Saturday, July 2, 2011

Patriotic Quilts

It's the 4th of July weekend and here in Minnesota, miles from Lake Wobegon, it's brutally hot - with a heat index at feels like a sauna out there. So I am staying in the a/c as much as possible, feasting on cold watermelon and treating myself like it's a holiday.

Quilts expressing patriotism or political convictions have been made throughout the years, peaking especially during times of war, election time, the Centennial Exposition of 1876, the bicentennial of 1976 and after 9/11 in the U.S.

I made this quilt several years ago. I call it 'Star Spangled Sparkler' though the design is often called Farmer's Daughter (which I am, come to think of it!)
The use of red, white and blue, intentional or not, lends any quilt an undeniable patriotic aesthetic.
Hand quilted in an overall 'fan'
I started these flags on the 4th of July in 2007 with the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy playing on the TV in my sewing room. (Egads! I pride myself on keeping good quilt records but I now realize this habit can be a real downer! FOUR years ago?? Impossible!)
The pattern is '12 Star Salute' by Cotton Pickin' Designs. I added an extra row so I guess it's really a 15 Star Salute. The photo shows only part of that extra row at the top. I will do a better job of photography in its next appearance.....Maybe by July 4, 2012 it will have become a real quilt and be on a bed at the cabin.

These two 30" square Lonestar tops were made for teaching samples 'some time ago'. I refuse to look up the exact year. I am into medallions now so one (or both) may become the stellar centerpiece of a larger quilt. Truly, there is some benefit in not rushing things. Good ideas need to germinate.

I have plenty of appropriate fabrics in this category

 I tried to contain them within an old dish pan but.....I forecast lots of pieced backs on the finished quilts.....


The only 'vintage' example I have in my collection is this crib sized quilt featuring the bicentennial logo. It was offered by Mountain Mist in1976 both as a pattern and a kit in crib or full size.  The 'red' in this one leans toward orange....

..... but the amazing thing about it is that it is not pieced but appliqued.  I get the logo at the center of each star but those tiny little triangles?  yes...all appliqued onto a white wholecloth foundation which I believe you can see in the close-up. On top of that, the fabric is a poly/cotton blend making the task even more daunting than working with all cotton which was hard to find back then.

Here are the Mountain Mist ads which appeared in various needlecraft magazines of the time. My thanks to Rosie Werner and her kit quilt identification site for these images. 
Though red, white and blue are perhaps the most frequently used colors in American quilts with political or patriotic intent, here are two of my favorite exceptions from the book All Flags Flying by Robert Bishop and Carter Houck.

"Sweet Land of Liberty"   1985
72" x 72"
Jeanne Champion Nowakowski
North Carolina

"Hope"   1985
72" x 72"
 Barbara Barber
Rhode Island
   More information on this subject...........
 As far as the current market for patriotic quilts, Stella Rubin in Treasure or Not? How to Compare and Value American Quilts, states that in spite of the wide range in quality and style, patriotic themed quilts continue to be of interest to collecters due to their relative rarity and the individuality of designs.

Next: Mariner Medallion Update


  1. Just testing to see if comments work as I have seen none and noticed another blogger posted about comment problems.

  2. An interesting array of patriotic quilts. I love red, white & blue quilts.

  3. Hi Jean, Just noticed this blog because I was searching for "Bicentennial Kit Quilt" and I was happy to find the Mountain Mist information. I just received a Mountain Mist Bicentennial bed size quilt!! Bill


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