Monday, November 18, 2019

Whig's Defeat in a Block

Whig's Defeat made in Tennessee, said to be dated 1844-1855 
in the collection of the American Museum in Britain

The Whig's Defeat design is a classic of Southern quilt making. Early examples are often found in Tennessee where the name and the quilts may relate to the 1844 Presidential election. Kentuckian Henry Clay, a Whig, was defeated by Tennessee's James Polk, a Democrat---hence the name Whig's Defeat.

The pattern can be constructed in a variety of ways.

Early versions tend to be a combination of pieced block and appliqued setting strips, but as decades passed many Southern quilters confined the pattern to a single block, both pieced and appliqued.

See another construction here at a recent post:

Amadilla Lyons, Louisiana project & the Quilt Index
This quilt was said to have been made by an aunt for an 1890 wedding.

The current owner called it Grandmother's Engagement Ring, a
less political name used by Mountain Mist for their version of the design.
The piecing was in a square placed on point and the applique went outside the center square.

The BlockBase number is 2529.

They actually wanted you to construct it as pieced fan block with appliqued
sash but they showed it like this.

Texas dealer John Sauls has two similar quilts in his inventory. Number of leaves or fingers and number of spiky points in the fan differ but the basic construction is a square inside a square. Looks to be after 1880 when the pattern isolated into blocks is most popular.

These solid color quilts are so hard to date by the fabrics. Style & square in a square format
is probably the most reliable clue.


Unlike the older versions the square-in-a-square patterns do not interconnect.
As in many Southern quilts of the 1880-1930 years the block dominates. 
Sashing provides strong visual boundaries.

The examples in the photo files are all done in the solid fabrics
typical of Southern quilts of those years, the fabrics produced in
Southern mills.

Emma Wood's block is slightly different as the edges of the center square are not straight lines.
I brightened up the photos to show you the red and ?-color triple strip sashing.

Emma Woods, New Hope Township, North Carolina project
and the Quilt Index. 
The family called this Queen Victoria's Fan.

No sashing here but the seam lines indicate a square-in-a-square construction.

The actual quilts, which all look to date from that 1880-1930 era, vary so much we can doubt the quiltmakers had a published pattern. And we haven't found anything just like the square-in-a-square design till Carrie Hall published her book in 1935.

Here's Carrie Hall's block from the collection of the
Spencer Museum of Art. Interesting that Carrie used solid
colors as if she were trying to copy the Southern chrome orange and oxblood
brown color scheme with what was available in Leavenworth, Kansas
in the 1920s and early '30s.

Since it's in BlockBase I can easily give you a pattern.

It's on two 8-1/2 x 11 sheets. You have
to paste them together.
The pattern is for a 12" block.

The center square with the fans should finish to 8-1/2"---cut 9".
Cut 4 corner triangles by cutting 2 squares 6-7/8" in half
with a diagonal line.

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