Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Two-Generation Quilt

"This Quilt was entirely the work of my grandmother
 as far as the plain borders. I finished it in 1815
 and leave it to my Rosebud. E. P. Custis." 

This note is attached to the Washington/Custis quilt in the Smithsonian's collection. Rosebud was Eliza Parke Custis's daughter, also Eliza.

Quilt top begun by Martha Dandridge Custis Washington
and finished by her granddaughter Eliza Parke Custis,
about 1780 to 1815.
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Martha started it, perhaps in the 1780s, and she left it unfinished at her death in 1802. Her granddaughter Eliza finished the top in 1815, so it spans our time period.

Plan for a 104" x 104" square quilt

Center = 24" x 24"
Seven Borders
A = 5" Plain striped fabric with brown cornerstones
B = 3" Plain pinkish fabric with brown cornerstones
C = 6" Appliqued with circles and ovals
D = 6" Pieced of striped fabrics
E = 7" Plain foulard print with circles in cornerstones
F = 6" Mitered swag print
G = 7" Mitered foulard print
The Center Square Finishes to 24" x 24"

Begin with  a central field of circles finishing to 12" square. (Martha loved circles!)
She appliqued hers, so you need four dark circles finishing to 3" and 1 full medium brown circle plus 4 half circles and 4 quarter circles. Applique these to a background cut 12-1/2" x 12-1/2"
You could also piece these circles, which is how I drew the central focus in EQ7.

Here's the block which has to finish to 3 inches.
Click on this picture; print it at 3" square.

Framing the Central Field (This isn't the same proportions as Martha's but the math is easier)
The first dark frame 1 finishes to 1" wide and 14" square.
Cut 2 dark strips 1-1/2" x 12-1/2" and 2 dark strips 1-1/2" x14-1/2".
And 4 medium corner squares 1-1/2" x 1-1/2".

The second light frame finishes to 1-1/2" wide and 17" square.
Cut 2 light strips 2" x 14" and and 2 light strips 2" x 17-1/2"

For the corner triangles cut squares 6-7/8" x 6-7/8"
Cut 2 brown and 6 pink squares and cut in half diagonally to make 4 brown and 12 pink triangles

Border A---5"
For Border A framing the central patchwork Martha used a stripe left over from one of her dresses. Martha loved stripes.

It seems to be a brown serpentine stripe with another stripe of dots printed across it.
Find a stripe and cut
4 strips 5-1/2" x 24-1/2"
4 medium brown print cornerstones 5-1/2" x 5-1/2"
With this border the top should finish to 34".

Border B---3"
This plain border is pieced of a pink and white stripe with a little floral trail across it.
Cut 4 strips 3-1/2" x 34-1/2".
Cut 4 medium brown cornerstones 3-1/2" x 3-1/2".
With this border the top should finish to 40".

Border C---6"
Border C is plain white cotton with appliqued circles and ovals. This border finishes to 6" so cut 12 circles finishing to 4". Then cut 4 oval shapes from a toile to feature an image. These ovals should be about 4" tall by 5" wide.
Applique these to 4 white strips and cornerstones.
Cut 4 strips 6-1/2" x 40-1/2".
And 4 cornerstones 6-1/2" x 6-1/2".
With this border the top should finish to 52".

Border D---6"
Border D is pieced of rectangles cut from stripes and each border has a pieced block in the center. At 6" I've made this border narrower than Martha's.

This block is also the basic structure of the center of the quilt. I haven't seen a published name for the block so I think we should call it "Lady Washington's Favorite" (I'm drawing it in as number 2403.5 in my copy of the Encylcopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.) 
Martha pieced the blocks out of two different stripes and one small print. You might want to use a little more contrast and a little less stripe.

For each of the 6" finished blocks (Do this 4 times) 

Center square: cut a striped fabric 4-3/4"
Corners: Cut 2 dark and 6 medium dark squares 2-3/8". Cut each in half with a single diagonal cut. You need 4 dark and 12 medium dark triangles.

You then need to piece these blocks into a border. Each border strip should finish to 52". You have 23" on either side of the squares so you'll need two rectangles to fill this area. Note how Martha used stripes.
Cut 8 rectangles for the ends 6-1/2" x 10-1/2".
Cut 8 rectangles 6-1/2" x 13-1/2"
 For the cornerstones cut 4 squares 6-1/2" x 6-1/2".
With this border the top should finish to 64".

Border E---7"

This is a plain border of a dark foulard print (diagonally set figure) with appliqued striped circles in the cornerstones.
Cut 4 strips 7-1/2" x 64-1/2".
Cut 4 white squares 7-1/2" x 7-1/2" for the cornerstones.
Cut 4 circles finishing to 5" to applique.
With this border the top should finish to 78".

Border F---6"

This Quilt was entirely the work of my grandmother
 as far as the plain borders. I finished it...

I am guessing Eliza added Borders F and G. This one is mitered rather than finished with square cornerstones. 
For F find a gorgeous swag printed chintz or toile. You need 2-2/3 yards.
Cut 4 strips 6-1/2" x 90-1/2" 
With this border the top should finish to 90".

Border G---7"
The final border is another dark foulard print (3 yards).
Cut 2 strips 7-1/2" x 90-1/2" for the sides.
Cut 2 strips 7-1/2" x 104-1/2" for the top and bottom.
With this border the top should finish to 104".

I hope the math is right. If you think I have miscalculated let me know.

1 comment:

Becky in VA said...

This quilt is truly a national treasure. Those circles and stripes give it such uniqueness!

I wish I had time to make all the quilts I WANT to make - this would be on my wishlist!