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Baltimore style applique quilts
Fancy flowers, baskets and swags
A fad that persisted in the 1980s in Brisbane, Australia, was making Baltimore style applique quilts
At that time there were a couple of tutors who were teaching a quilt in this style to their students. Every quilt show had a couple of these, almost identical, with perhaps a slight colour variation here and there.
I used to say that I had a recurring nightmare that I would be asked to judge a quilt exhibition in which there were 50 swagged applique quilts on one side of the hall and 50 Giant Dahlia quilts hung down the other side!
I decided to do something about this and began my 'Basket of Fancy Flowers' classes.
The image is a block from album software by Electric Quilt
Unique designs for my students
In the Basket of Fancy Flowers classes, students learned all the many fancy applique techniques seen in the Baltimore style quilts from the 1800s, but only made one basket block.
They could choose a basket from the many patterns that were available for these quilt blocks, and then we explored as many techniques as we could, to produce our fancy flowers sampler — for that's what it was.
My reasoning was that they could then design a Baltimore style quilt using these techniques, but that their quilts would be unique and not clones of each other.
Baltimore Album Quilts
a timeless tradition
Baltimore Album Quilts originated in Baltimore, Maryland in the 1840s. They have become one of the most popular quilt styles and are still made today.
These quilts are made up of a number of blocks, each block appliquéd with a different design, which were often floral as in the reproduction block pattern shown here.
Many other motifs are also used, such as eagles and landmarks, bibles, sailing ships, people...
History of the album quilt
quilts of blocks made by many
In the beginning, these quilts of appliquéd blocks were often designed by the maker. In time, patterns by accomplished designers were used.
As the community of Baltimore was quite prosperous in the mid-nineteenth century, Baltimore Album quilts reflected this, as most were made with purchased new fabric.
Fabric prints were especially produced in multi-coloured 'wavy' designs, popular for the woodwork on ships' hulls, and for realistic birds. These prints were vibrant, and were snapped up eagerly by the society women of the day.
As the popularity of this quilt style grew, women far beyond Baltimore began making these album quilts.
Most Baltimore Album quilts were signed with the maker's or by the donor of the fabric for the block. The discovery of an indelible ink (India ink) made it possible to ink flowery poetry and sayings in beautiful script, together with a signature on each block.
It appears making these quilts were especially popular with young women, and were special quilts called presentation quilts.
Many of the blocks in these quilts were made by different people, who wanted to help in the making of the gift quilt.
Album Quilt websites
- Baltimore album quilts - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Baltimore Album Quilts In the 1850s Baltimore was a major center for commerce. Many fabrics were available to this area that were not available in other parts of the country. This may explain why these quilts sprang up in this area. The availability
- Baltimore Album Quilt: The Finest of Autograph Sampler Quilts
The Baltimore Album, a quilt style that originated in the prosperous seaport city of Baltimore, Maryland in the 1840s then spread across the country.
- Baltimore Album : All About Applique
- Baltimore Album Quilts on Pinterest | Baltimore, Quilt Festival and Album
Vintage and modern quilts and blocks including patterns for hand applique | See more about Baltimore, Quilt Festival and Album.
The doyen of this style - is Elly Sienkiewicz
You can go on retreat with Elly and have a ball.
Classic Album Quilt Applique on Amazon
The wonderful patterns and techniques of Elly are a treat to read and learn from. Her research is impeccable, while the galleries of quilts are fabulous to see. Love this book, and the next volume.
The Basket Quilt
How it came to be
Renoir style 'arty' wallhanging
that's what the plan was!
Selecting a hand-dyed fabric of Tina Sutton's in a murky blue-grey and rust, I had this notion of a Renoir background behind the flowers. It was to be a small wall hanging, not a large quilt.
I started the applique in Brisbane in 1990, and finished the quilt in 2004, at Somerset Park, near Maitland.
Instead of a block with a basket of flowers, it now has pieced baskets around it and borders on borders. I really am pleased with the end result, though.
A long WIP! (Work-in-progress.) I don't have UFOs. (Un-Finished Objects.)
That's me dressed in Colonial costume at a festival in Brisbane in 1991, stitching some of the flowers down.
The centre of the medallion - the basket of fancy flowers
Some of the Basket Quilt's fancy flowers - Ruched chrysanthemums, folded roses
Broderie perse applique - another popular style of the time
Motifs are cut from floral prints and applied to the quilt block.
The popular use for this technique was for birds cut from printed fabric.
Rick-rack flowers and ruched ribbon
The rick-rack braid is gathered in V's along its length, pulled up and arranged into flowers.
Detail of a folded rosebud - with its whiskers embroidered
Often, these details were drawn in India ink, an indelible ink from The Orient.
Album Quilt software on Amazon
I reviewed this software for The Electric Quilt Company in my column, Computer Quilts. Great to use, and the wealth of design and pattern is well worth the (reasonable) price tag.
My column is in Down Under Quilts magazine
More block patterns - From Classic Applique Baltimore Album software
Plaited handle - on the basket
And the Base
Blocks with squares of scraps - Square in a Square and Four Patch blocks
Scrap Basket block - made using paper foundation piecing
Borders of patchwork baskets - flowers on prints in these baskets
All the baskets are different plaid fabrics; a toile print in the top half of each scrap basket block gives the illusion of a dark border.
Many borders in rounds
Squares on point, four patch blocks,
Square in a Square blocks, plain fabric borders, Jinny Beyer print borders, a toile print in the top half of each scrap basket block, makes a mock border.
You can see effect of this darker 'border' inside the cream on point squares in the second last border.
All to complete what is now a medallion quilt, not a small wall hanging.
It does hang on the wall in our bedroom, even so.
We have recently moved our room around and it is to hang in pride of place directly opposite the door into the room, where it can be seen in all its beauty.
The Basket Quilt - Double bed size 1990 - 2004
The design in EQ - an early version of the quilt design programme
© 2009 Jan T Urquhart Baillie