I found an old quilt at a flea market a couple of weeks ago. And although I will look at ANY old quilt, I didn't think I needed to add this quilt to my collection. It was hand tied and the fabric looked like early 20th century - small madder prints. The back, on the other hand, was a bit more appealing - it looked like a 19th century French floral linen. So then I asked myself - do I really want to purchase this quilt just for the fabric on the back - was it worth the $85 the vendor wanted? Then, somehow, as I was examining it closer, I noticed the second quilt - the quilt underneath the original quilt. At first I thought I was seeing things - was I really looking at a whole cloth turkey red paisley? I had never seen a quilt with a print anything like this - and it looked like it was on both sides! The vendor started coming in closer - not liking the fact that I was carefully lifting up the corner of the top quilt to see what was underneath. I snapped a quick picture and he was right behind me saying - "Delete that picture". I said "I was just trying to get a better look at what was underneath" - he growled "Buy it or delete it". At that point, I was so excited that I had found two quilts in one that I quickly paid him the money, grabbed the quilt and ran home!
Here's the French floral linen and the indigo border:
And here's the indigo border, the French floral linen, and the turkey red paisley peeking out from underneath:
I spent the whole weekend picking apart this quilt - luckily it was tied and not quilted. Picking away, I found four different cloths attached to this quilt: the top patchwork piece, the blue floral linen, an indigo border and the turkey red paisley. When I finally finished, hours later, I realized that someone had decided to save this beautiful quilt by simply adding another over the top. I imagined this stunning turkey red quilt was used till it was thread-worn, it has small patches of brown calico covering the big tears. Finally, the lady of the house said "Enough! - I'll go to the market and purchase some linen to cover the back side", and when that proved not to support the aging quilt, she, or maybe her daughter (?) pieced together a patchwork top and hand-tied it on. Whether it was done out of necessity or to preserve history - I was now the lucky owner of this cloth and I studied it for days! The turkey red paisley - found on both sides of the quilt underneath the original quilt:
To the best of my knowledge, this turkey red paisley seems to be French and anything similar I found in my textile books dates from 1810-1820. They also manufactured similar prints in England around 1850 - but the detail on this print, and the dye colors make me think it is French. I am not sure about the patchwork top - it looks American to me and quite a bit later. So did this quilt travel from France to America? Who knows...but I have really enjoyed taking it apart piece by piece and trying to put it all back together again...if only quilts could talk! Here are the four pieces that came off of the quilt:
Any ideas or comments as to what this quilt might be? I would love more information about these fabrics so I can continue to put this quilted story together!