Coverlet Continued

The original English coverlet features four “vases.” There is one vase in each corner of the center square of the coverlet.

Enlargement of Original Coverlet First Corner

This photo is an enlargement of one of the corners. The vase and the flowers in it all look as if they were cut from fabric that had been manufactured for furnishings. Furnishings would be items such as curtains, cushion covers, anything fabric that would “furnish” a house with beauty.

In the back of her book, Mrs. Colby discusses the traditional stitching techniques used in coverlet construction. About applique, she said: “In applied (applique) work, hemming can be used on all patterns which will retain a good outline after a turning has been made. The shape of the pattern also depends on the worker’s skill in turning the hem…..” Today we would call this stitch a traditional applique stitch.

Next she says, “Herringbone is another stitch employed in plain sewing. It resembles cross-stitch in appearance….in applied work it is the means by which the patterns are attached to the foundation. The edges of the cut-out patterns are left raw….Herringbone stitch is then worked over the (raw) edges…this stitch can be used to apply almost any kind of pattern and is invariably worked in white or natural cotton or linen sewing thread. The latticed effect made by the herringboning softens the outline.”

Example of herringbone applique. From Kay & Lori Lee Triplett's book Chintz Quilts.

She also states that: “In applied work it (button-hole stitch) has been used as a traditional means of attaching patterns in which the raw edges are left unfolded. The stitches should be spaced evenly and yet be close enough together to hid the material underneath. They should on no account be crowded together, as this tends to cut the materials and cause them to pull away from the foundation.”

It is impossible to know exactly which stitching technique  was used on this particular coverlet because it cannot be examined closely.  However, Mrs. Colby does discuss the larger pieces of this coverlet, such as the vase and the larger heart-shaped pieces along the outside edges of this coverlet center.

She says that, “The patterns in early wood-block prints were sewn originally to the fine unbleached linen with loop-stitch (buttonhole stitch) with thin brown wool, but during many repairs (some as late as 1835), coloured silk and cotton thread have been added.”

Based on their dark outline appearance that we can see in the above photo, the dark brown wool was probably used for the stems and to outline the vase and the heart shapes at the base of the vase.

Although it cannot be proved, I would guess that the small details of the coverlet (such as the morning glories around the crown center and flowers along the dark stems) were attached with a herringbone stitch or a “hemming stitch.” I believe that using a heavy dark brown wool thread on these small details would have overwhelmed them.

When I set about to draw the pattern for this coverlet, I had two goals: 1) to create something that would reflect the era and the mood of the original coverlet and 2) to use applique shapes instead of cut out chintz motifs for the flowers that are so generously spread over this coverlet. I also decided to use my traditional applique techniques because I like the process. I am going to be working on this coverlet for a very long time, I had better enjoy the “journey.”

To make my applique shapes look like the chintz motifs that the original quiltmaker used, I studied chintz fabric from the era (late 1700’s to early 1800s) and drew my flowers from the flowers I found there. I then arranged my newly drawn flowers in similar vases.

With a nod to the original coverlet, I outlined my vase with buttonhole stitches in dark brown thread. (I used 2 ply Aurifil 28wt thread.)

However I did not use the dark buttonhole stitches on the heart shapes.

My peony blossoms were constructed of many pieces of fabric…reproductions of early 19th century prints. For the leaves I used dark browns to keep the dark look of the original coverlet stems.

These additional blossoms were inspired by printed chintz flowers.

And, finally, here is my first completed corner.

Whew! Are you still with me? That was a very long post…

I’ll be back next week with more…

One Response to “Coverlet Continued”

  1. maittlen61 Says:

    Visit maittlen61

    I have only just discovered your blog via Pinterest. A lovely photo of your centre of the Marriage Coverlet. I have found your posts on this so interesting , thank you. I have a blog, the address is…
    I can’t wait to look back through your older posts!
    Cheers, Rowena

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