Mar 20, 2019

1930s quilt - modern and complicated even by today's standards

I am so excited to share this post. This is a quilt I recently purchased to add to my antique quilt collection. The date is circa 1930 - and it is hand quilted of course. This beauty was one of those extraordinary quilts that you see and just have to have. After I clicked the buy button on eBay... I started looking into this pattern and its history. Keep reading...!

Turns out, this quilt is titled Giant Dahlia and is based on a pattern by a man! Hubert Ver Mehren and his wife owned a small company called Home Arts Studios.

This quilt is almost certainly a kit and the fabric pieces were most likely pre-stamped with the cutting instructions.

Hubert Ver Mehren released his Giant Dahlia pattern in 1933, and this one - like several other well known patterns of his - was complex and unusual for quiltmaking. According to Susan Price Miller, who wrote a paper for Uncoverings (American Quilt Study Group) in 2000, the Home Arts Studios promotional material stated the Giant Dahlia is "a modern design for the woman of today who wants to create a quilt that is new and different and will go down in quilt history as one of the new designs for 1933."

The pattern was widely copied and Needlecraft Magazine published it again in 1935. Later, a 1983 book copied the design and gave new life to this old pattern. It is also believed that the Dahlia is copied by overseas makers who have exported inexpensive copies of the quilt to the U.S. So I am not an expert in dating textiles therefore I can't be 100% sure my quilt was actually handmade in the 1930s. I can only go by what the seller told me - that my quilt is a 1930s quilt. I hope so... although it could be a later copy. Either way, I do love it.

Hubert was not a quilter but he had an incredible eye and a special talent for transferring his ideas to textile patterns. He drafted his patterns without knowledge - or the constriction - of knowing how to piece quilts. As a result, his patterns are considered some of the most complex and dramatic pieced designs of the day. And they still continue to astonish today!

In my new book, "American Cotton: Farm to Quilt" another quilt by Home Arts Studio is featured - one title the Bridal Bouquet. Another reason I love this quilt and this era is because from around 1900 till around 1980, American textile mills dominated the global industry, so there is a high chance that most of the quilts made here during this time period were constructed with American-grown cotton and manufactured in America. You can read much more about all this in my new book. Check it out here. 

The border alone is amazing!

Below is the original Home Arts Studio pattern for the Giant Dahlia. And if you want to read more on Hubert Ver Mehren and his company, here is a link to the article by Susan Price Miller. It is available on The Quilt Index to read for free.

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