1877 - 1946 Aimee Hodge's Crazy-patched Parlor Throw

Description
Aimee Elkington was twelve when she first embroidered a ribbon for this decorative parlor throw in 1877. It was the beginning of the popularity of “crazy quilts,” decorative tops that were pieced of irregularly shaped bits of silk fabrics, elaborately embroidered, and lined with a silk or cotton fabric. While some may have been used as bedcovers, more often they were displayed in the parlor.
Merchants sold packages of fabric samples, instructions for assembling them, and embroidery patterns to add an endless variety of designs and ornamental stitches. Often the throws were individualized by incorporating mementoes such as campaign ribbons, embroidered or printed poems, and significant phrases, dates or initials. Aimee employed many of the popular motifs and techniques on her throw.
The parlor throw is composed of twenty-five crazy-patched and embroidered blocks. In 1946, almost seventy years after she first started, Aimee joined the blocks together. She died shortly after, before she could add a planned border and lining. Among the motifs are fans, cattails, sunflowers, spider webs, and hearts, all frequently found on other parlor throws. Flowers were not only embroidered but also made of puckered and tacked velvet, padded silk pile, or silk floss that was tacked down and sheared. Applique, crazy patchwork, hand-painting, and fancy embroidery stitches were used to create the elaborate top.
The embroidered initials “AE” in the center signify Aimee Elkington. Some of the blocks may have memorialized friends, such as the crane motif, said to be included for a friend named Crane. A poem, “Easter” by William Croswell, printed on one silk patch, may have had special significance for Aimee. The silk, satin, and velvet fabrics are typical of the period, as are the many colors of silk embroidery thread, chenille, and metallic cord used to embellish them. Created over a lifetime, it is in the rendition that Aimee created a unique and very personal object.
Aimee Elkington was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1865. She married a Mr. Shepherd, and the couple's daughter, Glaydes, was born in Florida about 1890. On the 1900 census, Aimee was widowed, she and young daughter were living with her mother, Elizabeth Elkington Power, and stepfather, Samuel Power, in Eustis, Lake County, Fla. By 1910 Aimee had remarried, to John L. Hodge, and was living in Lucas, Ohio. As a young child in 1868, John had moved from Canada to the United States. Aimee died in 1946. Glaydes, Aimee’s daughter, donated the quilt (parlor throw) in 1970 and was “delighted to have [my mother’s quilt] in an interesting and wonderful place.”
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
quilt
date made
1877-1946
maker
Hodge, Aimee Elkington
Physical Description
fabric, silk, satin, taffeta, velvet, ribbon (overall material)
thread, silk, cotton, chenille, metallic cord (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 67 in x 67 in; 170 cm x 170 cm
ID Number
TE*T15200A
catalog number
T15200A
accession number
291108
subject
Quilting
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Quilts
Family & Social Life
Textiles
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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