Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New England Comforter

Detail of fabric and ties from my NE Comforter
In September I attended the American Quilt Study Group's annual seminar.  This year the annual seminar was held in Milwaukee.  I filled my schedule with three full days of quilt study.

Besides the special exhibits, bed turnings and study quilts there are tours and study centers.  One of the study centers I thoroughly enjoyed was, "New England Comforters:  From the Homely to the Elegant" by Lorie Chase.

 I thought I had one in my collection, as I inspected it after returning home - I was right!

Scrappy, planned arrangement
AQSG Study Center Description:

"Comforters showed up in New England estate inventories in the late 18th century and increased in popularity in the 19th century.  They graced milady's boudoir in the 20th century and became dreaded wedding gift from aunties by mid-century.  Based on a survey of early estate inventories, focused discussion, and analysis of a collection of comforters participants will place comforters in the bedding context and explore their materials, workmanship, use, aesthetics, ownership and value.  Together we will better understand their place in quilt history"

This is a picture of a portion of my New England comforter.
Most obvious at first is the planned color arrangement.  A scrappy, yet thoughtfully arranged and creative comforter.

Fabric and tie detail 

On closer examination, once you get past the wonderful early fabrics, note the color of ties change - in a secondary design element.  It is tied with knots to the front with blue and white wool yarn.
My comforter is in like new condition.  Perhaps in cold New England winters it was sandwiched between layers of bedding - protecting it from wear?
After sharing photos of my comfort with Lorie, she has this exact fabric in one of her comforters.

Shadowy picture - the comforter is really pristine, filled with great fabrics

My example is made to accomodate a four poster bed.  In this photo, the comforter is folded in half.

The nothches allow for the coverlet to drape around the bottom bed posts, rather than bunch up at the corners.

It has deep drop (approx. 24") to still cover the sides of the bed once the sleepers are in bed.  The solids still retain their original glaze.  The maker used many scraps and creatively made it all work.

I have several four poster style quilts in my collection.

I also have a four poster bed in one of the guest rooms - so nice to dress the bed in an antique quilt or comforter.  Years ago I bought a hand tied canopy for the bed.  It had finials to use without the canopy frame.

Rows of ties by color

In the study center, after the presentation,  we broke into small groups and spent time with numerous comforters and examined them up close, hand on.

Using what we learned - we made informal presentations to the group with our assigned example.  The small group I was in had an early example with glazed chintz.  Even the back had been pieced with early chintz examples.

As other groups presented their examples we saw; cottons, velvets, wools and silks.  All tied, numerous edge finishes, creative layouts and piecing, backs that could be fronts - or was the front the back?

Great discussion ensued and much was learned.
I was so engrossed I didn't take any pictures.
I am happy I had an example to share with you.

Have a great week!
If you have a tied comforter please leave a comment and tell us all about it.


  1. None in my collection, but yours is a real gem. The colors are so vibrant.

  2. A very interesting post! I love that green fabric in the 9 patch :0)

  3. Your posts are always so interesting!! I loved seeing the close ups of your comforter so I can just imagine how much you enjoyed sounding time with some at the study group. Thanks as always for sharing your information and insight with us.

  4. I have none of a vintage nature. I made some when I first started piecing quilts and knew I wouldn't have time to hand quilt them, but they aren't from New England and are not yet even half a century old. : )
    You must have quite the collection!

  5. I'd love to go to one of these someday. I used to belong to the group when it first started but then dropped out. It's developed so much!

  6. How interesting! I just love the fabrics in your comforter - that green print, in the 3rd picture looks very interesting. I would love to follow you around on your quilty adventures and also to see your collection! Fun!

  7. What a great quilt and the fabric is wonderful!

  8. Your quilt is in such great condition. Those fabrics look like new. Neat that you found one in your collection.


Thanks for your comments!