About two weeks ago, I was asked by our Props Master to discuss quilts with one of the students who works in the prop shop regarding a quilt for our production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. In the short thirty minute discussion, I agreed to make a custom quilt for the production as I showed them images of quilts from The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England. The problem with a production set in Colonial America is that we have no proof from that era that the average person did or didn't have quilts. Most Colonial historians will argue that women simply didn't have the time to execute quilts given that the examples of quilts we do have from the Revolutionary period were executed by women of significant wealth and leisure. My argument typically lies that though we don't have proof they did, we also don't have proof that they didn't. So in an attempt (and probably frankly in vain), I found this quilt in the the Victoria and Albert Collection that was scrappy and I thought could be executed rather quickly as well as could be something a person would have executed (if they did) in Colonial America. I took it a step further by executing the quilt in linens which would have been available at the time and attempted to make it look like the fabrics came from the costumes made for the production.
Besides the quilt top being made of entirely linen, another unusual feature of this quilt is that the 'sandwich' is made from four layers: the top, a layer of muslin, the batting, and another later of muslin. This was done for the theatrical production. Due to the different weight of linen used in the quilt I made an attempt to ensure that the quilt would light evenly. Another aspect to the quilt being made of linen, I took the time to hand-quilt it in a utilitarian manner with 'normal' quilting thread to try to further make it as 'authentic' as possible. I also took the left over muslin used in the layers to make the binding which surrounds the quilt.
All told this quilt took me 75 hours to complete over a course of 11 days. The 75 hours include the time I spent shopping, cutting, piecing, basting, quilting, and binding. Approximately 50 hours was spent quilting alone.