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Mariner's Compass Quilt

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Mariner's Compass Quilt

Artist: Maker unknown (United States)

Date: 1830-1850
Medium: Pieced cotton quilt; green, gold and red on white background with green, gold and red border and red edging
Overall: 92 × 78in. (233.7 × 198.1cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Mildred Kassing
Object number: 85.93
Label Text
The art of pieced and appliqué quilts flourished in America between 1775 and 1875. The designs and patterns were regionally inspired and the names were often derived from historical or social events. Variations on eight-pointed star patterns include the Texas Star, Harvest Sun, and Mariner's Compass, as shown here.

Many quilts were assembled at quilting bees, which linked domestic chores with entertainment. Local women gathered to quilt a completed top to its backing; this accounts for the variations in stitches on an individual quilt. The hostess provided meals, needles, beeswax, thread, and scissors while the women enjoyed exchanging material scraps, patterns, and local news. In the evening, men and children joined the group for a communal meal, often followed by music and games.

Construction notes: This pieced quilt consists of 30 roundels with 8 pointed stars (Mariner's Compass pattern) inset into the quilt top. The quilt has a pieced top, some fill, and it is lined with a plain weave fabric. It is quilted with running stitches worked in a pattern of diamonds at the border. The edges are bound in pink. Most of the fabrics used in the quilt are printed with small motifs, along with some solids. The size and placement of the motifs suggest that the cottons were roller-printed fabrics.