Darting Minnows quilt

Recently I had the opportunity to work on an old family quilt that has seen a lot of years. The pattern is “Darting Minnows” and is unusual because the design is made in the sashing. Sashing are the strips that are between the squares. Usually the squares or blocks have the design and the sashing holds them all together.

Barbara Brackman feels like this pattern goes back to the first half of the 1800s (1820 to 1860). She has a blog posts that deal with historical quilt patterns here.

Julia on left with her 3 children, circa 1920.
Julia on left with her 3 children, circa 1920.

Julia's name basted to quilt

The quilt was discovered in a house on the family farm in Dickson County, Tennessee. In the corner was a basted scrap of fabric with the written name ‘Julia Gilmore.’ Julia lived in that house all of her adult life, raising three children after her husband died just before the birth of their third child. But why would she put her name on her quilt? I think perhaps she got it from an earlier generation, maybe her mother who indicated that the quilt should go to her daughter.

Damaged Darting Minnows quiltThe borders on the quilt were beyond rescue so, with the owner’s permission, they were removed and a new brown binding was put on (see first photo). Some of the backing fabric was used for repairs on the back of the quilt.

damaged border

Darting Minnows, back

Darting Minnows, repair on back

This is all we were able to do at this time. A few repairs were done to the front, but more are needed when resources allow.


3 thoughts on “Darting Minnows Quilt Pattern is Old

  1. I have a darting minnows quilt that was handed down to me. My great great grandmother made it. It was photographed and featured in “Mississippi Quilts”. I would like to donate it. Do you know of any museums that would like to have one?

    1. Monica, Do you know a possible date for your quilt? I know of a house museum in Murfreesboro TN that would probably want it. I will contact you through my personal email. Thanks, Anne

      1. I need to get the book out to verify this, but I believe it was 1860’s. The family story is that my great, great grandmother brought this with her to Mississippi from Kentucky when they were trying to get away from the fighting. Email personally and I will be able to reply with a picture, etc.
        Thank you.

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