January 20, 2015

Capital T and Cuba

The name of this block is Capital T.  The quilt was purchased in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, about 30 years ago.

The name "Lee" appears on the quilt in several places, and it's dated 1896.  I always love a dated quilt, because it's a window into patterns and colors available in that era.  Well actually, it's a window into that era and the ones before, because quilts were so often made out of scrap baskets, many of them quite deep


Where this gets particularly fun is the fabric with crossed flags.  One is obviously the US flag.  The other, as near as I can tell, is the Cuban flag.  

This is incredibly interesting!  My little bit of research shows that America began to pledge support of the Cuban rebels fighting for independence from Spain in .... 1896!  The US and Spain actually declared war in 1898.

Given recent political events, this quilt and the story it tells become even more fun!

As for the repairs:

 Choosing fabrics to patch the worn spots was sometimes pretty easy, in these two blocks for example.

Some choices were a bit trickier, for example, trying to find something for this plaid in brown and soft red.  The tan fabric with tiny woven colors at the bottom of the photo was close, but pretty pale.  The tan and red print on the left was too golden.  I bought it for, and have used it, in 1860s era quilts.  But it's not so good here, a few decades later.

I ended up choosing a brown on tan leaf print.  It looked very similar in color and texture to a different fabric in the quilt.  Sometimes that is the best way to go - have the fabric coordinate with the overall color mix on the quilt instead of with the specific fabric being patched.

Here's a Miracle Moment.  The quilt had been repaired at some earlier point in its life.  In this block, just one triangle had needed help then, but now two more were splitting.  And guess what, I have the exact same patching fabric on my shelf!  (This actually then dates the repairs, since I think I bought this fabric in the 1980s.)

Interestingly, some of the earlier repairs were done by patching on one large piece over the whole T.  I chose to patch according to the original piecing, with one large, and five small triangles.  That avoided appliquéing inside corners.  I figured it wasn't too much extra stitching, since many of the edges were overlapped by other triangles.

So there it is - a combination of historical document and fabric miracle!

For those of you who are really into fabric history, here are photos of some of the fabrics.  While you're enjoying all the Ts, don't forget to examine the delicate shirting print in the background white.

The black and white check is printed, not woven.

The tomato soup red T is one of those that used to have a black or brown print, which is now a regular pattern of little holes due to the corrosive dyes of the era.

The brown stripe on the left is woven and textural.

I love this moss green one on the right.  But then, I always like a good green!

Check out the "dated quilts" tag for more tours of quilts with inscribed dates.  


  1. Thank you for the interesting tour of time and fabric. Cuba's current flag has strips in the field outside the triangle, but that may be more recent than 1896.

    Looking at the photo of the quilt I was trying to figure out the quilting pattern. I was able to enlarge it on feedly but I still couldn't decide. Is it a zig-zag pattern across several blocks? The quilting seems sometimes to change directions sometimes.

    Your repairs are perfect!

  2. About stripes on Cuba's flag: I searched for "flag triangle star" and this was closest, minus the stripes of course. What I've found so far says that the flag always had stripes. My guess is either that the stripes were left off the fabric because the space is too small, or that I am totally wrong. Maybe it was a regimental flag or something like that.

    The Puerto Rican flag is the same design with red and blue reversed. But the history online has it being developed later than the date on this quilt.

    About the quilting: As I recall (already a month in the past and already getting fuzzy....), the quilting is what is sometimes called Baptist Fan - concentric quarter circles. The corners you see are where one fan bumps into the one below.

    The quilting shows a bit better on this quilt: http://annquiltsblog.blogspot.com/2014/06/scrappy-bow-tie-quilt.html

    Thanks for writing, and thanks for the great compliment. Once I found that previous patch with a fabric I already owned, I knew this quilt and I were going to be great friends. :-)