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Sampler Quilt, 1863 (detail)
Jane A. Stickle (1817-1896)

Sampler Quilt, 1863
Jane A. Stickle (1817-1896)
Pieced cotton with linen backing Sampler Quilt, 1863



They Come from Around the World
1863 Jane Stickle Quilt on Display at the Bennington Museum

It began last summer. Telephone calls and emails from Australia, England, California, Texas; the calls kept coming. “When will the quilt be on display next year?” Quilters from around the country and world were planning trips to the region to be here when the 1863 Sampler Quilt created by Jane A. Stickle was on view. From September 2 through October 9 the quilt that inspires quilters from all over the world will be on its yearly display at the Bennington Museum. Brought to the museum 60 years ago, the Jane Stickle Quilt is only shown for a short time each year due to the fragility of the fabric.

Jane Stickle’s hugely ambitious quilt is unique among mid-nineteenth- century American quilts. The small size and sheer quantity of the uniquely patterned blocks in Stickle’s quilt is especially notable. The average size of a quilt block during this period was 8 to 12 inches square, while the 169 blocks in the Stickle quilt measure 4 to 5 inches square, or one quarter the typical scale. Many of the blocks are intricately pieced, the individual pieces ranging in size from less than a quarter of an inch to 2 inches on a side and some of the blocks having as many as thirty-five to forty pieces. The quilt contains a remarkable 5,602 pieces surrounded by a unique scalloped border. Amazingly, none of the printed fabrics are used in more than one block.

Jane’s access to such a wealth of textiles may be due to the fact that her brother, Erastus Blakely, was listed as a “tailor” in the 1850 census. Jane recycled a linen sheet from her mother, Sarah Blakely, for the majority of the quilt’s backing; the initials “S B,” are embroidered in tiny cross-stitches on one of the scallops at the quilt’s back edge, originally intended to identify the linen’s owner. The craftsmanship of the quilt has been mentioned in numerous quilting books, and is the topic of Dear Jane, The Two Hundred Twenty-Five Patterns from the 1863 Jane A. Stickle Quilt, by Brenda Papadakis.

Jane Stickle was born Jane Blakely on April 8, 1817 in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Married to Walter Stickle sometime before 1850, they did not have a family of their own. They did, however, take responsibility for at least three other children in the area. In an 1860’s census, Jane Stickle was listed as a 43 year-old farmer living alone. She eventually reunited with her husband, but during that time alone, she lovingly created what is now known as the Jane Stickle Quilt. As a reminder of the turbulent times the country was going through, she carefully embroidered “In War Time 1863” into the quilt.

About the Museum

The Jane Stickle Quilt can be viewed with regular museum admission. The Bennington Museum, located at 75 Main Street (Route 9) in Bennington, has the largest public collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world as well as the largest collection of 19th-century Bennington pottery. On view at through November 5 is Grandma Moses: American Modern. This exhibition has a subversive goal, for it will upset your expectations and get you to look at this beloved American artist with fresh eyes. On a nice day, you can further explore the museum grounds with a walk through the Hadwen Woods on the George Aiken Wildflower Trail. The Museum is open daily through October 30. Regular admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students over 18. Admission is never charged for younger students or to visit the museum shop. Visit the museum’s website or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

Related Event:

Saturday, September 30 (Rain Date: October 1) , 11:00 am to 2:00 p.m.  Join us for a day of family fun in the spirit of Grandma Moses and Jane Stickle. Quilting activities for all ages including creating “Woodland quilt squares” on the Aiken Trail. Bring a family picnic if you wish and we will provide cider, apples, and apple pie from the “Apple Pie” contest entries. Music by the Bennington Ukulele String Ensemble from 12 noon to 1 p.m. This event is free and open to everyone. Participants will be given a pass to the museum to see the Grandma Moses: American Modern exhibition, the permanent Grandma Moses Gallery along with the 1863 Stickle Quilt.
Best Apple Pie in Bennington Contest to be judged at the Picnic by Stuart Hurd, Bennington Town Manager and Justine Scanlon, Superior Judge of the Probate Court. All pies must be at the Bennington Museum Pavilion by 11 a.m. Wonderful prize for the winning pie.

Bennington Museum is close to other notable art and culture destinations, including Williams College Museum of Art and The Clark Art Institute (20 minutes); and MassMoCA (25minutes). Visit ArtCountry for more information on these cultural centers.