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International Quilt Museum

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum (IQSCM) in Lincoln, Nebraska is partnering with American Patchwork & Quilting to share information on quilting traditions around the world.


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What is a Vanne?

This vanne, or small, decorative bedcovering, likely adorned the foot of the bed of a well-to-do Frenchwoman and could be used as a lap piece to cradle a baby. The brilliant green center (the color symbolized fertility and wealth in Marseille, where it was made) and eye-popping pink border are as elaborate as early French piecing got. This piecing is known as a fenetre, or window design. More typical of quilts in the region are whole-cloth quilts, including all-white wedding quilts.

Whether white or colored, wedding quilts used stitched imagery to suggest a bountiful married life. Laurel leaves and flowers, like those in the border of this vanne, as well as vines, fruits and other symbols of abundance appear frequently in Marseille quilts. The narrow channels quilted near the vanne’s edge are also distinctively French: the effect could be achieved by closely quilting the rows or by pulling a narrow cord through the channel, along with the batting, to create dimension.

Photo courtesy of International Quilt Study Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2005.018.0018.