first day
    of school or Fathers Sunday shirt were saved to
    make quilts that were rich with personal

  • Susan Noakes McCord was a farmwife who lived in
    McCordsville, Indiana. She raised vegetables,
    chickens, and seven children, and still found
    time between chores to make more than a dozen

  • Many of her creations were based on standard
    quilt patterns that she transformed.

  • This quilt, like Greenlees, is a Contained Crazy
    quilt, but instead of rectangular bars, wedges of
    fabric are joined to form irregular wheels.

(No Transcript)
  • The pattern is based on one called Grandmothers
    Fan, in which each uniform block of the quilt
    contains a fan set in the same corner.

  • McCord varied the size of the fans and set them
    in all four corners of most blocks, aligning them
    to form fractured gears that twirl across the

Nothing is still .
  • Wheels struggle to maintain their symmetry and
    rims wander off to do-si-do with other discs.
    Everywhere there is the nervous tremor of the
    zig-zag stitching.

  • Some of the most accomplished quilting is found
    in Amish examples made in Lancaster County,
    Pennsylvania, from the late-nineteenth to the
    mid-twentieth century.

  • Before the incorporation of synthetic materials
    around 1940, Amish quilts tended to be made of
    fine wool.

  • These quilts were given only a thin layer of
    filler, making delicate needlework possible.
  • Although the stitches on these quilts average
    from nine to eleven per inch, stitches as small
    as eighteen to twenty per inch have been used
    (most quilts average six to eight stitches).

  • The Amish trace their lineal descent from the
    Anabaptist movement, which arose in the early
    1500s as a result of the Protestant Reformation.

  • Anabaptists were pacifists who practiced adult
    baptism exclusively.
  • The largest Anabaptist sect was Mennonite, named
    for founder Menno Simons.
  • In 1693, a group of Mennonites led by Jacob
    Ammann, seeking a stricter observance of their
    religion, broke away to become the Amish.

  • Heavily persecuted, the Amish were drawn to
    America by the religious tolerance promoted by
    William Penn.
  • In the 1730s, they established their first
    sizeable communities in Lancaster County,

  • At the core of Amish life are religion,
    community, and family.
  • The Amish, who live in small communities, value
    conformity to communal rule (the Ordnung), which
    varies according to local custom.

  • Much of the technology developed since the
    Industrial Revolution is avoided.

  • They aspire to a life of non-violence,
    simplicity, and humility
  • Anything considered vain or reminiscent of the
    military (such as buttons or moustaches) is

  • Amish clothing is generally patterned on
    late-nineteenth century rural farm attire.

  • Mens suits are black or dark blue, and simply
  • Womens dress is made in a variety of solid
    colors (generally avoiding bright red, orange,
    yellow, or pink) and usually includes some form
    of head covering.

  • Amish houses are modest, and quilts provide not
    only pattern and bold color but an outlet for
    womens creativity.

  • Amish quilts made in Lancaster County between
    approximately1875 and 1950 are noted for their
    rich, solid colors, symmetrical design, and
    emphasis on a central motif
  • characteristics that give the compositions a
    sense of quiet grandeur.

  • Within a limited number of quilt patterns, the
    color choices allowed by the restrictions of the
    Bishop (the communally elected leader of a
    district), may nevertheless permit a broad range
    of visual effects.

  • The strong color contrast in two of the quilts
    (10-B.3 and 10-B.4) causes the bars to begin to
    quiver as you look at them.



In another, slender bars will appear to shift.
  • The pulsing energy of the star quilt is held in
    check by the wide purple border that just touches
    the tips of its points.


  • Many quilts are enriched with stitches in one or
    more patterns diamond shapes, feathers,
    wreaths, vines, and flowers that add another
    layer of technical and visual complexity.

  • Although earlier quilts like those reproduced
    here are thought to be the result of individual
    efforts among the Lancaster County Amish, in more
    recent times women often have gathered together
    to share their needle working skills in community
    events called quilting bees or frolics.

  • Quilts have proved to be the perfect canvas for
    self expression. They serve as a new way of
    seeing imagining the possibilities contained in
    a bolt of fabric, exploring new definitions for
    what a quilt can be.
  • From the Amish quilts of Lancaster County,
    Pennsylvania with their large fields of color to
    the contemporary work of such artists as Nancy
    Crow and Michael James, quilt makers have
    continually pushed the boundaries of this medium
    as they explore new directions for this American

Nancy Crows Quilt

Log Cabin c.1893 Gertrude Buchner, Maquoketa,

Lily (variation) c. 1855-1870 Waynesboro,

Star of Bethlehem c.1832 Hannah Huxley, Kentucky

c. 1850 New England

Kansas, c. 1920-1940, Louisville, Kentucky

Blocks, c. 1850-1860, New York

Butterflies, c. 1940-1950, Alabama 

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Essay Question 1
  • Why did women make quilts? (at least
  • 2 reasons)

Essay Question 2
  • Why did quilters often sew small bits of fabric
    together rather than using one large piece of

Essay Question 3
  • How could a quilt record a familys history?

Essay Question 4
  • What 19th century developments made it easier for
    American women to make quilts.
  • (There are at lease 5 reasons)
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