While some contemporary quilts are intentionally “improvisational,” incorporating elements that are intended to break up a standard symmetry, others follow a traditional repetition of forms to create a uniform pattern. These two examples, a Rising Sun (or Mariner's Compass) pattern quilt from around the 1870s, and a quilt titled Stars, Diamonds, and Triangles, 1993, by Boligee quilter Floydzeller Graves, are exacting in their geometry, creating stunning visual designs.


Both quilters were consistent in their use of colors and fabrics, repeating shapes and colors at an identical scale throughout. Each quilt required significant patience and skill to cut and piece (or applique) the individual elements of the starburst forms, as well as the triangles and diamonds. The Rising Sun is composed as squares divided by strings of cloth with rectangles at the crosses; such a quilt could be pieced by one quilter (or by multiple fastidious makers) and then combined to make a top. In Graves’ case, the composition is made up of an overall pattern of squares that suggest the compositional ability and vision of a single maker.


Click on the quilt images for additional information.