This Tree of Life quilt, circa 1850-1875, has a new chapter to it’s story. I date it thus because red and green quilts were very popular during that period, plus the tiny stitching and materials support my supposition. If I can pin down the maker’s life dates, we might have something more definitive.

Repaired Tree of LifeThe binding and edges were quite worn so I removed 1″ from three sides, and 2.5″ from the top. This allowed me to have fabric for repairing the 2 tears that remained (open previous post Tree of Life). A older fabric removed from another quilt was used to rebind the whole quilt. The beautiful cotton batting was made at home. When the upper edge was removed I could see the layers of cotton that were laid together after they were carded.Tree of Life batting_1

The brown fabric was originally green, and most likely home dyed. The reason I think this is because of what I found in one of the sashing strips. This close-up shows some sort of printing that would have been on the original cloth. Tree of Life printingStore-bought cloth would not have printing on it like this. When dyed, it must have been a dark enough green that the printing didn’t show. I expect that the green faded so badly because it was not a stable dye – sunlight and washing would have done the damage. What about the two darker green triangles? Probably a different fabric put in the dyepot that held the color better. Another interesting aspect is the cloth used for the back. Folded to the front as a binding, it is very loosely woven, much like cheesecloth.

Back of Tree of Life quilt, with repair
Back of Tree of Life quilt, with repair

I still don’t know who made this quilt. The owner is a little unsure, but has given me some names which I can research through census, marriage, and death records. There may be a lost chapter of this story that will be recovered.


2 thoughts on “Quilts as Storytellers

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