Was the unknown maker of this bold, yet lyrical quilt inspired by Billie or Brownie, Thelonious, Miles or Chet? There’s no way to know for sure. But the quilt itself says, “yes,” because it’s nothing less than a piece of visual jazz.
Like jazz, it’s collaborative — a crazy quilt/six patch variation. Like jazz, it’s fearless, pairing yellow, pink and citrusy green cotton corduroy with indigo and black. And, like jazz, it’s all about improvisation. There’s only one perfectly round piece and one symmetrical form in the entire quilt!
Originally collected in East Texas, the quilt exhibits many of the characteristics of African American quilting, including the use of corduroy as a quilting material, unexpected color combinations, the irregular piece work; and asymmetrical design. So, I believe this quilt, like others that I’ve owned, is probably African American-made.
This is a fairly lightweight quilt, made with no batting. It’s machine pieced and feather-stitched around the pieces with saffron colored thread. The backing is a neutral polished cotton. Dimensions are 84” X 69-3/4” and the condition is excellent, with no stains or tears, one small area of slight foxing and, as the photos show, an overall appearance that suggests only minimal use. Probably 1940s-1960s.