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The Clarke Family Quilt Collection

Embroidered Girl's Quilt
Emilie Clarke
Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan
69 1/4" x 81 7/8"
MSU Museum Accession 6119.13
Photo by Fumio Ichikawa, all rights reserved by the MSU Museum

For a pair of children's quilts, Emilie Clarke pieced squares featuring outline-embroiderd pictorial images. This quilt, known by the family as the "Girl'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.

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