The blocks of this quilt display pieced fan shapes of solid red cotton. The ground fabric is of a white cotton printed with tiny blue polka dots. The backing is of plain white woven cotton, and B,e edge binding is of commercially woven bias tape. The quilting follows the fan shapes in each block. The quilt is hand stitched, except for the binding, which is stitched on by sewing machine.
When trade between the Western nations and Japan opened up in 1854, the influence of Japanese design became evident in many areas of the fine and decorative arts. Japanese design elements are found in Crazy quilts as well as in a particularly Japanesque quilt pattern called the Fan. Fan quilts are most often made of silk and velvet and have much the same aesthetic as Crazy quilts.
This red and white quilt was probably made at a somewhat later date than the silk and velvet Fan quilts of the 1880s and 1890s. Quilts made from a combination of red and white cotton were particularly popular in the early part of the twentieth century. However, this example is not a true red and white quilt, since the white background fabric is printed with tiny blue dots. This makes the quilt subtly evocative of America's national colors, in spite of the fact that the center square looks rather like the "Rising Sun" flag used by the Imperial Japanese army from 1870 to 1945. The placement of the blocks cleverly reinforces the fan imagery. There are six blocks across and six blocks down; the two central blocks in the outermost row on each side have been paired to form four fully open fans, to which the quiltmaker has added straight handles. The other blocks are composed of identical half-open fans set at angles to each other, and all of the blocks are decorated with fan-patterned quilting that further accentuates the overall design.
[Peck 2015; adapted from Amelia Peck, "American Quilts & Coverlets in the Metropolitan Museum of Art," 2007]