Saturday, April 22, 2017

Quilt Style Timeline + Cheatercloth or Faux Patchwork




Quilts that don't come with a date stitched into them or somehow inked on them have other ways of giving us clues as to their approximate age. Style is just one clue. Here is a general style guideline handed out at the first meeting of the Northern Virginia Quilt & Fabric Dating Club in June 1995. I have barely tweaked it. Any suggestions or additions?

As you can see, it doesn't go much beyond 1950. New categories have been established by quilt appraisers for quilts after 1950, I am sure, so it's probably time for me to update this list. But since most quilts in my collection pre-date 1960, I haven't yet taken the time to update my own list.


General Quilt Style Timeline

Wholecloth..........1700s-1865
(includes whitework, trapunto-stuffed and corded,

Blue Resist)

Wool or worsted..........1750-1840

Cut-out chintz or Broderie Perse..........1775-1865

Pieced Chintz..........1775 - 1863

Square on point.........1800 - ??

Red and Green on white.........1830-1900

Blue (prints) and white..........1830—1930

Fancy silks..........1830-1910

Four Block (applieque not Broderie Perse)..........1840-1900

Album (all same block pattern)..........1840 - present

Album (appliqué Sampler)..........1840-1900

Two color quilts (red & white, blue & white, etc) 1840-1925

Hawaiian quilts..........1840 - present

Charm quilts..........1870-1950

Log Cabin at its peak..........1870-1890

Foundation (string and crazy)..........1875 – present

Utility and comforters..........1875 – 1950

Amish classics (wool)..........1880-1940

Outline embroidery (for fund raising to 1950).....1880 – present

Turn of 20th century dark colors..........1890-1925

Marie Webster’s appliqués appear in pastel colors in LHJ Jan 1911

Pastel – white background – Art Deco..........1915 – present


Fabric Dating 

For me, the strongest clue is usually the fabric itself, but that took years of studying lots of old quilts and the clues break down within this category, too: scale of print, color scheme within individual prints, printing techniques, print styles, weave.

Solid colors can be a problem, though. Then you have to rely on any number of other clues, like pattern, style, the combination of the solid colors used in the quilt, dyes, etc.



Eileen Jahnke Trestain books, "Dating Fabrics, A Color guide 1800-1960" and "Dating Fabrics, A Color guide 1950-2000" are the two handiest guide books I have come across to help see the differences in color and design, era by era, at a glance.



Cheater Cloth or Faux Patchwork

The term "cheater cloth" was new to me as I began studying quilt history in the early 1980s. Some folks call it "faux" patchwork cloth. Others simply call it "printed patchwork." For me it's fun to find the early stuff, i.e. pre 1900 but I do occasionally buy small pieces of 20th century "cheater cloth" because they are good tools to show what color combinations were popular at a given time period.

Here are a couple of items from my doll quilt collection and yardage collection.

A circa 1890 doll quilt  11x17 



Quilt segment above showing use of "cheater cloth" or "printed patchwork" as most quilt historians prefer to call it now.  Notice the different color way on the back. 




Fairly recently produced printed patchwork honoring quilters.




Another delightful doll quilt (1930s) using printed patchwork fabric.







A darling quilted doll coat using printed patchwork cloth. Probably 1970s.





Unused printed patchwork yardage - 1970s





A dress of printed patchwork seen in Indiana. Probably 1950s.



Unused printed patchwork yardage - ca 1900-1925?





Doll quilt - 13 x 23. The woman to whom this once belonged was born in 1917. 
The daughter was selling her mother's belongings after he mother and passed and 
did not know who made this little quilt.





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