By any chance did you count how many fabrics are included in the Tumbling Star quilt I posted on 13 January 2011? I have tried many times only to loose count when one, two, three, or more fabrics capture my attention. Clearly this quilt maker had either a very deep scrap bag or lots of friends with fabrics to share. Throughout this quilt there are too many fabrics to post them all so I will share just a couple of my favorites with you here . . .
My top favorite fabric is a print that includes a single calendar month. The print is faded but information contained in the calendar can still be identified. Barely visible faded pink letters at top of the calendar read 'JULY'. By looking at the days of the week we see July 4, 11, 18, and 25 were Mondays. The lunar cycle printed at the bottom of the calendar indicates there was a full moon on July 11. There is nothing visible to say what year the calendar is from. Sooo..., I did a little research. I first visited the NASA website to look for years the moon was full on July 11. I then compared that very short list to calendars for those years to see which July 11ths were Mondays.
I discovered that the only year throughout the 19th century that there was a full moon in the northern hemisphere on Monday, July 11 was 1881.
From 1800 through 2025, the only other time July 11 fell on a Monday AND there was a full moon was in 1938, approximately 48 years after the circa 1890 date of this Tumbling Star quilt.
That solves one of the mysteries about this quilt and creates another. What about July 1881 was significant enough to warrant printing the calendar on fabric? That is a question to be explored another day - perhaps when more of this fabric has been located and can be studied for more clues.
Another favorite fabric is this 19th century patchwork print more commonly referred to as 'cheater cloth.' From a distance it appears that these diamonds have been pieced to be diamonds. In fact, that is the key feature of patchwork prints. They appear to be pieced (or appliqued) but in fact are printed on one piece of cloth to fool the eye.
Patchwork prints eliminate the need to piece or applique a quilt top, or a section of a quilt. Sometimes the use is quite clever when the cloth is fussy cut to create the look of a pieced section of a quilt like a border.
I admire the way the quilt maker featured the dog and cat within these two diamond pieces.
While I have seen large pieces of patchwork prints on the backs of quilts, I see them most frequently used within traditional pieced quilts as was done in this Tumbling Star quilt.
I find the variety of patchwork prints and their uses in antique quilts fascinating. There seems to be so much yet to be discovered about them. If you are interested in learning more check out Deborah E. Kraak's research paper presented at the American Quilt Study Group's annual seminar in September 2011. Deborah's paper, 'Patchwork Prints in America: 1878 to 1900" is some of the best information I have read on this topic. If you missed her presentation in person, as I did, you can read the printed version published in Uncoverings 2011: Volume 32 of the Research Papers of the American Quilt Study Group" currently available at http://www.americanquiltstudygroup.org/publications.asp.
To keep you from getting bored I will finish this post here. I promise, if you are interested, to share more of the fabrics from this Tumbling Star quilt in future posts.