Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Quilts Made by 19th-Century British Soldiers Are Threaded With Mystery

ANNETTE GERO COLLECTION/AMERICAN FOLK ART MUSEUM

During the second half of the 19th century, recovering British soldiers made intricate quilts out of thick woolen felt. These “convalescence quilts” were comprised of thousands of tiny triangles and squares in rich primary colours with the outlines of jacket pockets, and even buttonholes worked into the blankets. There are many myths about how these military quilts were made.

ANNETTE GERO COLLECTION/AMERICAN FOLK ART MUSEUM

Rumour had it that these quilts were made by soldiers as they convalesced in bed. But the only evidence that any soldiers stitched in bed is a single 1856 painting of Private Thomas Walker. It is not clear whether the scraps they used came from the discarded uniforms of fallen comrades or were offcuts from military tailors’ workshops. Recent examination reveals that none of the fabrics show signs of having seen the gore of the battlefield. The true story of how these quilts were made may never be known.

Read more: Atlas Obscura

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