Saturday, January 28, 2012

Swag Borders

Cut-out chintz quilt by Elizabeth Severson Emich
Photo copyright by the Maryland Historical Society.
I found this little-seen quilt in a Japanese catalog from the historical society.


The Baltimore Album Quilt Tradition: Maryland Historical Society
Used copies are still available at a fairly reasonable price.

We've been discussing borders of simple shapes like the triangles along the edge in the above quilt but there was also a fashion for more complex swag borders as in the inner border.

Here's a sampler of a few from about 1810.
The swag borders are among the earliest applique designs that are not cut from chintz images---conventional applique.
This chintz quilt from the Smithsonian's collection includes everything: swags with bowknot ties of conventional applique and a few cut-out chintz flowers.

Our critical eyes prefer more perfection in the swag shapes.
 It seems that many of these quilters hadn't much of a template to go by.
The sources for the design idea are obvious.


Sheraton's suggestions for cornices


Swags and bowknots were everywhere in
classical imagery and federal architecture.


1781 Fashion Plate.

See the Martha Washington/Eliza Custis quilt in the last post for a swag fabric.

Border in an American quilt thought to be from the 1770s
 in the American Museum in Bath, England, signed R. Porter


Vintage Rose
Judy Severson's updated interpretation of a swag border, 
graceful arcs tacked down by roses.

Here's a sketch of a basic swag I did for a quilt a few years ago.
Print it so the dotted line is 6" long.


Ann's Legacy: A Tribute to Ann Daggs by Di Ford
If you'd like a "real" pattern for a period swag here's Di Ford's interpretation of the Ann Daggs (Dagge) quilt in the Smithsonian. Buy the pattern here:

See some antique quilts with swag borders:

Margaret Nichols's Tree of Life in the Winterthur Museum collection:

A faded example with an inner swag border in Michigan State University's museum from the Quilt Index:

And one dated 1809 by Eliza Thompson from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum (#1997.007.0257)

3 comments:

Allison Aller said...

Love the connection between the architectural details of the period and the swag style borders in the quilts.
And I am wondering....is our Judy S. related to Elizabeth Severson Emich?

The BUTT'RY and BOOK'RY said...

WONDERFUL POST!!!
I shall be paying attention to swags in a whole new light! :-)
Thanks for another GREAT post!
Blessings, Linnie

Pamela said...

I am so enjoying your blog. I find quilt history facinating. Your articles put a new perspecive on studying quilt designs.