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.
- In 1939, Millie Medaris’s granddaughter donated this “Ocean Wave” pieced quilt. Unfortunately, little is known at this time about the quilt maker. The “Ocean Wave” has been a popular pattern at various times and this mid-nineteenth-century quilt provides a competently rendered example.
- The quilt is composed of fourteen-inch blocks pieced of plain and printed triangles around plain cotton centers. A three-inch white cotton border frames the “Ocean Wave” pattern, enhanced by a ¾-inch printed cotton strip along the inside edges of the two sides. The fabrics used, typical of the late 1850s, are plain-colored, roller-printed, and checked cottons. All the pieced triangles are outline-quilted, with clamshell quilting on the white centers and double diagonal lines on the border. It is finely quilted, 10 stitches per inch.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Medaris, Millie
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center