April 11, 2012

Another Quaker Beauty at the American Museum in Britain

Silk is always elegant but sometimes its beauty is expressed in a masterpiece of subtle tones expertly pieced together to produce a striking whole.  This is certainly the case of a Square-in-Square quilt in the collection of the American Museum in Britain (AMIB) located in Claverton Manor in the countryside just outside of Bath.

Square-in-Square Quilt made ca. 1835-1850 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
Photograph produced courtesy of the American Museum in Britain.

This lovely quilt measures 96" X 84" and is comprised of 42 Square-in-Square blocks pieced using shades of brown, fawn, gold, and blue and connected by a delicate, striped silk sashing.  The blocks are quilted with cross-hatching and straight parallel lines while the sashing is quilted with a simple leaf design.

Close-up views of Square-in-Square Quilt blocks and quilting patterns.  Note
that some of the silks bear patterns of delicate design.  Photographs produced
courtesy of the American Museum in Britain.

Like the Tumbling Block Star Quilt shown in our posting of March 23, 2012, this Square-in-Square quilt also has a backing of blue-glazed cotton.

Back of the Square-in-Square Quilt.  Photograph produced courtesy of the
American Museum in Britain.

The Square-in-Square quilt belonged to the Yarnall family of Philadelphia.  The Yarnalls were a prominent Quaker family who, like other eminent families of the time, were financially able to employ a seamstress to come to their home and make the family's new clothing each year.  It's believed that the Square-in-Square quilt was made by such a sewing woman using the scraps left over from making clothes for the family.  Because of the amount of fabric used, it is also believed that the striped silk for the sashing, as well as the backing fabric, were purchased specifically to complete the quilt.


Beresford, Laura and Katherine Hebert.  Classic Quilts from the American Museum in Britain.  London: Scala Publishers Ltd., 2009.

(c) Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare 2012

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