Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hexagon Mosaic, 1830

I still have more of the quilt collection from New Paltz to share --- and believe me, we have not even begun to get to the best ones!

This hexagon just HAD to come out of the box ---the fabrics in it are DELICIOUS ---and it was also not a “PERFECTIONIST” quilt…..while the patchwork is very precise, the maker made choices with her fabric placements that add motion and delight for the eye.

The quilt also has an interesting finish – it’s bound not with fabric, but with a woven tape. Early quilts often had “other” elements used as binding, as in the fringe found in the JBV quilt that I posted the other day.

Some thought that the fringe must be a later addition, but in fact, it is keeping to the time period that the quilt was made. Coverlets and quilts often had fringe as a finish ---as well as the canopies for the ever popular 4 poster beds….so the woven tape on the edge of this hexagon beauty is right where it should be as a perfectly acceptable way to finish a quilt in that time period.

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It wasn’t a very large quilt ---but it took my breath away. Look at that floral border….and the corners are precisely mitered.

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There are a few different brown prints used for the path around the flower motifs, and yet they are not symmetrical, the way we would force ourselves to do it today. All that mattered to her, evidently, was that it was BROWN and she had enough of whichever brown to do the job.

She didn’t even scramble them the way we would force ourselves to do….”can’t have the same one touching the same one”, you know? There is no rhyme or reason to the way her brown chains flow. And you know what? I’M GLAD!! If this were perfect, with only ONE BROWN throughout the pathway --- would this be as fun to look at? I don’t think so…I think the perfection would suck the life and interest right out of the quilt.

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Sorry for the blurriness of this photo – those dang white gloves! Next time I’ll only glove my left hand and leave my right hand free to shoot better photos! What I wanted to show here was how the half flowers have only 4 petals and the background ends with the half diamonds to give the center a straight edge before adding the border.

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There was SOME perfection going on here…look at the placement of the stripes in that corner block unit!! She MATCHED the stripes!

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Bottom left corner. Check the mitered seam, and the tape used as binding ---

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I’m happy that the quilting detail showed up in this one. Do you see the fussy-cut center in that flower?! This quilt was not so heavily quilted, but she did impose a hexagon on each round…can you see it there in the brown flower? And then it echoes into the muslin, and finally into the brown path. This gave the quilt a very soft feel, and the quilting crossing those seam lines helps anchor them. The stitches were beautifully even and fine.

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And yet --- there IS some “frugal piecing” going on….that center hex has a seam in it – making good use of precious scraps! If the piece isn’t big enough, add to it until it is!

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And there is my white gloved hand….just to show you the size of the hexes. They are about 1” per side. From the stitching it appears to be English paper pieced ---the joining stitches are tiny, almost invisible, but very closely placed whip stitches vs a traditional hand piecing running stitch.

It makes me SO WISH that I could have seen what papers she pieced on! Old letters and correspondence? Handbills and other scrap paper? I remember seeing one in the Charleston SC museum that was pieced upon discarded sheet music. Maybe that maker really HATED that song, and rid it from the repertoire by cutting it into hexes for her piecing! Oh – I wish I knew the unknown stories!

I’m still floating on air that I got to examine, handle, and dream upon these quilts. The makers have long since passed on, but they left this legacy ---I hope they were smiling and felt the kindred spirit of those of us who just KNOW each other ---by needle and thread and the love of fabric.



  2. Stunning! (and those are my colors :-D )

  3. Oh you would have such a fun time showing antique quilts for a living.
    I'd love to see the Smithsonian's collection....it would probably take a month!

    Happy Sewing

  4. É o máximo,eu amo hexágonos .Quando você mostra com dedo e diz que é 1,polegada que está falando?Eu estou fazendo uma de 1cm de lado,e serão de borboletas.Essa colcha que não ¨respeita¨o tecido marrom as vezes eu tenho que fazer isso também,imagino que naquela época a falta de tecido levava a ser feito assim.Hoje quando começo uma peça a primeira coisa é reservar todo o tecido do entorno,pois as flores ou o que for,pode ter minúsculas variações.Obrigada sempre por todas informações e preciosidades que você compartilha com o mundo.DEUS te abençoe.beijos.

  5. Beautiful. I agree the varied chain of brown through the quilt really "makes" it. Thanks for posting this Bonnie.

  6. It's nice to see that a hexagon quilt doesn't have to be ALL hexagons. I love the border fabric!!

  7. WONDERFUL!! So many things to love about this quilt. Your pictures show so much detail. Thanks so much!!

  8. What a beautiful quilt! I love the border fabric and I especially like how she pointed the flowers up on the top and bottom borders and to the left on both sides. We/I would force ourselves/myself to point them all either toward the center or toward the outside - "gotta be symmetrical" don't ya know - ;))

  9. Wow!!!How did they do it w/out all our modern tools.

  10. Thank you for showing it to us, through your eyes, and explainations, the seam on the center flower, the way the quilting is hexagon too. I might not have noticed those little details, or the historical implications of the fringe, tape that was used to bind them. You have an amazing knowlede.

  11. stunning!! you totally have eyes for details

  12. I am sooo inspired by this! I've just begun working with hexies, paper-piecing. I have loved Grandmother's Flower Garden for as long as I can remember. Finally, in retirement years, learning how it is done. Love you for sharing this!

  13. Oh how I love this quilt! Thanks so much for sharing it! And not just one little photo...but lots to show off the details! Wonderful!

  14. Anonymous12:15 AM EDT

    Thanks for sharing this one! Love the colors - how they have held up is beyond me. I love doing hexagons too. I'll show you my next project when I finish it. Barby MH, AR

  15. Thanks for continuing to share pictures of the New Paltz quilts. Think I am in love with hexagons after seeing the Hexagon Mosaic. Not a brown girl, but this beauty may change my mind. So beautiful, so mellow.

  16. I just found this-I am in love! and have the 1800s reproduction fabrics that will be perfect for this-I also already have a border fabric that will work-thank you


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