1800 - 1815 Taunay Family's Framed Center Quilt Top

1800 - 1815 Taunay Family's Framed Center Quilt Top

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This quilt top of unusual design, composed of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century fabrics, was acquired for the Collection in 1974. A piece of paper that accompanied the quilt top bears the notation: “Lappendehen Mtn West Indies familie Huh Taunay” and, “Taunay family heirloom.”
The quilt top is pieced of elongated hexagons around a center square printed with a chinoisserie design. The hexagonal pieces are joined by minute overcast stitches sewn with linen thread. Still evident are traces of paper templates used to stiffen the hexagons during the piecing process. The judicious placement of the dark-colored hexagon pieces creates larger hexagon shapes in the overall design of the top. The 7-inch border is pieced of smaller even-sided printed hexagons arranged in rosettes against a background of white hexagons.
The cotton fabrics used for the top present a sampler of printing techniques available in the early-nineteenth century. Block-printed, Indian-printed and painted, woven stripe and check, copperplate printed, and roller-printed cottons are all represented. The copper plate prints are from 1780 to 1800 and the block-prints from 1790 to 1810. The Indian cottons date from the late-eighteenthth century. The roller-prints are from the very-early-nineteenth century. A few areas have had replacement fabrics, and a few pieces are completely missing. The furnishing fabric border around the outer edge is block-printed, with penciled blue and yellow over blue enhancements. The array of fabrics used and the hexagonal pieced-work technique make this elegant quilt top an important example in the Collection.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
place made
West Indies
Physical Description
fabric, cotton (overall material)
thread, linen, cotton (overall material)
overall: 114 in x 98 in; 289 cm x 249 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Textiles
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I believe that the paper templates referred to in the copy were not used to stiffen the fabric. Hexagons were typically sewn with a paper piecing technique popular in England. This technique was (and still is) used in the States only for sewing hexagons together. Fabric is thread basted to the paper templates and the hexagons are held right sides together and are whip stitched together. You can see traces of the whip stitching in the seams on the close-up. The paper can be removed after the stitching is complete.

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