Some Patches of History-Projects

We are an informal guild of people learning and teaching the techniques of 19th century quilt making and keeping that craft alive at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. 

Juana Machado Quilt
Juana Machado Quilt Image

In the 1850s Doña Juana de Dios Machado Alípas de Wrightington was a local woman; born when San Diego belonged to Spain, lived while it belonged to Mexico and then became part of the United States. A strong woman, she raised 6 children, served as a foster mother, spoke 3 languages and served as a nurse. In the early 1850s, she created what is considered the earliest known quilt to be made in California. Her unique design reflects many influences including early American applique designs.  Juana created a quilt completely her own.

The Old Town San Diego Quilt guild is in the process of re-creating this quilt. The original is located at the San Diego History Center, formerly the San Diego Historical Society. In the process we are learning about her and the people of early San Diego. Come join us as we explore the wonderful mysteries of the quilt and Juana Machado. When it is complete it will be 81” x 62” - just like hers. As part of our interpretive living history program we will be working on the quilt, while dressed in 19th century attire, in the Park for all to come and watch.  Rosie’s Calico Cupboard graciously donated the fabric. We share our progress on the quilt with Rosie’s and the History Center.

We know people helped Juana Machado work on her quilt. There are stitches and fabric cut-outs that indicate the work of different hands. Unfortunately, we have no record of who these people were. Just think, it may have been a woman from the Estudillo, Pedrorena, Robinson or Bandini family!  We are keeping a journal of everyone who has sewn on the quilt. In this journal we ask for the visitor’s names, where they come from, age of the younger visitors, and ask them to add any comments they wish. The results we have received are phenomenal. Here are some of the entries:

Where they come from -

Washington;  Hicksville, New York;  Toronto, Canada;  Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; East Troy, Wisconsin;  San Salvador, El Salvador;  New York; San Clemente, CA; Chatham, New Jersey; Torrance, CA; Minneapolis, MN; Sioux Falls, SD; Sun City West, AZ; Hudson SD; Anaheim, CA; Lake Luzerne, NY; France; Chicago (Skokie), IL; San Ysidro, CA; San Diego, CA; San Fernando Valley, CA; Escondido, CA; Germany; Nauheiw, Germany; Hagerstown, MD; Tustin, CA; Raynham, MA; La Mesa, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Whittier, CA; Elkmond, Alabama; Seaham, New Australia; Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Palmdale, CA; Moore, Texas; Gulf Port MS; Jacksonville, NC;  Mission Valley, CA; Temecula, CA; Michoacan, Mexico; South Korea; Pennsylvania; Gulf Port, MS; Jacksonville, NC; Paradise Hills, CA; DeLand, FL; Reisterstown, MD; Walnut Creek, CA; Tijuana, Mexico; Mzt. Sin., Mexico; Kansas; Yorba Linda, CA; Palm Desert, CA; Wigtown, Cambria, UK; Point Loma, CA; Santee, CA; New Kensington, PA; Carlsbad, CA; Cardiff, CA; Freeland, Michigan; Midland/ Grand Blanc, Michigan; Midvale, Utah; Newbury Park, CA; Sheille, NC; BC, Canada; Rialto, CA; Columbus, OH; Cleveland, OH; Lake Forest, CA; Springfield, IL; Flaer, MT; Omaha, NE; La Verne, CA; Dogle River, Alaska; Hot Springs, AR; Camano Island, WA; Ramsgate, UK; Morris, MN; Rijssen, Nederland; San Francisco, CA; Madison, WI; Marietta, Georgia; LaCrosse, WI; Gatesburg, IL; Sun City, CA; Longview, WA; Meca, AZ; Denver, CO; Wauwatosa, WI; Thousand Oaks, CA; Cat Proux. France; Herndon, VA; Long Beach, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Lemoore, CA; Western Australia; New Jersey; Bonita, CA; Chula Vista, CA; Israel; Venice Beach, CA; Dummerston, VT; Huntington Beach, CA; Guadalajara Fal Mexico; Auburn, CA; Calgary, AB, Canada;

Their ages -

Youngest -  Ariel- Texas, age 4; Sophie - age 4; Amaya - age 4
Oldest (who have revealed their age)  Carla K. age 58; Catherine P. age 65

Their comments -

  • “the conversation with the quilters was so informative and confortable”
  • “I made stitches in the quilt for the very first time. How very cool!”
  • “To Juana Maria Machado and the women who are keeping her legacy alive”
  • “This has been one of my most rewarding days while working in OTSDSHP.”
  • “So much fun - everyone so friendly and inviting!”
  • “Happy to add a few stitches to a beautiful project”
  • “It was fun working on the quilt, even if I will never live it down with my mother.”
  • “This quilt is sewn with love and appreciation for those who came before us.”
  • “I’ll treasure my ‘small part’ and share the experience with my mother who is a wonderful quilter.”
  • “Thank goodness I don’t have to wear what I sew! Thanks for the opportunity to appreciate my life”
  • ”What a great experience with my daughter”

Civil War Tribute Quilt

Civil War Quilt Illustration

The Old Town San Diego State Historic Park Civil War Tribute Quilt began as an inspiration during the summer of 2010. With the sesquicentennial of the Civil War arriving, many people across the country are finding various methods to remember the war. Although San Diego seems a long way away from where the Civil War battles occurred, California was gearing up and preparing in case the war should extend west.  A Civil War tribute quilt was a perfect opportunity to create a new quilt. It is inspired by quilts made during the Civil War and will allow us to share stories about San Diego’s connection to the events of the time. Many considerations went into the design of the quilt.


Quilt Blocks Descriptions

Multiple quilts of the time included the tall triangle border. One is the famous quilt by Jane A. Stickle from Vermont in 1863. It consists of 169 blocks, each one 4.5” in size. It is surrounded by a triangle border.  “Old Homestead” Sampler quilt made in Maryland circa 1860 has the same triangle border in red creating a very dramatic edge.

Next to the triangles is a band of 16 blocks. Each block was chosen based on its name. Sampler quilts made with blocks of a variety of designs have been popular since the 1840s. We looked for block names that reflected San Diego and its history. The corner blocks are called the “California Rose” and the “Mexican Rose.” The other block names are “Road to California,” “Mariner’s Compass,”  “Anvil,” “Blazed Trail,” “California,” “Basket,” “School House,” “Broken Wheel,” “Card Trick,”  “Bear’s Paw,” and “Star of the West.” One block pays tribute to the quilt guild’s current project, the reproduction of Juana Machado’s 1850s quilt.

The third row is a traditional pattern called “Flying Geese” which will allow us to show off our collection of reproduction Civil War fabrics.

The fourth band is 8 “Chimney Sweep” blocks which will be green in color. This block is another pattern commonly found in Civil War era quilts. Many quilts during the Civil War were often done in just red and white or red, white and green. The connection of the green blocks to the red triangles will pay tribute to these quilts. The center of each block will contain facts about the Civil War and San Diego’s connections.

When finished, the quilt should be 81” x 81”. The majority of the quilt will be handmade and hand quilted. The quilt will be worked on by staff and volunteers. It is to be used as an interpretive and instructional tool for the public and when completed will remain with the park on display.
Quilt Blocks Descriptions

Multiple quilts of the time included the tall triangle border. One is the famous quilt by Jane A. Stickle from Vermont in 1863. It consists of 169 blocks, each one 4.5” in size. It is surrounded by a triangle border.  “Old Homestead” Sampler quilt made in Maryland circa 1860 has the same triangle border in red creating a very dramatic edge.

Next to the triangles is a band of 16 blocks. Each block was chosen based on its name. Sampler quilts made with blocks of a variety of designs have been popular since the 1840s. We looked for block names that reflected San Diego and its history. The corner blocks are called the “California Rose” and the “Mexican Rose.” The other block names are “Road to California,” “Mariner’s Compass,”  “Anvil,” “Blazed Trail,” “California,” “Basket,” “School House,” “Broken Wheel,” “Card Trick,”  “Bear’s Paw,” and “Star of the West.” One block pays tribute to the quilt guild’s current project, the reproduction of Juana Machado’s 1850s quilt.

The third row is a traditional pattern called “Flying Geese” which will allow us to show off our collection of reproduction Civil War fabrics.

The fourth band is 8 “Chimney Sweep” blocks which will be green in color. This block is another pattern commonly found in Civil War era quilts. Many quilts during the Civil War were often done in just red and white or red, white and green. The connection of the green blocks to the red triangles will pay tribute to these quilts. The center of each block will contain facts about the Civil War and San Diego’s connections.

When finished, the quilt should be 81” x 81”. The majority of the quilt will be handmade and hand quilted. The quilt will be worked on by staff and volunteers. It is to be used as an interpretive and instructional tool for the public and when completed will remain with the park on display.