Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sarah Morrell Quilt

I have been wanting to order the pattern for the Sarah Morrell Quilt, among other things, from Threadbear in Australia for over a year now. They have a great selection of Di Ford reproduction patterns. In researching the quilt, I found that it was pictured in the book Glorious American Quilts, which is a guide to quilts in the Museum of American Folk Art in New York. Here are pictures of the original from the book, and Threadbear's picture of Di Ford's quilt.

I ordered the book, and it came today, so I sat down and started reading. Halfway through the Foreword, written by Gerard Wirtkin, I got my laugh for the day. He quotes Jeremiah Hacker, writing for the Portland Pleasure Boat, a Quaker journal, in 1849, who railed against the practice of state and county fairs awarding prizes for ornamental quilts. "He was particularly incensed by a prize-winning quilt consisting of 9,800 pieces of silk, which he called a "splendid folly"; the practice of quiltmaking itself he dismissed as a "sinful waste of time." "If the State or County Fairs are to offer premiums to those who will thus trifle away whole months of a short life when the time might be so much more usefully and profitably spent, they will prove a great injury to the country instead of benefit." He also regretted that "any man could be found in the whole country willing to encourage such a waste of time." Unfortunately, the journal folded in 1862, so we were spared Hacker's further musings on the subject.

The Sarah Morrell Album Quilt is the oldest sampler album quilt in the Museum's collection. It contains blocks dated 1842 and 1843, and is signed by 58 people who lived in the Delaware River area, in Pennsylvania or Delaware. The signatures are in ink or embroidery, and some are embellished with a stamp. Sarah Morrell's name is in the center block, and she may have made the quilt. Several of the surnames on the quilt have ties to the Pennsylvania-New Jersey Quaker community, although at least two names are associated with other churchs.

I took Nancy Kirk's Quilt Restoration Workshops a couple of years ago, and purchased my own "splendid folly" to practice restoring. Although it falls short of 9,800 pieces, it is a Victorian Silk Quilt. You can see some of the fractured pieces in the close-ups, particularly the scarlet silk ones. I bought this from an antique quilt dealer who had it hanging over his bed, and he was happy to hear I would be restoring it. I love the plaid border.

On a more recent note, I am working on this "sinful waste of time." It is the Mistletoe and Holly quilt from Blackbird Design's When the Cold Wind Blows book. Although I have been buying strictly repro fabrics since I started making reproduction dolls, I call Blackbird Designs my guilty pleasure. I love everything they do, and have the material to make several quilts from this book. Here's the finished piece, and mine so far. It would be nice to have this completed in time for Christmas. I am doing it as a BOM from Homestead Hearth. I have done a few BOM's from them, including the Trick or Treat quilt from the same book, and find them to have great fabric choices, as well as being very generous with fabric. You can also catch a peek of my Civil War Tribute BOM in the top right corner, which I am doing through my local quilt shop, The Attic Window, in Comstock Park, MI. If you are in the area, check them out. They have lots of Spring classes starting.


Hilda said...

So glad to have just discovered your blog! We must have the same taste in quilts - though I am in Australia. I found you by looking for info on the Morrell quilt - which I also love. Wow - don't they look good together - the photos you have of the original and Threadbear's version?! - "follys" though they are! Thanks very much. I am also addicted to Blackbird designs - so far just collecting all the books I can (not easily available in Australia I find). Your work is coming along beautifully :)

quilltr said...

Glad to meet you. I find a lot of Australian patterns I like, but like you, I find them hard to get here in the states. Thank you for your kind words on my Mistletoe quilt. With a little luck I'll have it done by Christmas.

Dawn said...

Great projects! We have two in common Sarah Morrell & Trick or Treat. SM is a 'resting WIP' right now. I have about half the blocks done. My center is birds, more like the original. My little baskets are my airplane project. Looking forward to seeing yours!

gi quilt said...

I am looking at this post due to the Sarah Morrell quilt. I ordered the pattern because I could not resists. From your site I see it is in the "Glorious" book which I also have and have not visited in a while. Thanks for the info. Hope this post finds more of your restoration done. I am currently thing to decide on colors for my Sarah Morrell.