Prints, colors and designs are Civil War era reproduction fabrics

Quilt by Karen Lamppa now on display at the Virginia library


Karen Lamppa’s quilt is inspired by quilts from the Civil War era. Submitted photo.

Karen Lamppa’s quilt is inspired by quilts from the Civil War era. Submitted photo.

VIRGINIA – A beautiful new quilt is now on exhibit in the lobby of the Virginia Public Library. This month’s fall-themed selection was created by Karen Lamppa, a founding member of the Going to Pieces Quilt Guild. Karen is a multi-talented artist who is often asked to teach various skills at area guild meetings. To prepare for her classes, Karen often spends many hours researching her topics. This 50-inch by 50-inch work, inspired by the quilts from the Civil War era, is no exception. Here is what Karen has to say about her quilt:

“In selecting this fabric for this quilt I was drawn to the smaller scale darker prints known as Civil War reproduction fabrics. The prints are smaller in scale, darker in color, with florals, checks, plaids, stripes, paisleys and patriotic themes. Fabrics from 1860-80 have small repeating figures that form a diagonal grid called foulard prints.

“Natural colors derived from plants were limited and often faded from washing and exposure to sunlight which makes it hard to determine the original color used. Madder came from the root of the madder plant, making madder red, which ranged in colors from chocolate brown, red, orange, pale salmon to pink. Blue from the indigo plant. Yellow green was produced by over-dyeing blue and yellow.

“Quilt block patterns from this era were generally simple in design; however, there were many that were of heirloom quality with intricate designs. I selected a simple pattern called the X-block and tried to find colors true to the time. This block was staggered with a nine-patch block and bordered with small blocks of fabric.

“This quilt is an example of a small “cot quilt” which were made for hospitals caring for the wounded soldiers during the Civil War. The South produced cotton but the North milled and manufactured the fabric. As the war went on, the ports in the South were closed and there was a severe shortage of fabric available to make the quilts.

“As the war progressed and the need became more desperate, several quilts from the homes were cut in half or even in thirds.”

The motto of the Going to Pieces Quilt Guild is “Inspire, Instruct & Improve.” Area sewers are welcome to attend monthly meetings of the guild, which are held the third Tuesday of each month from 6 – 8 p.m. in the basement of First Covenant Church, 232 5th St. S. in Virginia. For more information, contact Darcy at 218-750-7035.

Dawn Heisel lives in Britt, MN. She is a Going To Pieces Guild member.

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