Ever heard of a 'bed turning'? That's where all the quilts are stacked on the bed and you turn them over one at a time to see each one.
When I first saw this antique quilt, I had a strong feeling it was made from a quilt kit.
So I started searching. I wanted to know how it was made, whether it was a pattern, or a kit, or something original. I was pretty sure it was a kit though... and I assumed that because it was so beautifully made. There is nothing wrong with quilts made from kits. Kits are in fact an excellent way to ensure that you will have a professional design and make a lovely quilt, and isn't that what its all about?
Especially in the first half of the 20th century, women did not have a lot of time to search for all the fabrics required, tools were scarce, and there were lots of demands on a maker's time and energy. So to be able to afford a professional quilt kit, and then to actually make it, was quite something.
This quilt design features two central wreaths. The applique flowers and vines are all solid colors, and the center wreath is made with two tones of blue fabric appliqued to look like ribbon. It is hand quilted, of course.
So finally, after about five months of pondering, I finally found the source! Thanks to a new book by Rose Marie Werner titled "Quilt Kits: 20th Century Short Cuts."
There it is, on page 104... My Aunt Polly's exact quilt! The author explains that this quilt was sold as a kit starting in 1934 by the Merribee Art Embroidery Company. This company was founded in New York and it is not known what happened to the company after 1952. They encouraged women to make their products and then sell them to earn extra income.
The fabric in the Merribee kit's were pre-stamped with lines on where to cut and shape the applique, and in all likelihood the whole cloth foundation would also have been stamped for accurate placement of the applique, and the quilting stitch design would be marked as well.
Based on this information, my Aunt Polly's version was most likely made sometime between 1934 and 1952.
I am so happy that I was able to find this information and learn more about this special quilt. Knowing more about its history makes all the more valuable, and more importantly, treasured.
Special thanks to my photographer husband who had the patience to take photos of the bed turning!