1795 M. Campbell's Reverse Applique Quilt

1795 M. Campbell's Reverse Applique Quilt

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Embroidered in dark brown silk cross-stitches and eye-stitches along the top right edge of the center of this quilt is "M. Campbell 1795." This quilt is a rare dated and signed example of the use of reverse appliqué which is found in the center panel and the eight border motifs. In reverse appliqué, the positions of the pattern and background fabrics are reversed from those of onlaid appliqué. The silhouette of the pattern is cut out of the background fabric, and openings are filled by applying a contrasting fabric from underneath. It was not often used in American quilts. The remainder of the quilt top is of geometric pieced work.
Block printed cotton fabrics of floral prints, stripes, and small geometrics, mostly on brown or tan grounds, were used for the appliqué and piecework. The lining is linen and the filling cotton. All appliquéd motifs are outline quilted along both the inside and outside edges. The white backgrounds, center border, and printed fabric blocks in the outer border are quilted in a diagonal grid and chevron patterns, seven stitches to the inch. M. Campbell's skillfully worked quilt is a notable example of the reverse appliqué technique.
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Object Name
Object Type
Date made
place made
Physical Description
fabric, cotton, linen (overall material)
thread, linen, silk (overall material)
filling, cotton (overall material)
overall: 99 in x 88 in; 251 cm x 223 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Chronology: before 1820
Sewing and Knitting
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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"By your description of fabric being opened up and another fabric inserted, this sounds more like inlay appliqué than reverse appliqué. In reverse appliqué, the fabrics are layered, and the upper layers are removed to reveal existing layers beneath. Are you able to comment? Thank you! "

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