National Quilt Collection
"Quilt": A cover or garment made by putting wool, cotton or other substance between two cloths and sewing them together. An American Dictionary of the English Language, by Noah Webster, LL.D., New York 1828.
The National Quilt Collection incorporates quilts from various ethnic groups and social classes, for quilts are not the domain of a specific race or class, but can be a part of anyone’s heritage and treasured as such. Whether of rich or humble fabrics, large in size or small, expertly crafted or not, well-worn or pristine, quilts in the National Quilt Collection provide a textile narrative that contributes to America’s complex and diverse history. The variety and scope of the collection provides a rich resource for researchers, artists, quilt-makers and others.
Part of the Division of Home and Community Life textiles collection, the National Quilt Collection had its beginnings in the 1890s. Three quilts were included in a larger collection of 18th- and 19th-century household and costume items donated by John Brenton Copp of Stonington, Connecticut. From this early beginning, the collection has grown to more than 500 quilts and quilt-related items, mainly of American origin, with examples from many states, including Alaska and Hawaii. Most of the contributions have come to the Museum as gifts, and many of those are from the quilt-makers’ families. The collection illustrates needlework techniques, materials, fabric designs and processes, styles and patterns used for quilt-making in the past 250 years. The collection also documents the work of specific quilt-makers and commemorates events in American history.
Learn more about the quilt collection and step behind the scenes with a video tour.
"National Quilt Collection - Introduction" showing 1 items.
- The quilt is said to have been made by Clara Harrison of Middlebury, Connecticut. The top of this quilt is of indigo resist-dyed cotton that probably dates from the mid-eighteenth century. The fabrics used for this quilt were most likely sections of bed furniture and then re-used for this quilt in the late-eighteenth or very-early-nineteenth century. Bed furniture may have included curtains at the sides, head, and foot that could enclose the whole bed, a bed cover, and valances around the top and base. The lining of this quilt is linen, with a carded wool filling. It is quilted five or six stitches to the inch.
- To obtain the design in the fabric, a dye-resistant substance was applied to the area that was not to be colored. It appears that the resist paste was both block printed and painted on this cotton fabric. The fabric was then dipped in an indigo dye. To achieve the two shades of blue, the lighter blue was dyed first, then covered with the resist and the fabric was dipped again for the darker blue. The resist was then removed, leaving the background without color. The indigo resist dyed cotton used for Clara Harrison's quilt is an example of recycling valuable fabrics when they are no longer suitable; too worn, faded or out of fashion for their original purpose.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Harrison, Clara
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center