Making Memory Quilts: This Old Quilt

“Pennant Quilt”

For those of us who love quilts, the chance to see another one is what makes us tick.

The fact that they are all different, and created by individuals with unique experiences and levels of skill, makes quilts even more fascinating.

One of the more interesting aspects of quilting is the ability of the makers to tell stories and record memorable occasions in their lives. What is never a source of surprise is how diversified the traditions and materials are; these are the vehicles which allow people to create individual and personal quilts.

Just when you think you have seen it all, the “Pennant Quilt” appears, and you realize you haven’t.

It’s what makes it all worthwhile. It keeps us waiting in anticipation of what is around the next corner. The tradition welcomes all who wish to participate and at any level. When creativity is boundless and the medium is limitless, the results reflect the imagination, no matter how bizarre.

“Pennant Quilt” • 69½" × 87" • cotton and felted wool pennants | Photos by Robert L. Guaraldi

“Pennant Quilt” • 69½” × 87″ • cotton and felted wool pennants | Photos by Robert L. Guaraldi

Commemorating a trip between friends

The Pennant Quilt was made in Smoketown, Pennsylvania, by A.H.M., and celebrates a motor trip taken by two friends in 1915 to San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The exposition celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and the rebuilding of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires. The fair’s buildings took three years to construct and had a great economic impact for a city that had been all but destroyed by the cataclysmic events. The exposition was a tremendous success, attracting nearly twenty million visitors from all over the world.

One of the buildings originally constructed for the exposition, in the Marina District, is still in use today. The Palace of Fine Arts, designed by acclaimed architect Bernard Maybeck and patterned after a Roman ruin, is the former home of the Exploratorium museum and is currently in use as a theater.

Detail of Third Street Tunnel, Los Angeles 1903 • This photo shows the 1080-foot tunnel, 26-foot roadway, and 8-foot sidewalks. Construction was begun in 1898, and was completed in 1901, connecting the Crown Hill neighborhood with the business district located on the other side of Bunker Hill.

Detail of Third Street Tunnel, Los Angeles 1903 • This photo shows the 1080-foot tunnel, 26-foot roadway, and 8-foot sidewalks. Construction was begun in 1898, and was completed in 1901, connecting the Crown Hill neighborhood with the business district located on the other side of Bunker Hill.

Point of interest

The pennants on the quilt represent points of interest along the way to the exposition, including eastern locations, as well as stops north and south of San Francisco. The maker obviously visited other attractions while on the West Coast. One pennant is from Los Angeles and features a silk photo transfer of the 1907 Angels Flight, an incline railway car system constructed to allow easy access to the top of Bunker Hill.

The quilt was assembled by the wife of one of the travelers.

I would assume it is A.H.M., as there is only one set of initials on the quilt. The pennants are appliquéd to the background fabric with an embroidery stitch, and the top is quilted with a simple diamond grid.

Gerald E. Roy holding a dog

Gerald E. Roy

The pennants are hand appliquéd on this quilt with decorative embroidery. The same stitch is used on the top of the binding along the edge of the quilt. The quilt is hand quilted with 3½” × 4¼” diamonds on point. At the top of the quilt you can see the initials of the maker and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, as well as the Los Angeles Pennant with a photo of Angels Flight. On the lower half of the quilt is the Denver pennant with a painted Portrait of Chief Grey Eagle on a circle of tooled leather. An American Flag is applied in a three-dimensional manner on the pennant from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Collector and certified quilt appraiser Gerald E. Roy is also a quilter, painter, and antique dealer.


Interested in making your own memory quilts? Check out the courses below for instruction from the experts!



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