Quilt Patterns Through Time

Scenes of Childhood Quilt Pattern c.1880

"It appears this sparkling little quilt was perhaps an expression of love for someone very special."   Froncie Quinn

A Child's Quilt With Three Pictorial Scenes

childhood scenesThis delightful quilt resides at the Shelburne Museum in the state of Vermont. The appliqued pictures of children and animals seem to have come from a variety of sources. The three childhood scenes seen in the center are amazing in their construction. But it couldn't have been easy to transfer these pictures to cloth. Then each piece of fabric needed to be marked and appliqued. In addition some of the details were embroidered while others like the faces were carefully drawn in ink. Beneath each scene is an amusing phrase about the picture.

The picture of the girl with the doll and the boy playing doctor might have been taken from a printed handkerchief. But it could be that the picture had been in a book or magazine as printed handkerchiefs sometimes got their pictures from other sources.

dolly is sickOne late century quilt has the actual handkerchief sewn into it. This quilt was made up of several such textiles with sashing between them. The handkerchief did not include the girl standing in the background. Perhaps two illustrations were combined by the quilt maker to create this block. 1

A delightful friendship album quilt made in 1879 had only the girl with the doll. She had been cut out of the handkerchief and appliqued onto the block. This quilt was made up of a number of fanciful images. 2

In the case of the "Scenes of Childhood Quilt" the scene is created with appliqued fabric and ink sketching. We have no way of knowing if the maker used the handkerchief for this scene or another source. The other two scenes down the middle probably came from similar sources.

Animals and Flowers

appliqued dogThe animals on each side of the quilt are more primitive in their structure except for the dog shown to the right. Appliqued animal silhouettes like these are seen on many children's quilts of this period.

The cornucopia and flowers are appliqued motifs seen since the mid 19th century in quilts including Baltimore Albums and on the borders of various quilts.

A Bit of History With the Pattern

With the "Scenes of Childhood Quilt" pattern Quinn includes some fascinating background about the quilt. You will learn about children's quilts and the view of children during the last part of the 19th century. In addition Quinn tells you about construction methods and fabrics used during this period.

Everything You could Possibly Want

Froncie Quinn creates the most complete quilt patterns I've ever seen. She starts by giving a list of all the supplies you need. They are less than you would think because she provides items not usually included in patterns.

Have you ever seen a pattern with the applique already printed on freezer paper? Well this pattern has just that. What a help it is not only by saving tracing time but by improving accuracy in such detailed applique pieces.

sketching in ink

The placement pages for each scene have a colored picture of the scene next to the placement drawing so that you can see what the final result will be like. These pages are very detailed which is important because the children's heads and hands must be inked on the background fabric before you applique.

Another great addition to Quinn's patterns is that of quilting stencils so that you can quilt using the designs found in the original. The "Scenes of Childhood Quilt" pattern is not heavily quilted and would be fun and easy to hand quilt.

The Beginning of a Child Centered Culture

Making this quilt would be a way of celebrating a wonderful change in our culture. As more children survived infancy and parents began to have a little time to just enjoy their children parental attitudes changed. By 1880 toys were made for children, books were written for them and there was much more focus on children's education and well being. If there was ever an example of this shift in our culture it's this charming quilt made to delight a child.

Find this pattern at hooplapatterns.com


1 p 154 "Small Endearments: 19th Century Quilts for Children",
by Sandi Fox

2 p 154 "For Purpose and Pleasure: Quilting Together in Nineteenth-Century America",
by Sandi Fox