I am working on a Rose of Sharon quilt for the 2014 American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) quilt study. If you are not familiar with a study quilt, check out the guild website to see the Colonial Revival quilt study from 2012. I had read about the quilt study and wanted to get involved with one when I finally joined the AQSG two years ago. I submitted a participant release form that placed me on a waiting list. This particular study is very popular. Then, I had to find an inspiration quilt that represented the quilt study period of 1850-1865. This quilt can be recreated or inspire a design that must meet certain guidelines. Earlier this year, some of the participants dropped out of the study, so now I am among the fifty quilters that will have the opportunity to present my study quilt at Seminar in September.
I chose my inspiration quilt last Spring and received permission to use it for the study. The inspiration quilt is in the permanent collection of the DAR Museum in Washington D.C. You can view the quilt on The Quilt Index at the following link. The quilt was made in Missouri for Mary Ann Poindexter, who married Dr. John Marshall Staples on September 30, 1852. Her mother and sisters made the quilt. It is dated 1852, so it easily falls within the guidelines for the study. Unfortunately, Dr. Staples died during the Civil War and Mary Ann’s sister Elizabeth presented her sister with the quilt on the occasion of her marriage to Parks Gunn in 1872.
I have been preparing the applique shapes over the last couple of days so that I can finally applique the blocks. Here are the pieces laid out in the pattern design.
Rose of Sharon is a popular applique pattern that has many variations. It is one of many patterns with a biblical name, derived from a verse in Song of Songs, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Ruth Finley states in her book Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them, page 126, “The best known appliqué pattern of all was “The Rose of Sharon”. Many examples of the quilt still survive simply because they were made as special quilts that did not receive frequent use. Most often, the pattern was made as a wedding quilt, the last of a young woman’s dowry of thirteen quilts. My quilt uses an earlier version of the Rose of Sharon pattern that has a single stemmed rose with several rosebuds radiating out from the central flower. The inspiration quilt used red, pink and green fabrics, but I chose to use two shades of pink. The study quilt will be a four-block design with a swag border, more simplistic than the swag border in the inspiration quilt.
One of the first quilts that I made back in 1981 was a Rose of Sharon pattern. I used a newer pattern design with a center flower and mirror images of vines with rose buds and leaves coming out from the four sides of the center rose. This design is often seen in vintage quilts and is more often made with shades of pink fabric. My first Rose of Sharon quilt was poorly constructed using a raw edge satin applique stitch. Cotton solid fabrics were not readily available in the early 80’s and I did not know any better than to use the cotton/poly blends found in my local five and dime store that sold fabrics. The quilt did not hold up well with continued use by the recipient, my sister. For this reason, I chose to make the Rose of Sharon pattern for my study, so that I could utilize my improved applique skills to produce the quilt. This time around Kona cottons are my choice of fabric. I am also hand stitching the applique pieces, although I plan to machine quilt the finished top.
I have a lot to do before this quilt needs to be finished, but feel confident that it will go quickly. Hand applique is my favorite method of stitching and the portable quality of the project will allow me to take it wherever I go. The next step is to cut out the four white background blocks and position the pieces onto them for stitching. As well, I have to finish my Written Statement to submit within the next month.
I know that many of you enjoy challenges. This is actually my third type of quilt challenge this year. Having a deadline helps me stay focused on finishing a project. How about you? Do you prefer working with deadlines or working along at a leisurely pace?
I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress.