Wild Goose Chase

October, 2020

Wild Goose Chase

Maker Unknown

Circa 1880-1900
Possibly made in Western, Pennsylvania
78.5 x 77.5 inches (199 x 197 centimeters)
IQM 1997.007.0425

This circa 1880-1900 red and white quilt was pieced using a Wild Goose Chase pattern with diamonds placed five across while also alternating larger solid and hollow diamonds. This quilt is in pristine condition, making it an exceptional example of a red and white quilt.

Back in the 1800s, red calicoes were frequently achieved by dyeing the ground red using madder in what was called the "Turkey red" process. The next step was to remove or discharge the red color in some areas by printing them with a bleach compound. 

These discharged areas could then be overprinted with other colors, if desired. If the discharge printed fabric was not properly rinsed to remove the chlorine bleaching agent, or if the bleach was too strong, it weakened the fabric, resulting in complete disintegration of the bleached areas over time. Damage such as this resulting from an inherent defect caused by the manufacturing process is called an inherent vice.

Properly caring for the textile will slow this process, but cannot entirely stop the deterioration. Closely regulating temperature and humidity and reducing light levels and length of light exposure will slow the chemical reactions that result in fabric degradation.