I think that I had been pulling out stuff from my mother’s linen closet for about two hours at the point where I made this discovery. My mother had countless boxes of soap and light bulbs on the upper shelves, along with brand new sheets and towels that had never been used. Now, however, I was down on the floor. I tugged and tugged on what I thought was a wadded up old stained blanket stuck way back in the corner. Fortunately, instead of automatically throwing it into the Goodwill pile for donations, I unfolded it. I was quite pleased to find an antique summer coverlet that had been quilted.
In a previous posting I wrote about a quilt that my aunt had given me that had been made by a grandmother that I never knew. That one, with its simple butterflies, had been made for a child’s bed and had been made for a children’s orphanage. This new one, that I found, quite a bit bigger. It measures 84″ (213 cm) square, so it’s quite a bit larger, although two or more children often slept in the same bed. There are 16 pre-printed panels (each 16.5″ or 42 cm square) that were stamped in blue ink, one of which is shown here. A medium blue embroidery floss of split down to three threads instead of the usual six, was used to go over the printed design, using a straight stitch. There wasn’t much care taken to disguise the blue thread under the white fabric, as shown where I added a red arrow in the middle of the picture above.
This panel is another one of the four different panels. Zoo animals are depicted here, while there was another design showing native birds and animals and another one of storybook characters. After the 16 panels were completed, (4 of each design), they were attached in columns of four with a plain white piece of fabric between, or a “sashing”. The entire quilt doesn’t seem to have any batting in the middle, so is probably what I knew as a “summer coverlet” when I was growing up. Those were much lighter weight than the thicker ones for winter.
In the middle of each design was the number of the quilt bock design and the company that made it. It looks like “VOGUEL”, but is probably Vogue-Vogart, a company that made pre-stamped panels to be embroidered and made into quilts. My guess is that the quilt was made in the mid 1920s, as the photo of my Dad from that time period, below (whose side the quilt came from) shows him and his brother dressed like the little boy giving the cat milk in the lower left of the first photo above. The straight cut bobbed hair and the big collars were definitely from that time period.
The embroidered panels were seamed together and then a backing fabric was added. The entire piece was quilted in a simple running stitch using white thread. Most of the quilting was done in a simple grid pattern to keep the two layers from slipping, In a few places, there was a diagonal lined added for a little more interest.
Basically, this quilt was quickly done to make a utilitarian bed covering. However, I’d like to think that perhaps impromptu bedtime stories were told over it, using the animals and characters as the focus of the story. The quilt has suffered through the ages, as there are the usual signs of body fluids that are usually found on children’s quilts. I have no idea how long my mother had had the quilt stuffed on the floor of her linen closet, so I imagine that some of the stains are from tannin in the wood of the molding along the floor. My brother has claimed this quilt, so I’m hoping that it gets a much kinder treatment in the future.
For more information on the history of pre-printed quilt panels, check out this link.
Did you have a favorite blanket or “binky” that you carried around? Perhaps it was a favorite sweater or a stuffed animal that you carried around for comfort. Why not tell us a tale of your childhood treasure.
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