Friday, May 18, 2018

Introducing the Pincushion Quilt of 1825

Thank you for joining us again as we introduce a quilt recently donated to the Virginia Quilt Museum.  The Pincushion Quilt was made by Margaret Ann (Whitehead) Etheridge and was finished in 1825.  This beautiful quilt was constructed with silk fabrics appliqued on a velvet background. 

Completed in 1825, this quilt was entered into the Baltimore DAR Quilt Show in 1933 where it won a 1st place blue ribbon.

What do we know about the maker of this remarkable quilt?  Unfortunately, there's not a lot of information available about her.  Margaret Ann (Whitehead) Etheridge was born about 1805, probably in Portsmouth, VA.  She married Richard Etheridge and they had one son, William Henry Etheridge, who became caretaker of the quilt after the death of both parents around 1850.  For nearly 200 years, the quilt remained in Margaret's family for caretaking until November 2017, when Margaret's great-great-great-granddaughter, Renee (North) McCullough, donated it to the Museum.

Being nearly 200 years old, the quilt is in fragile condition and in need of repair. 

The Museum has commissioned Pam Pampe to undertake the repairs and we will be sharing her thoughts, processes and photos in future posts.

Martha applique'd the center silk fabrics of the pincusion blocks onto velvet fabric squares rather than piecing the blocks. When turning the quilt over you can see how she then stitched the applique'd "squares" together to form the center portion of the quilt.

She also used wool yarn to embroider the center wreath circles and stems.
Below is a detail of her work from the front and back of the quilt.


While this quilt is entirely appliqued and embellished with embroidery, it can be accomplished by any applique method:  needleturn, back-basting, starch basting, wash-away applique paper or raw-edge, making it appropriate for any skill level.  For your convenience, we have included Full Size templates for applique placement.

Another Important convenience.....

You can purchase this pattern as an Instant Download.

Or, you can purchase a Print copy of the pattern. 
The Museum will ship Domestic/US as well as International shipping.

To purchase the pattern, Please click on the VQM shop page link HERE
Please note: you will have to scroll to the end of the link page for the pattern. The instant download purchase is a BLUE button. International & Domestic shipping are both Yellow buttons.

We hope you enjoyed learning about Martha Etheridge's Pincushion Silk Quilt!
Next month we will begin sharing tips and techniques that we're using to make our own versions of this quilt.  We're happy to share your pictures as well, if you decide to work on this quilt (or any of the quilts we cover this year).

Happy Quilting!
Patti and Doreen

Pattern reproduced with permission by Doreen Johnson & Patti Snyder on behalf of the Virginia  Quilt Museum © 2017 


  1. Even with damage, it is a beauty.

    1. So happy it is being restored! And it looks more vibrant in person.