Thursday, August 25, 2016

Rose of Sharon

In October, Kara and I (Teri) will be teaching this lovely Rose of Sharon block at our local quilt shop, Patches Quilting and Sewing, in Mt. Airy, Maryland. The class will run for three weeks, on Thursday evenings. 

Spoken Without a Word,
30th Anniversary Revised Edition
The pattern for this block is found in the book, Spoken Without a Word, by Elly Sienkiewicz, who designed this particular rendering, stitched primarily with ribbon. When Elly stitched the block, she changed the orientation, omitted the four center buds, and inked a picture of the Maryland State House within the wreath. We chose to create the block with the buds in the center, and we loved Elly's ribbon choices, so we attempted to match her selections as closely as possible. 

Elly's Rose of Sharon

Both Kara and I love this block, and evidently, many other quilters have loved it as well. I thought it might be fun to explore some of the different antique iterations I have come across and share them with you. 

About a year and a half ago, I visited the DAR Museum's exhibit, Eye on Elegance. (To see more about that visit, click here.) There were several Baltimore Album Quilts in their collection that had variations of the Rose of Sharon block. 

I love the colorful fabric choices in this one.
Made for Betsey Hobbs Harper and William Harper; Baltimore, 1848

The fussy-cut fabric in these flowers add such charm!
Made for Betsey Hobbs Harper and William Harper; Baltimore, 1848

Note the block in the center of the top row. 
I didn't get a photo of just the block, but it is quite similar to our pattern design.
Made for Betsey Hobbs Harper and William Harper; Baltimore, 1848

While this wreath has six flowers rather than four, it still appears to be related to the Rose of Sharon.
Made by Ruth Pettit Penn; Baltimore, about 1850

The four vases in the middle of the quilt are surrounded by Rose of Sharon wreaths.
Three of them have four flowers, like our pattern. Can you find them?

Made by Ruth Pettit Penn; Baltimore, about 1850

You may remember that I noted a number of Rose of Sharon blocks in the quilts that we saw at Lovely Lane this past spring. (To see the full quilts from that visit, click here.) Note how many variations there are. Isn't it interesting that these quilts were all made in Baltimore at about the same time? I'm sure neighboring quilters shared inspiration and patterns—just as we do today!

Reverend Lipscomb Quilt, 1846-47

The following five Rose of Sharon blocks are all in the Baltimore Album Quilt made for Reverend Best in 1847-48. While similar, none are identical.


Shared with permission from Sharon's Antiques.
While surfing the web, I found this Rose of Sharon quilt on a vintage fabric and quilt site, Sharon's Antiques. The block is recognizable, but rather than being part of an album quilt, the entire quilt is composed of twelve of these blocks. The vine border is made up of elements of the wreath, with alternating flowers and buds. The quilt is from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and is dated mid-1800s. 

Permission was kindly granted to allow me to share this quilt with you. Please take a moment to go to their web site (click here) and take a closer look. The quilting is stunning, as is the appliqué workmanship. Who knows, you may even be tempted—as I was—to purchase this beauty!

If you turn this block a quarter-turn, there is a striking resemblance to the pattern we will be teaching.
This block is very much like the pattern in Spoken Without a Word.
Shared with permission from Sharon's Antiques.

We are excited to share this block in our upcoming class. Ribbon definitely gives this block a unique and elegant look. If you're in the area, we hope you can join us for the fun!

French wired, ombré ribbon is gathered for the blooms.

The buds are padded ribbon with ultrasuede calyxes.
Leaves are created with hand-dyed silk ribbon.

Ribbon-worked Rose of Sharon

And we'll close with a few Rose of Sharon from my garden. Happy stitching!


  1. Oh thank you for the wonderful eye candy and the history lesson. Sharon's site is one of my favorites and I have found many interesting feedsacks through her over the years. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You're quite welcome, Wendy! I confess that I got lost looking at Sharon's collection of vintage fabrics and feedsacks. How ironic that Sharon had such a lovely Rose of Sharon quilt! ;-)