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Star of Bethlehem Quilt made by
Henrietta Johnson Wilson about 1850
ID 72.41.1

February 2004

Star of Bethlehem Quilt

Henrietta Johnson Wilson made this beautiful quilt in the "Star of Bethlehem" pattern about 1850. She likely sewed it for her impending marriage to Daniel Wilson, a wealthy Louisville, Kentucky, physician.


MORE: Star of Bethlehem Quilt
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The fabrics that Henrietta chose for her quilt included both fine wood-block printed cottons (printed by hand using wooden blocks) and roller-printed cottons (printed with rollers by machine). The corners of the quilt are decorated with applied wood-block printed birds cut from expensive chintz fabric. The presence of both hand- and machine-printed fabrics in the quilt represents the transition from one technology to another.

To stitch the layers of her quilt together, Henrietta used a variety of quilting patterns, including "teacup" quilting and quilted oak leaf shapes. This quilting still retains pencil marks that guided Henrietta’s talented hand as she sewed tiny, even stitches—an impressive eleven to the inch.

Henrietta Johnson Wilson apparently had money to purchase fine fabrics and enough leisure time to spend hours sewing her lovely quilt.

Nancy E.V. Bryk, Interim Chief Curator

Quilting Genius

See Henrietta’s remarkable quilt for yourself in our exhibit Quilting Genius, open from February 14 through May 9, 2004. There is no charge for admission to the gallery beyond your entrance fee to Henry Ford Museum.




Unfortunately, brown fabric dyes have eaten through some of the quilt’s cotton fabric. Our talented textile conservator, Fran Faile, has spent many hours ensuring that the quilt will be sturdy enough to display despite this deterioration.


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