Lafayette Orange Peel Quilt
Indigo blue cotton fabric with white polka dots has been used in conjunction with white cotton to make the blocks (7½ in square), which are pieced together on point.Full description »
Indigo blue cotton fabric with white polka dots has been used in conjunction with white cotton to make the blocks (7½ in square), which are pieced together on point. The border (5 in wide) is not uniform: two sides are indigo blue with white ovals, while the other two sides are the inverse of this (white with blue ovals). Contour quilting echoes the design.
The Marquis de Lafayette was a popular hero of the American Revolution. A French general, he served in the Continental Army under George Washington. His success in the Revolution made him popular among Americans, and many new towns and cities were named after him.
This pattern derives its name from an anecdote about Lafayette. Soon after the American Revolution, a celebratory banquet was held at which oranges were served. Lafayette was among the guests, and it is said that he quartered his orange before peeling. One of the female guests was so enraptured by the evening that she took his orange peel segments home and designed a quilt block with them. It is unlikely that this story is anything more than a popular myth, as each version of the tale is slightly different. Other names for the pattern include Pincushion, Bay Leaf, Tea Leaf, and Lover’s Knot.
The blocks for this quilt are constructed in a manner similar to that of Robbing Peter to Pay Paul. Four segments are cut from the blue square and sewn onto the white square, while the segments cut from the white square are sewn onto the blue one. These squares are then alternated to produce an overall pattern of circles. This pattern of circles has led some quilt historians to suggest that it is an early version of Double Wedding Ring.
From 1830 to 1875