June 4, 2013

Bear's Paw Quilt

I did some patching of worn spots on this quilt, and mended an area with a hole through all three layers.  But that's not why I decided to write about it.  I just really, really like this quilt.  To my eyes, it's a totally successful design.  

Sometimes, to help myself learn what makes a successful quilt design, I like to play this little game.  I imagine how the quilt might look if the borders were different, or if it was not bordered at all, or if the blocks were set differently, or if the coloring was changed.  I can't find any changes that would improve this quilt for me.  When that happens, I know I've found a quilt I really like.

To begin with, this style of sashing has always been a favorite of mine.  This quilter used it to perfection.  I like the rhythm created between the bear's paw blocks and the little 9-patches at the intersections.  The solid paws are balanced by the lighter openness of the 3-stripe sashing.  The blocks and sashing are in just the right proportion to one another.  I like that the border repeats the 3 stripes of the sashing, but without the 9-patches, related but still creating an edge that contains the energy of the design.  The clear, two-color palette plays up this great design to the fullest.

Figuring a date for a solid color quilt like this pretty much always has a large range.  The color and the style were both popular for a long time.  It could easily have been made anywhere between 1890 (or earlier) and 1920.  Something about the feel of it in my hand makes me want to place it in the 20th century.  

I did the repairs with the wonderful reproduction turkey red fabric I found and bought so much of when I was repairing a redwork Peter Pan quilt.  I'm so glad my investment in such a huge hunk of that fabric is coming in handy.  

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