Cigar Silk Ribbon Quilt Top

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Description

Cigar silk ribbons have been foundation-pieced to a backing fabric, in the same manner as Log Cabin quilts.

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Cigar silk ribbons have been foundation-pieced to a backing fabric, in the same manner as Log Cabin quilts. The seams have been decorated with feather embroidery stitches – an embellishment popular during the Victorian period and particularly present in Crazy quilts of the time. The ribbons have been arranged in such a manner as to suggest a Square-in-a-Square patchwork design.

During the late 1800s, cigar companies tied bundles of cigars with silk ribbons, which had the name of the company or cigar manufacturer stamped on them. Finer cigars sometimes had the name woven into the silk. As cigar-smoking was a common activity, most households had a plentiful supply of these ribbons.

The bright gold colour of these ribbons is still apparent in this piece. It is easy to see why so many women saved the ribbons in order to create such sumptuous designs from them. Yellow was the most common colour for the silk ribbons; other colours such as blue, red and pink were also used. The different colours of ribbons denoted the different grades of cigars that were bound by them.

Despite these pieces being made from common ribbons – essentially a pretty way of recycling – few of these quilts have survived. Many of the ribbons were low-quality silk and simply disintegrated with age. This quilt top is not only still intact but has also retained its rich colour. Silk cigar ribbon quilts of this quality are extremely rare.

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Object Name

» quilt tops

Dated

From 1875 (circa) to 1885 (circa)

Keywords

smoking, ,

Further details »

Materials

» ribbon (material)
» silk (textile)
» silk (fibre)

Technique

» sewing (needleworking technique)
» patchwork
» piecing
» embroidering

Production place

» United States of America

Collection

» Textile Collection

Dimensions

104xcm

Object number

1964.338

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