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Antique dating guide identifying quilt

You've decided what kind of an antique quilt you want to reproduce and now you need to pick out some fabric.Following is some information to help you find sources of reproduction and vintage fabric along with a bit of guidance in choosing what is right for your project.

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Chocolate browns are very indicative of the 1870s and ‘80s. Like, antimony or chrome orange, chrome greens and yellows were popular in the period from about 1860 to 1880 and were produced, often in the home, from highly toxic chemical dye powders. Rich chocolate brown (think the color of a milk chocolate bar, hence the alternate name ‘Hershey’ brown) was often paired with white in quilts.Purples and greens may look lifeless today but at one time they were full and vibrant.Large prints occurred but many were overall small designs with either plant related motifs or interestingly shaped geometric prints.Quilts and quilt making are a reflection of the life and times of the women who made quilts.

Although the technique of quilting existed throughout history (quilted items have been discovered in Egyptian tombs, for example, and French knights used quilted jackets under their armor), quilts as we think of them didn't start showing up on the American scene until just prior to 1800.

I can’t count how many times I have had a seller tell me that the estate told them that the quilt was made by the grandmother , or great-aunt, or assorted other ancestors, when in fact they were made in China.

Family history is often a fuzzy thing, and quilt history can’t be based on assumptions.

While the color was called antimony or chrome orange in the nineteenth century, historians and collectors often call the color ‘cheddar’ today.

This dye was often made in the home from store-bought powder, however, the high lead content of the dye made it (in retrospect) a dangerous substance with which to work.

The system unveiled here for dating heirloom quilts is based upon five characteristics -- fabric, style, color, technique, and pattern.