Although the goal of quilt makers during the Colonial Revival was to go back to the styles of Early America they often missed the mark. But in the case of medallion quilts they came pretty close to emulating quilts actually made in Colonial America.
Central medallion style quilts were already popular in 18th century England. The English called them "frame" quilts as "medallion" is a later term. So as early as the 1700s women carried quilts of this style with them when they came to the New World. They also brought the patterns and skills needed to make them.
These quilts had a center focal point that might be a solid piece of fabric with an interesting print, an appliqued center or a larger pieced block. Pieced and/or appliquéd borders surrounded this central medallion.
Leaders of the quilt revival of the early 20th century must have been inspired by examples of these early quilts as several, including Marie Webster, Rose Kretsinger and Ann Orr, not only made quilts in this style but also designed medallion style patterns for others. Their medallion quilts emphasized applique, especially with floral themes. Although they were designed in the spirit of the older quilts the solid or near solid applique fabrics on broad expanses of white gave them a modern look.
I originally designed this quilt just so I would have an illustration but I've been asked to share the pattern. So I am sharing the templates for the applique with some basic instructions but you need some experience to tackle this quilt. The templates are set for a small wall hanging measuring about 26" by 30". This means that some of the applique pieces are quite small. If you want to make a large quilt you will have to enlarge the patterns. This can be done on a copy machine. Feel free to be creative in altering these patterns or adding your own motifs.
To be really true to the period you will want to hand applique this quilt. But if you want an easier method you could use bonding and machine applique. I do plan to share an easier applique pattern with more detailed instructions at a later date.
When printing out the PDFs for the templates be sure to set the printer at "page scaling" none. This will assure the templates will print out the right size.
The first template you will need is Scallop for the Border. It can be used to mark the outer border for your quilt. I suggest you measure out the size you want for the quilt then lightly pencil in the border. It will take some time and accuracy. It doesn't have to come out exactly the same as mine. Once you know where your edges will be you can start laying out where you will want to put your applique.The PDFs for the applique motifs can be found at Baskets in Oval, Pair of Flowers and Single Flower. I included a template for the oval around the basket and flowers for placement purposes. But you will want to use a bias strip to make this oval.
Although Marie Webster published her first quilt pattern with scalloped borders in 1912 it took until the 1920s for them to become really popular. These curved edges required bias binding. The quilt maker would have to cut the fabric strips on the bias unless she opted to use bias tape. This tape was available in many colors and widths from 1920 to 1940 though it was available much earlier.
Unfortunately there is less choice in bias tape today in quality, color and width. So you may prefer to make your own bias strips. Don't even think about using straight grain binding if you value your sanity.
© 2007 Judy Anne Breneman
print a printer friendly version of this page
Learn more and see examples of Colonial Revival medallion quilts at
Colonial Revival Era Quilts: Women's Symbols of Endurance