Historic Quilts and Coverlets
Welcome to Lowndes County Historical Museum’s Quilts and Coverlets web display. As you browse through this section you may click on each picture to get a larger view and more information on the picture. Many of the quilts and coverlets shown here are currently not on display at the museum. However, they may be viewed at the museum by appointment.
Pieced quilts are formed by sewing together precisely cut shapes to make a larger shape which is usually called a block. These blocks are then sewn to sashing- a framing of fabric- or sewn together without sashing to form the quilt top. The Railroad Ties quilt shown here is designed with sashing but the windmill blocks are pieced together without the sashing. The Wedding Ring Quilt Top shows an example of a more difficult quilt design to sew since it’s forms are based on an arc.
Log Cabin Quilts
The two log cabin quilts that are shown here look completely different because of the placement of light and dark colors.
Quilts Based On a Triangle
Piecing triangles can be potentially more difficult for a inexperienced quilter due to the fact that they are sewn on the bias which can stretch out of shape. This did not discourage historic quilters who worked many varied designs using this geometric shape.
Pieces that make up a crazy quilt do not follow a certain shape but are made of scraps of fabric sewn to a foundation material. The foundation material is not seen since it is fully covered. Many of the seams of the fashion fabric are covered with embroidered stitches displaying a wide range of stitches and combinations of stitches. Some of the pieces of fabric within the quilt might also have been embroidered within the piece itself with motifs such as flowers and animals or signed with embroidery stitches with names and dates. Many of these quilts were used as show pieces instead of utilitarian quilts. They were very popular during the Victorian Era and many times included fancy materials such as pieces of velvet, upholstery, and silks.
This crazy quilt was donated to the museum in 1971 by Natalie Williams. Her mother, Mrs. Missouri Roberts Sirmans (1871-1951) wife of Joseph W. Sirmans, made the quilt and her initials are embroidered in the center. This quilt is extensively embroidered. 1900 Census shows Missouri Roberts was married in 1892. Since her married name and husbands initials are on the quilt, this dates this quilt between 1892-1951. See also the 1833 coverlet made by Lucretia Thames, grandmother of Natalie Williams.
The museum also has several historic appliqué quilts. Appliqué is a technique by which a fabric is stitched onto a foundation fabric in order to make a pattern and is thus not limited to geometric shapes.The foundation fabric may be a whole cloth or it may be blocks which are then sewn together with other blocks to make up the quilt. Sometimes pieced and appliqué techniques are used within the same quilt.
Combination of Techniques
This Blue Quilt was the first project of the Withlacoochee Quilt Guilders. It uses a combination of appliqué and pieced blocks. The blocks names are typed on the back along with the person who made the block. This quilt hung in the office of Gil Harbin, who was the Director of Industry and Trade of the Chamber of Commerce in Valdosta, Georgia from 1987-1994. The quilt was donated to the Lowndes County Historical Museum in 2012.
Hand woven Coverlets
Hand woven coverlets are woven bed spreads which were usually made from handspun wool, linen, and or cotton. The threads were then dyed or left their natural color. It is interesting to note that in at least one of the examples in the museum, the natural black color of the wool was used. Many woven designs were employed to make these coverlets but by far the most popular designs were those that use the geometric overshot. Much like quilt patterns, overshot weave patterns had names that varied according to regions. Many of these names were taken from common everyday life such as “bow tie” and “wagon wheel.” Although these were beautiful pieces in their own right, their sturdy structure made them practical for every day use. For those who would like to try their hand at weaving their own heirloom, many of these historic coverlet patterns may still be found in weaving pattern books including Mary Black’s Book The Key To Weaving
This coverlet pattern is sometimes called “gods eye”.
1861 Black and White Coverlet
This particular coverlet is made in black and white utilizing the natural color of the sheep to enhance the design. The documented date on this coverlet is 1861.
Lovers Knot Coverlet
This lovers Knot pattern is a variation off of another pattern called the Whig Rose. This particular coverlet is made in brown and white.
Black, White, and Purple Coverlet
Knitted Bedspreads are included here because of their relation to quilts and coverlets. To date, two very similar knitted bedspreads have be donated to the museum. Each have raised leaf areas are were probably made around the same era. Both are testaments to the skillfulness, precision, and patience of the stitcher.