The quilt was made in the mid to late 1800s, maybe 1860s or 1870s. It sustained some damage at some point in its life that faded out the center block but left the fabrics mostly intact.
The owner was contemplating having me patch the center block to bring some color back to it. I found myself wanting to leave the block as is though. It certainly would be possible to patch over the old fabrics and put some more color back into the area, but of course I wouldn’t be able to make a perfect match. Searching for enough of just the right vintage green could be a long adventure. And new fabrics, even new vintage fabrics, will likely be different in texture. So it becomes a question of which is more visually distracting in the long run, plus how important it would be to maintain the original workmanship. I saw one leaf that looked like it was missing some fabric, and I could have done some stitching in that spot to hold the raw edge down. In the end, after we discussed all this, I did nothing.
The owner was kind enough to let me share her photos here. Thanks to her for that! This quilt is a real treat.
The variation in the coloration on the leaves is likely due to the dye process used. Before there were real green dyes, the only way to get green was by over dyeing blue and yellow, aptly known as a two-step green. Sometimes there is uneven fading that results in some blueish and some yellowish places. What’s curious to me are the baskets and the inner petals of the flower buds that are tan. That color is often what happens to the very early actual green dyes when they faded, which they tended to do very quickly. So this may be a quilt that sits right on the border between the two dye processes! That would date it to the 1870s. Pretty cool.
The flowers themselves are made with what is known as a double pink - a style that was very popular from the mid 1800s through the first quarter of the 1900s.
And then there's that wonderful quilting! Tiny, tiny stitches. I love how the quilting echoes the appliqué pattern.
The tight background filler lets those flower baskets pop forward as if they were trapunto.
I'll end as I started - oh, my!