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Feathering the Nest

Winter2000_9aThis quilt was begun in 1883 by Belle D. Grace (1850-1938) of Sandgate, Vermont. In the center she embroidered birds building a nest, perhaps to symbolize a family building a home, and nearby she placed her husband's name and a portrait of the family dog. Other women of the family contributed squares depicting favorite flowers, emblems of fishing and sewing, good luck horseshoes, and images of the cross. The older sections were hand embroidered, while some later work was done on a machine. Several squares contain fragments of garments with special significance, including a christening gown and a man's wedding vest. The quilt was finished in 1939 by Belle's daughter, Murty Marie Grace Chilton, and donated to SPNEA by her granddaughter, Isabelle Chilton.

The complex piecing and elaborate embroidery of this quilt are characteristic of a style known as "crazy," which was popularized by magazines and advertising in the 1880s. Examples often include fabrics and symbols of a commemorative nature. Quilts made from pieces worked by several individuals are called "album quilts." With references to several generations of a New England family, this quilt is a welcome addition to SPNEA's sizable holdings of furnishing textiles.

-Sonya Champion
Collections Assistant

Feathering the Nest