Textiles and the Triplett Sisters

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Secrets in the Making

What do you do with a treasured petticoat, cloak, or dress? Make a quilt, of course! Frequently we think of clothing being cutup into small pieces to re-use the fabric in pieced patterns to create a quilt, such as the center of this mathematical star made of dress taffeta. This method creates art from what fabric you have available or to preserve the legacy of a lost loved one through their clothing. Sometimes coats or other pieces are used to create stuffed animals to pass onto children in the family.

However, there are other reasons and ways to use clothing in a quilt. In the case of the Revolutionary War Cloak, the cloak had a long time meaning to the family. Family lore stated that the ancestor had killed a British soldier and claimed the cloak as war bounty. Passed down generation to generation, this quilter found a way to put the cloak to use while still preserving the legacy of the artifact.

In the late 1700s, a quilter possibly from Connecticut, found a way to preserve two pieces of clothing in one quilt. Both articles of clothing were going out of style with the change to regency fashion. Yet, who would want to give up these expensive clothes which were also works of art? Instead the beautiful red cloak was repurposed for the center of the quilt with additional embroidery decorations added. Then the petticoat with amazing quilting was added to be used as the “drop” on the bed. When examining a quilt, don’t forget to hunt for clues of secrets in the making.