October 15, 2016

A Quaker Hexagon Quilt Top

In March, 2014, Mary had the pleasure of presenting an informal talk about Quaker quilts at the Goose Creek Meeting House, Loudoun County, Virginia.  Meeting members were invited to bring quilts in for discussion after her presentation.  One of the quilts was this silk, hexagon quilt top.  Measuring 66.25 X 80 inches, it has an estimated date of ca. 1865-1900.

Hexagon Quilt Top, March 23, 2014, photographed at Goose Creek Meeting.
All photographs by Mary Holton Robare.
Goose Creek Meeting House, Loudoun County, Virginia, 2014.
We consider this quilt top "Quaker" because it was owned by someone whose family were members of the Religious Society of Friends for many generations on both sides.  Although that does not mean it couldn't have been made by someone outside the family who was not a Friend, it was kept and cherished as a family piece.
Remnants of batting indicate the top was once part of a completed quilt and leftover bits of paper illustrate the paper-piecing technique used by its maker.

Interestingly, the silk of the center hexagons is pristine, while the more colorful hexagons that are nearer the edges have some shredding.  Its velvet border, which was stylistically prevalent in the Victorian era, is worn.  This prompts speculation that the piece was a multi-generation project.
Starting in the late 1800s, silk was sold by weight - the heavier the silk, the more expensive it was (and the more profitable for merchants).  Earlier, pre-weighted silks kept their condition, but the weighting agents that were added to create more expensive silks contributed to their faster deterioration.
Center of quilt top, possibly made with pre-weighted silk.
Edge of quilt top showing velvet border and later silks that were sold by weight.
According to the quilt top's owner, family tradition is that a small flag (pictured below) was sewn into the center of the top to show support for Abraham Lincoln around the time of the Civil War.  We have not been able to find out more about the flag, which appears to be woven, but dating it might help validate or disprove the story.  While family traditions are notoriously inaccurate, the fact that this story even exists illustrates the leanings of Loudoun County Quakers during the Civil War.
This quilt top was graciously loaned for an exhibit curated by Mary of Quaker Quilts that was held by the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society in their Abram's Delight Museum in 2014.
Hexagon Quilt Top on display, Abram's Delight Museum, Winchester-Frederick
County Historical Society, June 13-15, 2014.
This post is dedicated to the memory of Edgar P. Leggett who shared the top and its history.
Thank you to Barbara Garrett for information about weighted silk.
The Hexagon Quilt Top is one of twenty-five textiles  that appear in "Quaker Quilts: Snapshots of an Exhibition"  (To order, see link at left.)


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