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Sunburst Quilt, Rebecca Scattergood Savery

Astonishingly, this jubilant quilt is made up of approximately 2,900 diamonds of various fabrics. The complex geometric pattern required careful planning, and the quilter relied on a method known as English or paper template to achieve her intricate design. This approach involves using paper cut-outs as the basis for each of the small fabric pieces. The cloth is basted to the paper, and the quilter then “whipstitches” or “overstitches” the pieces to one another. Once the components have been sewn together, the papers are removed. This system allows complex geometric shapes to retain uniformity even as they are joined together in an elaborate overall design. However, the technique is time-consuming and, like all quilting projects, requires patience as the quilter repeats the same steps in succession over a period of days or even years.


This sunburst quilt was found by the donors in a barn outside of Philadelphia. It is one of two quilts in the Museum’s collection—and part of a larger group of six in total—associated with Rebecca Scattergood Savery, a member of a prominent Quaker family from Philadelphia.

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