Double Wedding Ring Quilt Mrs. Andy G. Byler 1930–1940; American Folk Art Museum New York, New York www.folkartmuseum.org; 1982.22.3

“A Most Romantic Quilt…”

“There is a most romantic quilt, always in demand.
It’s not the easiest to make, but oh, it looks so fine when finished!”
– Rosa, Rhoda’s daughter,
in Patricia Wendorf’s novel “Double Wedding Quilt”

Indeed, the Double Wedding Ring quilt pattern is shrouded in romance and its origin is a bit mysterious.  Some consider this pattern among one of the oldest, while others insist that there was no historical mention of it until the 1920s, at least in the U.S.  Regardless of the discussions on when and where the pattern originated, the beauty of the Double Wedding Ring quilts transcends.

Double Wedding Ring quilt - c. 1930, Collection of Bill Volckening

Double Wedding Ring quilt – c. 1930, very rare – most were made on white background.
Collection of Bill Volckening. Courtesy of Bill Volckening.

 

It’s no surprise that many Double Wedding Ring quilts have become family heirlooms – made by grandmothers and mothers for their children and grandchildren.  There is a folklore belief that a newly wed couple will be protected from bad dreams and bad luck, and their marriage will be a blessed one if they sleep under a Double Wedding Ring quilt received as a wedding gift.

Double Wedding Ring quilt - c. 1960-1970, possibly made in Missouri; from collection of Bill Volckening

Double Wedding Ring quilt – c. 1960-1970, made in Missouri;
very rare – most were made on white background.

Collection of Bill Volckening. Courtesy of Bill Volckening.

 

Double Wedding Ring Quilt. Maker Unknown. c. 1930–1940. American Folk Art Museum, New York, New York.

Double Wedding Ring Quilt. Maker Unknown.
c. 1930–1940. Cotton, 86 ¼” x 72″.
Photo by Gavin Ashworth. Gift of Robert Bishop. Item number 1993.4.19. American Folk Art Museum, New York, New York www.folkartmuseum.org

There is a lot of symbolism behind this pattern – some point to the “gimmal ring,” a betrothal ring popular in 15th-16th centuries.  Gimmal ring was two rings fitted together to form one; the two parts were worn separately by the engaged couple, and during the wedding ceremony the rings were interlocked to be worn by the wife.  The infinity of Celtic Knot and Roman etching patterns with interlocking rings also comes to mind when we look at a Double Wedding Ring quilt, and the message of eternal love inevitably follows.

In her novel “Double Wedding Ring,” Patricia Wendorf heartily tells the story of Rhoda Salter, a pioneer woman who was keeping a diary of her journey from her home in Somerset, England, to the United States, after the death of her first husband.  When asked by her church to make a quilt for an unknown church donor, she goes along with her daughter’s suggestion of choosing the Double Wedding Ring pattern.  “In American families…a qwilt [sic] is so much more than a warm covering in winter.  It is a symbol.  There are engagement qwilts and bridal qwilts, and each has its own speshul [sic] pattern.”  Going along with her daughter’s suggestion, Rhoda creates this quilt, and it’s prophetic – the man for whom it’s made becomes her husband a short while later.

You might have seen many different variations of the Double Wedding Ring pattern.  It is still very popular as it is challenging, and, as some quilters say, is not for the faint of heart.  This week, in the spirit of Valentine’s, we’d like to share some amazing variations – old and new – of this most romantic quilt.

Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics - Join Us on FacebookEnjoy, and if you have a story to tell about your own Double Wedding Ring quilt, please do!  Share your Double Wedding Ring story with us on Facebook, or leave a comment below.

Double Wedding Ring Quilts Gallery

Images courtesy of International Quilt Study Center & Museum (www.quiltstudy.org).

Click on an image to learn more about each quilt.

 

Photography credits:

Page topDouble Wedding Ring Quilt.  Mrs. Andy G. Byler, c. 1930–1940. Cotton, wool, linen, and rayon. 84” x 66 ½” Photo by Scott Bowron. Gift of Irwin Nelson in memory of his grandparents Guerdon Stearns and Elinor Irwin (Chase) Holden, and in honor of his parents, Cyril Arthur and Elise Macy Nelson. Item number 1982.22.3. American Folk Art Museum. New York, New York. www.folkartmuseum.org


Special thanks to Bill Volckening, Quilt Collector, and Laura Chapman, Communications Coordinator at IQSCM, for their assistance with selection of the images for this post.

Extract from Patricia Wendorf’s novel “Double Wedding Ring” is available on Google Books.

 

 

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