Quilt Patterns Through Time

Doll & Baby Medallion Quilts Post Colonial Early 19th Century

medallion doll quilt
"Throughout most of the 19th century children were viewed as miniature adults. It is logical, then, that children's quilts would be miniatures of traditional full size quilts…"     "Treasure or Not" 1

You will notice that the doll quilt pattern offered here is not for a cradle or trundle bed but for a 4 poster bed, an adult style bed. Yes, little 4 poster doll beds were made. Dolls too, were seen as miniature adults.

Early 19th Century Quilts

It will come as a surprise to many people that quilts were rarely made during Colonial times. Quilt making was not common until many years later when production of fabrics in American factories relieved women from the tasks of spinning and made fabric more affordable.

In addition the quilts that were made looked far different than the pieced quilts we imagine. In fact very few quilts were made with pieced blocks before 1840. Typically quilts in the years after the American Revolutionary War were made in the medallion style.

What is a Medallion Quilt?

Medallion quilts have a large central area. The center was surrounded by two or more borders. Occasional borders were plain but usually pieced or appliqued borders were included. Some exquisite medallion quilts had several borders each one unique.

Sometimes centers was simply a solid piece of fabric, usually a large print or perhaps a toile or tree of life. Others were embroidered or appliqued to give the center added interest. The quilting design could also bring attention to the center.

Early Pieced Star Patterns

Sometimes a large pieced star or a set of stars was featured in the center. Stars appear to be among the earliest pieced patterns. More often they were used in the borders around the medallion center.

medallion crib quilt
Baby and Doll Medallion Quilt

The medallion quilt patterns I've designed for you are easy to make yet will give you a sense of what a woman or child might have made during the first quarter of the 19th century. First you must imagine you are part of a well to do family. Most people could not afford lovely imported fabric nor the leisure time for quilt making.

This quilt is a simple one with a large central fabric square in the center surrounded by borders with very little piecing. I designed the doll quilt to be used on a four poster doll bed. If you prefer you can fill in the bottom corners for a square quilt.

Lovely Fabrics to Choose From

The joy in this project is that you will be able to explore the fantastic array of reproduction fabrics that are typical of those imported in the latter 18th century and the early 19th century.

Toiles With Scenes of Children

Eileen Trestain describes toiles as pictorial fabrics, "featuring events of the period or classical literature scenes." 2 Many were pastoral scenes like the one in this doll quilt. Toiles were produced in both France and England.

Toiles would have been costly so a doll quilt would have used some small amount of fabric left over from another project. For this reason it would have been rare that the center could have been cut so carefully to show the scene of the farm boy like the example at the top of this page does. But we can fussy cut for our project if we wish. Perhaps our baby or child lived in an particularly wealthy family. 

I used a toile on the 4 poster bed doll quilt I made and on the EQ5 drawing of the blue crib quilt. The doll bed toile is from the "Monticello Collection" while the toile for the baby crib quilt is from "A Season of Toiles". There are links to this fabric at the end of this article. Look around in local shops and on the Internet, you can find some delightful toiles with children pictured in them.

medallion crib quilt
Large and Small Scale Prints

Large scale prints, often floral, were also used in centers and borders of medallion quilts. Small prints were available as well and were frequently used in the pieced borders. The medallion crib quilt example shown to the right includes both large and small prints. It also shows the rectangle version.

Below you will find links to reproduction fabric that you can look over in deciding what you would like to use for your doll or crib quilt. Your local fabric stores may have some reproductions of these early fabrics as well.

Instructions for Cutting, Assembly and Quilting

Now go to the

including the cutting & sewing instructions.
I also give some different suggestions for quilting this project.

2 p73 & 1 p74 Treasure or Not: How to Compare and Value American Quilts, by Stells Rubin

2 p13 "Dating Fabrics: A Color Guide 1800 - 1960", by Eileen Jahnke Trestain

Related Websites:
Reproduction Fabric Review: A Season of Toiles
Enjoy viewing and learning about these reproduction toiles

ReproductionFabrics.com:1775-1825, Turn Of The 18th Century Fabrics
An online shop with reproduction fabric including "A Season of Toiles".

Toiles from Sunshine Sewing Company
This has the "Monticello Collection" toile I used in the doll quilt but it's blue.

Early America's Medallion Quilts With Multiple Borders
More history on medallion quilts and examples of quilt borders for them.

Colonial Women ~ Quilters or Not?
Learn more about colonial life and quilting.