Embroidered Boy's Quilt
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
74" x 86"
MSU Museum Accession 6119.12
Photo by Fumio Ichikawa, all rights reserved by the MSU
For a pair of children's quilts, Emilie Clarke pieced squares featuring
outline-embroiderd pictorial images. This quilt, known by the family as
the "Boy's Quilt," features designs rendered mostly in blue
embroidery floss. When textiles with outline-embroidered designs first
came into vogue in the late nineteenth century, Turkey red, due to its
colorfastness, was the most commonly used color of floss. After World
War I, colorfast cotton embroidery threads became available in a variety
of colors. The blue color of the floss in this quilt dates the piece.
Commercially produced designs could be purchased as preprinted squares
often called "penny squares," a name derived from the cost of
the blocks. The quilter would embroider over the designs to complete their
block. The embroidered images used in this quilt include several cherubic-looking
children and both realistic animals (such as the camel, squirrel, and
elephant) and ones more whimsical (a bear driving a car and another riding
a scooter). Emilie sashed the completed blocks with blue fabric and added
a border of the same blue to complete her quilt.
By Mary Worrall, excerpted from American
Quilts from Michigan State University Museum.