I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, July 17, 2015

Collecting Tiny (Doll) Quilts

Hello! It's the beginning of a beautiful weekend here. I'm just back from my beach walk.

"Don' wanna!"
A few weeks ago I mentioned, apropos of what I forget, that I once had a nice collection of antique doll quilts which I had sold at a time when money was tight and space was short. Rummaging around for Pink Lemonade to show on Lori's FB page I did find a few cute little survivors. They are survivors in every sense of the word...not sold, still cherished, tattered though they may be.
This is a fave, with its pretty indigo blues. 13.5" x 13.5"; late 19th century. Pattern is a nine patch with an unusual red accented sashing.

Rebound and patched.

Too loved and worn to try to sell to the critical shoppers on eBay, it has remained with my other small quilts for years.

I especially treasure it for the fine quilting which is a miniature Hearts pattern, This little quilt was made and given with love.

This little quilt is a more recent eBay purchase.

Obviously the seller had no qualms about selling what is barely a mouse chewed rag. Of course I had to rescue it.

It was quite soiled. The purple print looked brown when it arrived.
It too is a Nine Patch.19th century. No batting, fine but plain quilting And the best binding I've ever seen on a doll quilt, measuring a scant 1/8", perfectly sewed. 9" x 15"

It needs restoration. I have these fabrics out but I know I have a better purple somewhere. So it is waiting.

The back is a very faded but wonderful Lancaster blue miniature: tiny sprigs on a fine shirting style stripe.

Either of these two little quilts would be fun to copy and reproduce as faithfully as possible.

Then I unfolded this cutie. Barbara Brackman has posted recently on this pattern, asking/ investigating if this pattern was used as a con or hoax, to pretend to be unusual folk art in origin.

As I recall this type of quilt was sold in museum stores years ago, no fraud intended. [you can read Brackman's blog for her scholarly opinion.] You can see it is poorly made with no effort to do fine work. Yet the front is well done and the images are so charming.

I've had it at least 15 years. I think it's adorable, but I was asked not to display it in my home because it may be offensive. I sold all my black cloth folk dolls at the same time for a similar reason, and surely I do not want to own or show a racist image or send a wrong message to my children.

So I have kept it and loved it quietly. Is that the right thing to do? I never know, except for what is in my heart and mind. [approx 15" square; c. 1980s]

This quilt, also a modern repro, was bought from the same dealer at about the same time. Of course I bought it , it's HEARTS and a great Hearts block design. I knew it was a repro and paid only a few dollars for it. I often use it around Valentine's Day. [approx 24" x 30", c. 1980s?]

I love it despite its fakeness.
On a beach note---here is the latest of Pokeberry. Please excuse my Mo spotted rug!

The pokes are so fun to sew. Upcoming blocks will be harder, as the pokes' stems and berries cross over multiple background pieces and have to be partially sewed then finished later.

I'm not thrilled with this ''distressed'' black flannel. It marks badly at the pressed seams.

And as I sat there on the sand, sewing the berries, I was thinking that in a hundred years someone will see these pokes and think that they are GRAPES! I'll have to make an explanatory label. Pokeberry weed is so much more unique than mundane grapes. Maybe this?

And last...these are the little green baseball squash. Just so's you know, they were AWFUL. Nasty. The casserole was a flop. Too darn bad.

Have a fun weekend? What're your plans?

And what about the little black dolly quilt? Is it politically incorrect, even offensive? And if so what should I do with it?



gone to the beach.....

"I'm just gonna sit here, like a sack of cement, mom.
Or you can carry me home.
But I'm not walking."


  1. LOL, I think Mo wants that stroller....

    I can't see 'grapes' when I look at the pokeberries. A label would be cool anyway, just for future historians!

    If you like the little black dolly quilt you should certainly keep it. There's nothing about it that could be considered degrading. As for racist - well, I think there are a lot of racists out there that aren't white! One of my peeves... The dolls are cute, so don't worry about what everyone else thinks!

  2. We have white and black people in this world today, so why not white and black doll quilts. Hang it up and show you're NOT a racist. I think it's a wonderful little quilt.

  3. Hello My Friend! I am back from the other sea! And it was glorious. On your quilt question, hang it up and love it and cherish it. I have a friend who collects all sorts of Black Memorabilia and displays it proudly and a nicer person you would never meet. She just thinks it is a lovely art form. I do too! Hugs, Kit

  4. Love that Mo! As for the little quilt with the black dolls, that would not be racist! Hang it and enjoy it! It's beautiful!
    I do not see grapes, but for future owners, the label would be a good idea!


  5. The Pokeberry quilt is looking so cute. I don't think 'grapes' would come to my mind, but I have the advantage of being in the know.

    I think the black dolly quilt is not politically incorrect or racist. It would seem more weird to avoid buying or displaying a piece like that because the dolls are black. I think it's nice that your kids are aware enough that they worry about offending someone, but I would say no need to be concerned.

    Weekend plan was going to consist of attending a theater production of 'Singin' in the Rain', but I LOST the tickets. You just know they're going to turn up in the most obvious place. We had rain for a lot of the day today, it was wonderful! It's VERY humid...my hair is HUGE, lol.


  6. first siteing of you blog. (link frm Spirit cloth0
    I used to collect old quilts.Really appreciate you sharing , even the reproductions.The black doll quilt was displayed with respect, as art and as a treasure. How could that be wrong? I look forward to stopping in lots in the future.

    1. Hi Judy! Welcome. I do hope you'll visit , I love meeting new firends here.

  7. Good advice from everyone! Thank you.

    I kind of glossed over the fact that this is not black folk art but FAKE black folk art. So it has shaky little feet in its provenance. But the result is good, and so I have kept it and loved it, as you all suggest.

  8. I love your little dolly quilts and agree with the other commenters about displaying it. You have to do what feels right for you.
    Your pokeberries are so cute!


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