Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail in SC Gains Unusual Addition


The Upstate Heritage Quilt Trail has gained an unusual addition. Rather than a typical quilt block, this addition is a rendition of a cross stitch quilt called “Native Birds,” and was mounted on the home of its owner, Jacqueline Downes of Chartwell Point Road in Seneca, SC.


Made in the late 1950’s, the original quilt was made by June Fisher, Sadie German, Mable Peters and Florence Muth, Mrs. Downs’ mother, grandmother and great aunts, all of Allentown, PA, in Lehigh County.  Nine birds are depicted, with some repeats, however, it is the cardinal that is featured on the mounted quilt block.

“My mother would spend months stitching the pattern as she sat in her wheelchair – it was busy work. The ladies would arrive, set up a frame in the living room, and I would find them working every day when I came home from school.  Over time, the frame would be folded smaller and smaller, until the quilt was finished. Then mother would start on another.”

Cross stitch is one of the oldest forms of embroidery and can be found all over the world. X-shaped stitches in a tiled pattern are used to form a picture. It is often executed on easily countable evenweave fabric called aida cloth. The stitcher counts the threads in each direction so that the stitches are of uniform size and appearance. This is also called counted cross stitch to distinguish it from other forms of cross-stitch. Besides the aida cloth, other fabrics used in cross-stitch include linen and mixed content fabrics called ‘even weave.’ This name refers to the fact that the fabric is woven to make sure there are the same number of threads in an inch left to right and top to bottom. Fabrics are categorized by threads per inch, or ‘count,’ and can range from 11 to 40 counts.

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