Stripes (Cigar Ribbons)

August, 2021

Stripes (Cigar Ribbons)

Maker unidentified

Possibly made in Maine or Vermont
circa 1890-1910
Silk; hand pieced and embroidered
IQM 2003.003.0005

The silk ribbons were prized objects in the collecting mania that began with the leisure classes in the late 1800s. The craze for advertising novelties like the cigar silk ribbons was sparked by the distribution of manufacturers’ trading cards at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition.

A brisk trade in cigar ribbons developed from around 1875 to 1911 among women who sewed.  Instructions for making pillows, quilts and tablecloths from cigar silk ribbons appeared in magazines like Housekeeping. Crazy quilts, log cabin and fan patterns were popular quilts made with the ribbons. Photographs of winning pillows made from them appeared in the Ladies’ Home Journal in September 1900. Embroidery, in herringbone or feather stitches, similar to those found in crazy quilts, were used to embellish each ribbon.

This quilt appeared in Abstract Design in American Quilts at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1971 and traveled around the world with the exhibit. It also appears in the International Quilt Museum's Abstract Design in American Quilts at 50.