Oh, la, la!
I find the colors of this quilt quite amazing—so rich and so very Lily Pulitzer. But it actually dates from the 1850s and it's French. It's the quilt from the global quilting feature in the April American Patchwork and Quilting.
I've said it before, but antique quilts were never the thing that drew me to quilting. But the opportunity to learn about them through the writing I've done has made me a convert. I find it so interesting that not only have people been creating quilts all over the world, but that they've been making the forever. (Carolyn Ducey, the curator from the International Quilt Study Center told me that quilts go back as far as Roman times, when soldiers wore layers of cloth stitched together as a type of armor.)
This particular quilt is a vanne, which is basically a decorative throw that was used on beds. As you can tell by the minimal piecing on this, these types of quilts (made in the Marseille region) were all about the quilting and not the piecing.
Lucky French babies were sometimes brought into their bed-resting mothers and laid on a vanne. Imagine letting a baby spit up on that gorgeously worked fabric! I'm pretty sure that's what old cloth diapers were made for. But this does remind me about an off-topic, but fairly fascinating article by Jill Lepore about breastfeeding in the Jan. 19 New Yorker. It provides a great history of breast feeding (news to many, I'm sure, but not so much to me—in my checkered past I was not only a Lamaze instructor but rented electric breast pumps, the kind that were only available hospitals in the early 1980s, to mothers in need) and some provocative thoughts on breast feeding now. I don't agree with it all by any means, and I've always had strong feelings about the guilt mothers are made to feel for not nursing, but it's worth reading. I'd love to hear what anyone thinks about it (or about French vannes, for that matter).