Monday, August 5, 2013

Workt Exhibit - The Birds

I had the good fortune to visit the Workt by Hand exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City.
The exhibit travels to Washington DC - National Museum of Women in the Arts December 20, 2013 - April 27, 2014.

The Exhibit Catalog can be purchased HERE.

This is one of the gallery rooms with quilts.  We were so fortunate to be the only ones in the exhibit for a couple hours. I took over 1,200 photos.

For this post I'm featuring the birds.

This bird block is from a circa 1850 Album Quilt.

The quilt is hand applique and hand quilted.

The maker shows off her sewing machine with areas of machine work.

Enlarge the photo to see the red stitching around the fruit in the tree.

This block is from the same album quilt.

There is embellishment stitching around the eye, wing and body of the bird as well as in the flowers.

This block is from the circa 1795 Pictorial Quilt
(England or Ireland)

Wonderful parrot - made from multiple fabrics with embroidered details.

The mono print flower is still so vibrant after 200+ years.

Linen ground fabrics
Beautiful prints in the entire piece.

Since this piece isn't quilted, I think it would be more appropriately called a counterpane.

This is the other parrot in the piece.

Different fabrics, but the wing is still blue, even though the head went from pink to brown.

This is one of several birds in the Elizabeth Welsh Medallion Quilt (West Virginia)
circa 1830

Almost all of the applique on this quilt is reverse.
Impressive!  Several nearly identical quilts have been found.

The head of the center medallion Eagle

Double reverse applique eye with embroidery detail enhancing the eye and mouth.

Surrounding the central eagle figure are several floral arrangements that include birds.  These are also reverse applique.

This beautiful example was assembled by the maker from two or more prints.  The vessel is one print.  The contents were cut from a larger print(s) and assembled in a pleasing manner to create her arrangement.

Same quilt, again reverse applique.

In this photo you can see part of the outer borders.

Same quilt.
Reverse Applique.

The branches to the left are what the eagle talons hold from the center Eagle Medallion.  About 1/4" of less reverse applique.

This photo shows more closely how various portions of print fabrics were combined to create the "assemblage" that creates the bird/floral vessel composition.


Do you like the birds?
Are you making a quilt with birds?
What would you like to see next from Workt?  Star blocks? The fabrics?  Edge finishes?


  1. Interesting post, Dawn. Fascinating close up of our early sister quilters' works.
    I recall reading once that having an early sewing machine was kind of a status thing and so it wasn't uncommon for them to show it off by using it in obvious ways on their quilts.
    Amazing reverse applique work!

  2. I love using birds in applique and have a lot of patterns on my to do list.


  3. Nice photos. How about doing medallion quilts.

  4. Oh I just love birds in quilts! Thanks for sharing. These are wonderful!

  5. I was never a big fan of birds in appliqué but these are certainly outstanding. The way she used the fabrics and all the reverse appliqué is just beautiful. I have no preference about the order you show things. Just be sure and show it all.

  6. Love the birds. Isn't digital photography the best? Makes it so easy to take 1200 pics without a worry.

  7. Can't wait to see more! star blocks and fabrics please! I've made note of the dates this exhibit will be in DC and will be sure to visit. THanks for the info!

  8. I love birds! It has been a signature motif in most all my quilts - the sparrow to be specific.
    I love that museum and it looks like they did a wonderful job displaying the quilts!
    thanks for sharing them !

  9. Great photos and I do like birds. I have a quilt started and will be using a toile with birds.

  10. Wonderful broderie perse! And such a treat to see all the birds - all with their own vintage character! thanks so much. Any more that you can show from Workt would be very gratefully received :)

  11. A lovely post!!! I would love to see this exhibit before it moves on. Maybe I'm too late? lol! So beautiful!

  12. What an awesome experience. I'll be enjoying your photos along with everyone else.

  13. I love the birds! And I have several quilts I'm working on with birds!

  14. I love birds on quilts and these ones are wonderful. I don't mind what you show us first, I just love to see it all.

  15. Isn't that exhibition amazing? I feel so lucky to have been in New York and able to see it. My jaw was literally dropping when I saw that incredible medallion was reverse appliqued! Of course I came home with the book and want to replicate them all but I wouldn't have that sort of skill for a start :)

    Sharon in Sydney

  16. i LOVE to see birds in quilts and i LOVE to include them in my own work as well. the doll sized random sampler that i just finished had a bird appliqued square in it.

    i can hardly wait to see what you choose to show us next. you are so good at getting the beautiful details in your posts. it's always a treat.

    speaking of beautiful details: the quilting stitches within these shots were just outstanding~!!~


  17. I do like quilts with birds. Thank you for sharing. You certainly get around!

  18. I want to follow you around - you have seen some of the most amazing exhibits, and I am quite envious! The work on this quilt is just amazing. I like birds, but haven't done a lot with them. Some crows in wool applique and I have a few bird toile prints that I love. Can't wait to see more from your trip - stars, fabrics, whatever...I want to see it all!

  19. Birds are always a winner in my world, the pictures are lovely. Must have been a wonderful exhibition.

  20. I forgot to say that I would like to see it all in no specific order if that is ok?, Thank You.

  21. I know you must have been thrilled to see all these stunning quilts. I am in love with the Album quilt!

  22. I love the naive birds in the red album quilt the best. Thanks for the heads up on the book. I think I need another book case, too!

  23. I love the birds - especially their eyes. I am working on the eyes of the birds in my Bird of paradise quilt but hadn't thought of using buttonhole stitch :0) What a marvelous post - I hope you'll share more pictures!!

  24. What wonderful quilts! The basket? Stump? that the tree is on or in is such a hoot! I love these quirky things.
    I'm amazed at the reverse broderie purse? This post has a little of everything!! It's awesome!

  25. For inquiring minds...
    Broiderie Perse...appliqué or applied work with motifs cut from contrasting fabrics and sewn down....

  26. Thank you so much for sharing these. You know I love birds! And these are fabulous. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


Thanks for your comments!