Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Quilt, Broken Dishes pattern

ca. 1930
Possibly made in Ohio, United States
76 x 64 1/2 in. (193 x 163.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Thomas Jayne Studio Inc. Gift, in honor of Julia Burke, 2003
Accession Number:
Not on view
This Broken Dishes quilt is perhaps the most eccentric of our Amish quilts. It was purchased in Kalona, Iowa, but is thought to be from an Amish settlement in Holmes County, Ohio. The Amish first came to Kalona from Ohio in 1846. Many Amish families lived in two or three midwestern states over a lifetime and, as a result, quilting traditions were somewhat fluid in these areas, making it hard to identify the exact place where a quilt was made. Broadly speaking, the pieced patterns of Iowa quilts tend to be less complex than those from other midwestern Amish settlements. (See the "Double T" pattern quilt, 2003.312). Our Broken Dishes quilt differs from most other Amish quilts in one important way--it is not actually quilted. In contrast to the Amish of Lancaster County, the midwestern Amish seemed to prize intricate piecing patterns and vibrant color effects over fancy stitching. This quilt would be much less interesting if it had been traditionally quilted with dark thread. Instead, its layers have been fastened together using thick cotton yarn ties, making it officially a comforter rather than a quilt. While this is certainly a quick method of joining layers, the maker put some thought into the tying pattern, using light blue ties in the areas with black fabric and green ties in the dyed-fabric areas. The subtle difference in color, and the "hairy" texture of the ties, adds to the lively appearance of this unusual piece.
[Peck 2015; adapted from Amelia Peck, "American Quilts & Coverlets in the Metropolitan Museum of Art," 2007]
Acquired by the seller in Kalona, Iowa, a town settled by the Amish in 1846. However, because of the rather untraditional nature of the quilt, the seller surmises that the quilt was probably made in Holmes County, Ohio, an area where many of the Amish who live in Kalona today had originated.
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