Flour Sacks – and More! – Quilt
My poor husband has been suffering from cabin fever, due to being stuck at home while recuperating from shoulder surgery, during weeks and weeks of rain. He is able to work from home, but he can’t do any of his usual renovation or gardening projects, and it is driving him crazy. Saturday was cool and overcast, not inviting weather to be out and about, but he couldn’t stand it any more, and decided we should head to town and see what was going on.
You’d think he would learn, that when he takes me to town, textiles will surely find me and follow me home!
This time, we went into some new (to us, anyway) antique shops, and sure enough, an interesting find was waiting for me.
I had never seen anything like this before – squares of fabric are folded into triangles, and then sewn in rows to a backing fabric, making a 3-D effect. There’s no batting, so it’s not really a quilt. I guess you could call it a bed cover.
Internet research tells me that it might be called a “pine burr” pattern, although those are usually sewn in circles. The pine burr is the official quilt pattern of Alabama! This tutorial makes me want to make one myself!
“Pineapple” or prairie points” might be a more accurate name. If you know anything about this pattern, I would love to hear from you!
It contains all kinds of fabric, from wool twills to silk and (I believe) rayon. Tucks and seams that were in the original fabrics were incorporated into the quilt as is. Many of them are flour sack prints. There are even some little ears of wheat in the prints, and the words “home” and “night”.
The bedspread is about 68 inches (170 cm) by 76 inches (190 cm) long. The fabric pieces were machine sewn in wiggly rows, about one inch apart, to four narrow strips of a heavy-duty cotton, 17 inches (43 cm) wide. Each row of triangles has two machine seams attaching it to the backing. On the top side these joins are covered with a pink floral ruffle. It looks to me as if two different people worked on it. Two of the strips have smaller pieces, more regularly sewn. The other two are a little more haphazard, and consist of mostly red, white, and blue fabrics.
The thing I love about it is the unfaded sides of the fabrics. I took a picture of the points as they appear on the surface, then flipped them and tacked them down in the opposite direction, so you can see the original colors of the prints.
The antique shop is in a house that was built in 1861. I went into it about 15 years ago, when it was still just a residence, on a historic tour, and the owners at that time collected all sorts of things, including textiles. The current owner said that this bedcover was part of the inventory that came with the house when he bought it, and other than than, he didn’t know anything about it. (This shop owner was incredibly generous with his time and knowledge, and I will have a few more posts about his collection.)
The bedcover is not pristine. There are brittle, sticky strips on the back, as if someone put stick-on Velcro strips on it at one time, and it feels like there is starch in it, too. But most of the individual fabrics are in good shape.
I am not sure if I will actually display it, but I do know I will find lots of inspiration in those fabrics, both the faded and the fresh.
If you have any advice on its care, I would love to hear from you too!
What an interesting find! Do you have any idea how old it might be? Or who made it? I imagine it must have taken a fair amount of time to cut, fold, and stitch all those little triangles of fabric!
I am guessing 1930s to 1950s based on the fabrics. I was hoping there would be a Flour Sack Pattern Database online, so I could hunt for the patterns to find out, but I have not found one.
I am also guessing it came from right here in Montgomery, Texas. This is a little old town, started in the 1830s, that has never had much going on in the way of booms or tourism. I would love to find out more!
Isn’t that cool?! I’ve never seen anything like it either but I can see why you’re fascinated. And the fact that you can compare the faded and unfaded fabrics make it super interesting. It must weight a ton!
Shoot! I was hoping you’d say, “Oh, I’ve seen three like that and here is how you should clean it…”
I am thinking that when the weather gets nice, I will soak it in a big tub and change the water several times, and then let it dry flat. I don’t think that will hurt it and I really want to get that dusty starch out of there!
You probably know this but, since that fabric is going to be fragile, line the inside of your tub with a strong sheet. Then use the sheet to lift the water-logged quilt out of the water, like a sling, so the weight of the water doesn’t all fall on the old fabric and stress it. I’ve read that tip over and over and have tried it–seems to help!
I’m totally fascinated by this find (thanks for sharing the faded vs the brighter views)!!!! I remember years ago covering Styrofoam eggs/wreaths for seasonal home dec items. Thanks so much for the share and links!!!!!!! It is a stash buster technique but, for me, ranks with making yo-yos!!!!! Not me!!!! LOL!!!! Sounds like a great antique shop you’ve found!
Yes, I have two Christmas ornaments my grandmother made with that technique! I was thinking of maybe making a Christmas wreath wall hanging, but just flat, on muslin, not trying to do something curvy like those Styrofoam wreaths.
I was thinking that this would be a great quick technique for someone like me who is precision-challenged! 🙂 We’ll see!
Maybe you should call it an armadillo quilt – appropriate for Texas.
Ooh, you got me thinking! Take 2 1/2 inch strips, stitch tucks vertically, then arrange them and stitch the bands together horizontally – now that would look like an armadillo!
!!! What a fun find! Exciting.
I was strong and walked away from an ordinary vintage quilt in another shop, but I really felt I needed to be responsible for this one’s future. 🙂 There is a collection at the University of Texas of all things flour sack, and I will pass it on to them some day if they are interested in it.
That was interesting……….I have literally TONS of these squares, 2 1/2 inches, all polyester and used to make rugs. They were sewn in strips and then sewn on backing.
Don’t think to ask how I acquired this PILE………..I can take a picture but not sure how to send it. Let me think on it…..
My email is texasstorm at outlook dot com if you want to email it.
This one is pretty heavy already – I’m not sure if you’d even be able to lift a whole blanket made of polyester (if they’re the heavy knits I’m thinking of), but you could do a table runner or a pillow!
It is very … siren. As in Greek mythology. Only this one is singing me into a creative collision. I’m thinking this technique would make a fabulous stole for Pentecost, red/orange/yellow pseudo flames. What a great thing to rescue.
Ooh, I hope you get a chance to do it!
So far, I have printed out a picture of the triangles (on cloth), and I am planning to sew some decorative stitches all over the lines – my own version of cheater cloth, because I doubt I will ever piece actual triangular pieces.
I’ll let you know if I do.
What a great find and a great rescue. I made a vest several years ago and added prairie points at a couple of places, just to prove I could do it. There might be somewhere between 12 and 18 on that thing. Looking at your rug/blanket makes me dizzy to think of all the hours it took to make all those points!
Well, since I think there were two of them working on it, I am picturing them sitting together and whooping it up over the antics of the neighbors, so I bet they were happy hours!
OK, here are some of the strips, each row is sewn in a different direction. Not sure if this makes any sense or not! But the Pine Burr quilt is very intriguing…too bad all my strips are polyester but do I have colours or what!!!And I was given an OLD quilt top and it is Airing……..someone was smoking ARGH Thank you for this post,Susan
While there is tea there is hope!
Outstanding!!! Don’t forget patience for the love of one’s gift. Be Blessed, Mtetar
The quilt is a lovely reminder to have patience!
It surely is. Be Blessed, Mtetar
Oh so glad you rescued that quilt…what a find and you just imagine how long it took one, two or more individuals to piece that quilt! I’ve not seen a whole quilt made like that so have no idea where to search. Washing it will be a trick as I bet some of those fabrics are becoming brittle and ready to break apart. That fading of the materials reminds me of a pattern where you actually use the reverse side of fabrics to obtain a different look. Love your find.
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my great grandmother made a quilt like this for my mom and dad for their wedding. she was from Alabama. I was told she made several of them. I am making one right now from her old pattern that I found I will let you know how it turns out, if you want?
Yes! That would be great!