One of the staple colors of quiltmakers of the 19th century was that strong, deep yellow we call “cheddar” today. Though not as popular as the ubiquitous double pink,, overdyed green or “Lancaster” double blue calicoes, cheddar was used by Pennsylvania German quiltmakers in a number of variations. As a solid color fabric, it was used both in backgrounds and in highlights, particularly in applique quilts. Less common were the cheddar calicos, a double print similar to the blues and pinks, and one seen more often with a cheddar lattice with a black and red figure overprinted.
This latter fabric seems to have been a favorite of one Mary Groh, who made these two quilts in Berks County, PA in the latter part of the 19th century. I like them for their vibrancy, not least because of the color choice.
This Chinese lanterns quilt positions the lanterns as pinwheel or windmill blades, set in a bright cheddar field. Sadly, as sometimes happens, the cheddar is somewhat oxidized in places, taking on a greenish tinge.
This 9-patch variation uses the cheddar only in the outer frame of each block, again shows that oxidation. But I love the way the red patches chain the whole pattern together, with another chain of red diamonds in the border. Mary also made a pink ocean waves quilt with embroidered embellishment that is nothing like these two – just illustrating further her artistry and originality – which is what makes me love the huge variety of Pennsylvania German quilts, particularly those of Berks and Lehigh Counties.