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On Quilting

On Quilting

A typical quilt is composed of three major parts: the top, the batting, and the backing. Quilting can be viewed from three different aspects: the object, the process, and the maker. All ofthese are influenced by the culture in which they are produced and are addressed in the exhibition, Quilts of tlle Calle River Plantations.

The quilts in the exhibition have been brought together for the first time and span over 100 years of southern quilting. Associated tools, period artifacts, photographs, and related aspects of family and plantation histories are exhibited with the quilts to enhance the interpretation of female quiltmakers and plantation culture in Louisiana history.

The stitching together of two layers of fabric with a layer of batting between are the defining characteristics of a typical quilt. Most quilts are pieced and stitched to form decorative patterns and motifs that enhance their aesthetic value, while layering enhances their functional value as warm bedcoverings. In Colonial America, a quilt commanded a higher monetary value than its single-layer woven counterpart, the blanket. This also held true in late 19th century Louisiana and is illustrated by the succession records of Ambrose LeCompte II of Magnolia Plantation. Upon his death in the 1880s, quilts in his estate were valued at $3.00 each, as compared to white spreads valued at 75 cents each, blankets at 50 cents each, and a cow at $10.00.

Both fancy and plain quilts are shown together as domestic products used by the planter families in one of the oldest plantation areas in Louisiana. Cane River quilts illustrate the development of American quilting in both size and style. A variety of quilt types, such as wholecloth, block, applique, pieced, embroidered, scrap, and purchased-fabric quilts, are represented. The women who made the quilts used their own artistic creativitywhile following popular trends. Family history and sentimental attachments are evidenced through the passing of the quilts from one generation to the next. The women and their quilts provide an intimate view into the lifestyles behind the pillars and porticos of the plantation homes.

Quilts of the Cane River Plantation

Exhibit Dates:
March 1 – May 29, 1998

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LSU Textile & Costume Museum
140 Human Ecology Building
Department of Textiles, Apparel Design, and Merchandising
College of Agriculture
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
Telephone: (225) 578-5992 and 578-2281
Fax (225) 578-2697
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