June 1, 2015

Two Lesser Known Rebecca Scattergood Savery Quilts - Part 2

This post concerns the second Rebecca Scattergood Savery quilt belonging to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum (IQSCM) in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Like the quilt featured in our last post, it is part of the Ardis and Robert James Collection.

The Scattergood Family Quilt, a medallion signature quilt made by Rebecca Scattergood
Savery (Object No. 2006.003.0006).  Photograph courtesy of the IQSCM, Lincoln, Nebraska.
 
The quilt measures 105 inches by 115 inches, displays a Sunburst medallion, and is comprised of cotton calicos.  Names are inscribed on the quilt in ink, both by hand and by stamp.  The quilt is dated circa 1845.
 
This quilt has been named the Scattergood Family Quilt to distinguish it from the Scattergood-Savery Quilt we shared with you last time.  Nonetheless, the quilt displays the names of thirteen Scattergood and sixteen Savery family members, the Scattergood names all placed on the hexagons that form the centers of the stars.  Other names are placed in the blocks themselves, including those of members of the Betts and Cadwallader families.
 
Both of the Savery quilts at the IQSCM exhibit some British block-style influences that became prevalent in northeastern American patchwork quilts and coverlets in the early 1820s through 1840s.  The work done by Janice E. Frisch, referenced below, identified some common features these American quilts shared with British quilts of the early nineteenth century.
 
"These features include alternating pieced and unpieced blocks and a tendency to arrange the blocks in an on-point setting rather than a straight setting.  Additionally while the pieced blocks were scrappy, the majority of the unpieced blocks in these quilts are made of the same fabric.  [. . .]  The pieced blocks found in these quilts are also usually all made in just one block pattern.  The most common block designs include nine-patches, four-patches, modified nine-patches  with large center squares, pinwheels, eight-pointed stars made from diamonds and eight-pointed stars with a nine-patch base.  In other words, they use the block elements most commonly found in British quilts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  These early block style pieces generally have only one or no borders and do not utilize sashing between the blocks." (Frisch, 61.)
 
The Scattergood Family Quilt exhibits some, but not all, of the influences mentioned above.  With the exception of the center medallion comprised of diamond shapes on a zigzag base, all of the blocks are of the same star pattern using a variety of fabrics ("scrappy"), alternating mainly with blocks of a single fabric. (The blocks along the top row and in the corners of the bottom row utilize some different fabrics to complete the rows).  The blocks are straight set, rather than set en pointe, and are not separated by sashing. The quilt has only one border.
 
The Scattergood-Savery Quilt (Object No. 1997.007.0118).  Photograph courtesy of
the IQSCM, Lincoln, Nebraska.
 
The Scattergood-Savery Quilt we shared last post has the blocks set en-pointe but they do not alternate with blocks of a single fabric and, instead, are surrounded by sashing.  All of the blocks are of the same pattern comprised of a variety of fabrics.  The quilt has only one border and a single fabric was used along the edges of the quilt to "frame" the central blocks.  Both quilts feature six-pointed (rather than eight-pointed) stars made from modified diamonds.
 
Each of these quilts exhibits some, but not all, of the British influences described by Frisch.  In fact, each quilt exhibits some British features that are not represented on the other.  Perhaps, with the passage of time and the continuous contact many immigrants, including Quakers, had with friends and relatives in Britain, the British block-style began to evolve in both Britain and America into less rigid styles.
 
One thing the two quilts share is a precision of piecing achieved by the use of the British "mosaic patchwork" technique, also referred to as the British Method of piecing and paper piecing.  In the nineteenth century, this technique used paper templates cut from old newspapers, books, letters, and broadsides over which the fabric was folded and then basted to form a desired shape.  The shapes were then connected along their folded edges by using a whip-stitch  and the paper templates was usually, but not always, removed.
 
Example of whip-stitch piecing from a nineteenth century quilt top owned by
Lynda Salter Chenoweth.



This technique was used for piecing square, triangular, and diamond shapes but is best known as the technique used to piece hexagons in the past and the present.  Both of the Savery quilts contain hexagons (as the centers of the stars) and modified diamond shapes (for the points of the stars).  The Scattergood Family Quilt uses full diamond shapes to form the medallion Sunburst pattern.

Example of a hexagon fashioned using the mosaic patchwork technique.  The paper template
has not been removed, and the basting is still intact.  Detail of a hexagon quilt top, Ardis and Robert
James Collection, at the IQSCM (Object No. 1997.007.0341).  Photograph courtesy of the IQSCM,
Lincoln, Nebraska.
 
The Savery Quilts at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum are significant examples of the early American quilts made by descendants of relatives who migrated to America from England at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries.  They combine traditional British influences in layout and construction with overall design that reflects the creativity of their talented maker - Rebecca Scattergood Savery.
 
Sources:
 
Frisch, Janice E.  "British Influences on the American Block-Style Quilt" in Quilt Studies, The Journal of the British Quilt Study Group, Issue 15, 2014.
 
Long, Bridget.  Elegant Geometry, American and British Mosaic Patchwork.  Lincoln, NE: The International Quilt Study Center and Museum, 2011.
 
Rae, Janet.  The Quilts of the British Isles.  London: Deirdre McDonald Books, 1987.
 
Related research notes provided by the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska.  Our thanks to Carolyn Ducey, Curator of Collections, for sharing this material.
 
 
(c)  Lynda Salter Chenoweth and Mary Holton Robare, 2015.
 

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