1840 - 1860 Hexagon Silk Quilt

Using an elaborate silk quilt, such as this hexagon example, in the parlor gave the accomplished needlewoman an opportunity to show off her work. This unknown maker displayed both her design and needlework skills as evidenced in the intricate pieced work, embroidery, and quilting on both quilts which were combined to make one.
The large star shapes on the top quilt are composed of 1-3/8-inch silk hexagons. Each shape is contained within a ring of black hexagons, further set off by another circle of stars made of 5/8-inch diamonds. In contrast, the center focus is a rose, embroidered in chenille yarn, on black velvet. This is echoed by the 4-1/2-inch black velvet border embroidered in a rosebud vine pattern. It is completed with a cotton filling and red cotton lining, and quilted with outline stitching on the hexagons and diamonds.
A second quilt is made of red silk with cotton filling and a printed cotton lining. It too is quilted, using red silk thread, in diagonal grid, feather plume, and circle quilting patterns. The quilting on both is 14 to 15 stitches per inch. The two complete quilts are stitched together around the edges and finished with a green binding.
The fine quilting, the use of a variety of silks and velvets, and the intricate work all contribute to this impressive example of needlecraft from the later part of the 19th century.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Physical Description
fabric, silk, velvet, cotton (overall material)
thread, silk, cotton, chenille (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 74 in x 65 in; 187 cm x 166 cm
place made
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Domestic Furnishings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Mr. Stewart Dickson
Additional Media

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