97 1/2" x 100 1/2"
MSU Museum Accession 2001:158.2
Photo by Mary Whalen, all rights reserved by MSU Museum
The design of this quilt, a circular star with radiating points, is similar
to that of compasses used by mariners, hence the name. Also known as "Sunburst"
or "Sunflower," the design has long been used in patchwork;
an English example dates to 1726 and American versions to ca. 1830. This
quilt contains twenty-five 15-inch-square "Mariner's Compass"
An outstanding example of trapunto (a style of stuffed work and corded
quilting) and intricate hand piecing, this textile features quilted designs
of grapes, wreaths, tulips, roses, leaves, and other foliage. When cotton
thread became less expensive and more widely available in the first quarter
of the nineteenth century, quilt styles incorporating more extensive use
of thread became more popular.
The quilt's donor, Kitty Clark Cole, purchased the piece in the Shenandoah
Valley of Virginia. The quilt is in mint condition, with pencil lines
still visible in the places where the quilting designs are marked.
By Mary Worrall, excerpted from American
Quilts from Michigan State University Museum.