If You wish to take a trip around the world today, you only have to book a ticket with an airline and off you go. Paris, London, New York, Rome or Melbourne can be your destination.
To quilt makers of the grand quilt making epoch of the Thirties and Forties, a trip around the world would have been an incredible dream.
However, during this era ‘A Trip Around the World’ was made not by boat or plane but by cutting numerous tiny squares of fabrics and stitching these squares together to create quilts of great style and design. These quilts also demonstrate a sophisticated use of colour and pattern.
In Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns these two Trip Around the World designs are to be found.
My quilts represent examples of both these designs. In the book ‘The World of Amish Quilts’ by Rachael and Kenneth Pellman. The Pellmans state that this arrangement of squares was a favoured design predominantly made in Lancaster County, PA. from where it spread to other Amish settlements. The Amish call this design Sunshine and Shadows. These quilts were made in solid colours and nearly always featured at least one large border. It is also stated that ‘the squares are arranged by colour to form a series of brightly coloured expanding diamonds. Sometimes the squares are tipped on point to form a pattern of squares. The Pellmans also state the ‘the Sunshine and Shadow arrangement of squares worked in printed fabrics rather than plain, may be called Trip Around the World and is often made by non-Amish women’.
I purchased the Trip Around the World quilt from the collection of The Donnellys. They bought this quilt in Groton, Massachusetts in 1995 at The Quilt Loft from Dianne Reece. It is hand pieced and quilted. The squares measure 1 inch finished and the quilter has used a great variety of fabrics, including dimity, feedsacks, shirtings and early dress fabrics. The inclusion of the solid red and black in this quilt shows the quilt maker’s great flair for colour and design. The quilt contains 3,125 squares. The backing is a plain white homespun which displays the lovely hand quilting to great effect. The binding on this quilt is noteworthy as it is stitched around the edges of the tiny squares, creating a dainty scallop finish.
The second Trip Around the World Quilt in my collection was bought as a top from the quilt collector Jan Baker. I have basted this quilt and hope to start quilting it this year. The squares in this top are even smaller, three quarters of an inch finished. This Trip Around the World is an example of the quilt maker tipping it on point. The edges finish square so there is no fiddly binding to be done. This quilter came up with a nice border design for her quilt.
The fabrics in this quilt appear to be very well co-ordinated. The pretty, little floral patterns match up with a complimentary solid colour. On studying this quilt, I wonder if it is an early example of a kit quilt, which were available at this time. Well, I will have lots of time to examine the fabrics and think about the original quilt maker when I undertake the task of hand quilting it.
I consider myself extremely privileged to have two Trip Around the World Quilts in my collection. I hope you might be inspired to create your own, as one of my friends already has. Good Luck, Sally and Happy Stiching to you all. Janette, The Plain Needlewoman