Southern Quilts from the Kathlyn Sullivan Collection

Southern Quilts from the Kathlyn Sullivan Collection

southern quilt detail

Today, quilt collectors and aficionados know the bright, yellow-orange fabrics that were staples of late nineteenth-century quilts as “cheddar.” The color became especially prevalent in the parts of the United States that were settled by German immigrants: southeastern Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. 

Quilts from these areas share the colors and motifs of German folk art, but Southern quiltmakers favored particular elements: contrasting dark colors, sashing (the device of separating quilt blocks with horizontal and vertical strips), the use of white as a ground color, and the serrated effect achieved by edging larger shapes with small triangular pieces.

In this selection of cheddar quilts from the Kathlyn Sullivan Collection, we see these characteristics, as well as others common to Southern quilts, like heavy cotton batting, and “fan” or “elbow” style quilting, in which curvilinear lines emanate from the quilter’s elbow, which was used as a fulcrum.

Works in the Exhibition

Works in the Exhibition
Winding Blades

Pattern: Winding Blades
Maker unidentified
1880-1900
Probably made in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
Hand-pieced, hand-quilted

Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2014.049.0002

Rocky Mountain

Pattern: Rocky Mountain
Probably made by M.J. Bowman
Made in Kentucky
Dated 1879
Hand- and machine-pieced, hand-quilted

Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2014.049.0005

Mill Wheel

Pattern: Mill Wheel
Maker unidentified
1880-1900
Probably made in Iredell County, North Carolina
Hand-pieced, hand-quilted

Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2014.049.0012

Rob Peter to Pay Paul (lattice sashing)

Pattern: Rob Peter to Pay Paul (lattice sashing) 
Maker unidentified
1880-1900
Probably made in Person County, North Carolina Hand-pieced, hand-quilted

Gift of the Robert and Ardis James Foundation 2014.049.0023

Pine Burr

Pattern: “Pine Burr”
Unidentified maker
Made in Guilford County, North Carolina
Circa 1880-1890
Hand-pieced, hand-appliquéd, reverse appliquéd, hand-quilted
Gift of the Robert & Ardis James Foundation
2014.049.0024

Works in the Exhibition
Event Date
Thursday, September 20, 2018 to Tuesday, February 5, 2019