Description of Collection

Historical Comment

One Family's Quilts

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MENNONITE QUILTS OF WATERLOO COUNTY -- A CATALOGUE OF THE COLLECTION

  • Please click on images below to see larger images and, in some cases, details.
  • All the quilts are from Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada (please click here for a map of the region)
  • Descriptions in italics are from the sellers or from the curator of the People's Place Museum in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
  • It is very difficult to get accurate images of quilts. Color, tone, and brightness in the images below are "estimates." We have tried not to exaggerate the artistic beauty of the quilts. But, to see them in person is to get a very different experience. In many cases it is a more powerful experience. In other cases it may not be as impressive. In all cases, it is a very different kind of experience.
  • Most of the quilts were originally purchased from family estate sales. The towns given below are the towns where the sales occurred. Most of the families had been living on their farmsteads for decades before the estate sales.
  • We are not quilters and have not tried to describe quilting techniques or stitching.
  • We have found that titles vary from person to person. The titles below were given to us and should not be taken as gospel. "Unknown Pattern" means unknown to us.
  • The information below is accurate to the best of our knowledge. Where possible we have cross-checked information from different sources. Please note that, in the few cases where there is any doubt that a quilt is Mennonite, we have noted this in italics.
1  Nine Patch Variation
c.1930's
heavy wool felts
Condition: good
72 x 84
Town: Alma
Maker unknown; from the family of Clifford and Seleda Martin

2  Joseph’s Coat (Mennonite name)
c.1940
some coat linings and crepes
Condition: excellent
72 x 86
Town: Alma
Maker unknown; from the family of Clifford and Seleda Martin

"a typical, distinctive Waterloo County quilt"


"This distinctively Waterloo County pattern is executed with a mix of traditional colors and more modern ones. The deep rich tones of the sashing and its blocks, as well as the top and bottom borders, are the colors and shades often associated with Amish quilts. So, too, are the black center squares of each pieced block, the maroon triangles surrounding them, and the black squares and triangles which define each block’s outer edges.
“But the yellow squares, and the pink and purple triangles which alternate from block to block, are from a more modern palette.
“The pattern itself puts this quilt in a transitional position, too. Each block begins with a diamond in the square, the well-known, classic Lancaster pattern. But each is finished with a series of squares and triangles that move these blocks toward floral representation – a modern impulse.
“Black quilting stitches and the cable quilting design in the borders are traditional practices.”
(Phyllis Pellman Good)

3  Log Cabin
c.1930
bright coloured sateens and dark coloured fine wools
Condition: crisp, unused
69 x 84
Town: St. Jacob's
Made by Lydia Martin; from the estate of Leah Martin, one of Lydia's daughters

"rare and unusual pattern made almost exclusively by Waterloo County Mennonites"

(this collection has three of four nearly identical quilts made by a mother for her four daughters -- there are variations of borders, size, and some colors -- leading to each having a different effect -- numbers 3, 52, and 57) -- please see One Family's Quilts


(for the work of Lydia Martin and her family, please see also 18, 19, 28, 32, 45, 52, 57)
Variable Star (with Wild Goose Chase border)
c.1930's-50's
cottons
Condition: fine
74 x 80
Town: unknown
Maker: unknown

“This subtly toned quilt was carefully composed. Each star features a black center square surrounded by eight colorful triangles. Joining the stars top-to-bottom and side-to-side are black blocks of an unusual shape – flat on the sides but pointed on the ends.
“Plain black squares sit among the stars echoing the smaller squares at the heart of each star. Red dynamic triangles in the border reinforce the stars’ points.
“The quilt’s scale and balance are remarkable. Its quilting softens its highly geometric forms.”
(Phyllis Pellman Good)
5  Trip Around the World - Sunshine and Shadow
c.1940-50
mostly lightweight wools with some cotton sateen and rayons, figural glazed cotton lining
Condition: excellent, unused, with one spot
80 x 87
Town: Elmira
Maker: unknown; from Joseph Metzger

6  Double Irish Chain
c.1910
cottons
Condition: crisp, unused, with two small brown spots in center
70 x 80
Town: near St. Jacob's
Maker: same maker as number 40

numbers 6, 39, and 40 are from the same estate; 6 and 40 are made by the same quilter; 39 is from the same family but a later generation

7  Mariners Compass Variation
c.1890
cottons
67.5 x 83
Condition: good used
Town: unknown
Maker: unknown

"exceptional and rare"

8  Chevron Log Cabin
c.1920
mainly fine wools, sateen border
77 x 84
Condition: perfect, unused
Town: Elmira
Made by Melinda Sander
9  Log Cabin Barn Raising (with Diamond Border top and bottom)
c. 1900
variety of materials
Condition: good, used, some weak spots
72 x 74.5
Town: from the settlement of Wilmot Township
Maker: unknown

from an Amish-Mennonite group found only in Ontario
10  Eight Point Star
c.1900-10
cottons
Condition: crisp, unused
64 x 78
Town: unknown
Maker: unknown

11  Log Cabin Courthouse Steps
c.1920
fine wools
65 x 73
Condition: crisp, one small moth hole near center
Town: near Winterbourne
Maker unknown but made for Daniel Cressman

“This playful quilt has a few rules, but a lot of room for variation. All the center 'hearths' are yellow; all but two of the blocks include a pair of red 'logs'; each block is made up of 7 matching pairs of logs that are each a step away from the center hearth, on facing sides of each block. Most of the fabrics are plain, apart from striped gray and some purple and blacks which have patterns woven into them.
“It was in the assembling of the blocks that the quiltmaker allowed herself considerable flexibility. Each block is different from all the rest.
“There is minimal quilting – a bit 'in the ditch' on each block; scallops in the outer border.”
(Phyllis Pellman Good)

12  Unknown Pattern
c.1930
crepes, cottons, polished cottons
Condition: used
78 x 86
Town: unknown
Maker: unknown
13  Postage Stamp (5226 pieces)
c.1920-30
with some fabrics from much earlier
69 x 79
Condition: excellent
Town: probably within 10 miles of Alma
Maker: unknown

"rare to have small pieces up here”

“This Postage Stamp quilt may be a scrap bedcover, but its quiltmaker had a firm hold on its design. Despite the vast number of fabrics she put to use, and its 5226 pieces, the quilt follows a carefully maintained grid.
“Four plain red squares (in all but one main block) define each block’s center. Rows of dark blue form each block’s outer edges. Red-print squares, paired on each side with squares of light background, march diagonally between the blocks.
“The overall effect is of both subtle settledness and motion.
“A single row of crosshatch quilting runs through every other block in the pieced interior. The unquilted red squares seems to make them more prominent."
(Phyllis Pellman Good)
14  Variable Star
c.1930-40
lightweight wools, crepes, blends and yellow cotton sateen, dark blue cotton sateen lining
72 x 74
Condition: excellent, unused
Town: Floradale
Maker: unknown; from Milton Bauman

“Despite the orderliness, this quilt has an exuberance, due largely to its highly contrasting and intense colors.
“Notice the underspoken details that add to its energy and depth. Pairs of yellow triangles complete each row of brilliant stars, sitting tightly against the black borders. And dividing the strips of stars are plain blocks of two shades of purple, bringing more richness to the overall effect.
“The quilting is minimal, refusing to compete with the vibrant and carefully pieced stars and sashing, reminiscent of a glowing night sky.”
(Phyllis Pellman Good)
15  Nine Patch and Churn Dash
c.1910
heavy winter weight, cottons, crepes
64 x 81
Town: Floradale
Maker: unknown; from Noah Leah Gingrich

"like kind mother made for men when left home. Maybe by his mother."

from same family as 47

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