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Backings were often of linen, which was considered a utility fabric.Early 1800's quilts were usually large (120 X 120), and often whole cloth quilts, or quilts of whole panels, such as the Tree of Life. Sometimes you would find quilts made of plain blocks (such as a simple Ohio star or nine patch) alternating with a plain block.Cotton was not readily available - the cotton gin was not invented until 1793 - and so the majority of fabrics used in clothing were linens, wools and silks.What you might have seen prior to 1800 were quilted petticoats, worn for warmth.Walnut hulls, hickory nut hulls, clay, or wood chips made brown.
Glazed fabrics such as chintz (see photo, left), roller prints and pillar prints were popular. Some quilt edges were finished with a fringe, particularly on the East Coast.Indigo blue was a deep blue, although Prussian (Lafayette) blue and light blue was also available.Pinks and dark roses were also seen most likely made from a madder dyes. The mid 1800's saw more appliqu quilts being made, with more elaborate quilting.Quilts and quilt making are a reflection of the life and times of the women who made quilts.Although the technique of quilting existed throughout history (quilted items have been discovered in Egyptian tombs, for example, and French knights used quilted jackets under their armor), quilts as we think of them didn't start showing up on the American scene until just prior to 1800.