1790 - 1810 Clara Harrison's Resist-dyed Cotton Quilt

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
Object Name
Object Type
date made
Harrison, Clara
Physical Description
fabric, cotton, linen (overall material)
thread, linen (overall material)
filling, wool (overall material)
overall: 94 in x 83 in; 238 cm x 211 cm
place made
United States: Connecticut, Middlebury
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Domestic Furnishings
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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