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Pied Piper Quilt by Agnes V. Parker, circa 1942. MichiganMSUMuseum-ad0d5m9.
Image courtesy The Quilt Index.
Satin Applique Lamb Baby Quilt by May Eliza Glasgow Stratton circa 1948.
Image courtesy of The Quilt Index.

The anticipation and joy that comes with an expected baby often means a special blanket or quilt lovingly made by the awaiting mother. These charming little quilts show the care, detailed work and often give a nod to the popular styles of the times during which they were made. During the 1930s-1950s Hollywood movies featured glamorous women and home decor swathed in yards of satin, silk and ruffles, it was only natural that these luxurious fabrics would also be embraced when it came to the expected baby's bedding. And while many of these luxurious blankets are no longer around due to use, Dr. Marian Ann J. Montgomery shares a lovely quilt that is still in excellent condition from the collection of Clothing and Textiles.

Satin Baby Quilt
By Marian Ann J. Montgomery, Ph.D.,
Curator of Clothing and Textiles, the Museum of Texas Tech University

In preparation for the birth of Barbara Ann Quail in 1944, a beautiful white satin baby quilt was made. The remaining blue dots where the quilting lines were to go is a clear indication that it was made from a quilt kit and never washed. No one knew before Barbara was born if she would be a boy or a girl, so the kit was made up with blue motifs of Bambi and Thumper. The movie “Bambi” had been released in 1942 and was a popular theme for baby quilts at the time.

Barbara Ann Quail born 1944, photo courtesy of Barbara Quail Malone.

The all satin whole cloth type of quilt was likely influenced by the work of the Wilkinson Sisters of Ligonier, Indiana who endeavored to produce only the finest, most original whole cloth quilts which they sold to an elite clientele across the world, from 1908 through the 1940s. If you recall the 1930s era was one of sleek, smooth, elegant decoration—think silk satin evening gown. Everything was moving more quickly because of the machine age and interiors reflected this. Their wholecloth, shiny satin quilts fit perfectly with the décor of the era. Not surprisingly their idea was knocked off. The Museum holds a beautiful whole cloth from the time that is green on one side and pink on another.

Wilkinson Sisters Iona and Rosalie, circa 1915.
Image courtes of the Museum of Texas Tech University.

While I was reluctant to put the names Bambi and Thumper on the quilt when describing it, the donor called them that so the reference to the movie is much more than a curatorial guess. A pillow with Thumper on it was also part of the donation, but that was washed as all the quilting lines have been removed from it. These are wonderful treasures of how Texans prepared for the birth of babies in 1944. Further information on the Wilkinson sisters and their business was published in Uncoverings, the Journal of the American Quilt Study Group in 2002, “The Wilkinson Quilt Company: ‘America’s Original Makers of Fine Quilts,’” by Marilyn Goldman.


Wholecloth satin baby quilt appliqued with Bambi and Thumper, Gift of Barbara Malone, TTU-H1979-035-014.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Texas Tech University.

 


Detail of Bambi and Thumper from 1944 quilt made from a kit for Barbara Malone. 
Photographing the image resulted in a bluish cast to the image, but it is all white satin. 
Gift of Barbara Malone, TTU-H1979-035-014.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Texas Tech University.

 

Learn more about the Clothing and Textiles Collection at the Museum of Texas Tech University.

Click here for related articles from the Museum of Texas Tech University Textile Collections.


Comments   
#2 Connie Neumann 2019-05-15 13:34
Born in 1954 in Wichita Falls, TX, I also received a peachy pink satin Bambi quilt which I still have. Thank you for a nice historical look at this kind of baby quilt.
#1 Ann Rippel 2019-05-15 12:15
Beautiful baby quilts could be charming today as they were in 1944. It is interesting as well was there a shortage of supplies because of the War?
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