Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Quilting Parties of Questionable Accuracy

The Brothers Assist in the Quilting, Harper's Weekly, 1863

I've been posting about vintage images of quilting parties here and at my 
Civil War Quilts blog.
The wood engraving above seems to represent the end
of the work and the beginning of the supper. 

The cook in the kitchen is one of many women laughing
at the men trying to thread needles. Why they are threading
needles after the quilting is finished I cannot say.
Perhaps they are binding the quilt.

Quilting Party, 1849

The similarities between this 1849 illustration and the 1863 picture
indicate the earlier engraving as a source for the other.
Women are either binding a quilt or the artist knew
very little about how quilts were quilted.

A Gilbert, Leisure Hours, 1890

Gilbert seems to have a good idea of how an 1890 quilt might
look but the finished quilt is more for visual effect than showing
how quilts are made.

The visual effect is always important.
You see a lot more pictures of women pretending
to sew on finished quilts than women actually
sewing patchwork.

Part of the caption here: "The work was tedious, but Argaree and her sister enjoyed working on the project together." (Hey, reporters! Doing dishes is tedious, patchwork is not.)

I couldn't find a picture of the most egregious error in
depicting quiltmaking, which was a late-20th-century Northern Bath
Tissue advertisement where women were quilting
with knitting needles. Here the artist has bowed
to public pressure and put more accurate needles in
their hands. I see the knitting needles are now in the hair.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Richmond Reds: Document Print for Austin

Every mid-19th-century reproduction collection
needs a sprigged floral.

Austin from Richmond Reds for Moda

The 19th-century scrapbag was full of small-scale sprigged cotton prints,
a standard for clothing for young and old

from the "sprigged muslin" of Jane Austen's era.....

Fiction from 1797 in which a 
young woman complains that her husband has denied her
 "a small sum to purchase a piece of sprigged muslin,
 which struck my fancy."

to fashion advice from The Delineator in 1922:

"Sprigged cotton prints are made into quaint little dresses with straight lower edges and separate knickers."

A sprigged cotton according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, is "decorated with a design of sprigs of leaves or flowers..."

The document print for Austin.
(The document is the original antique fabric.)
I dated it as about 1860 to 1890, although these small sprigs are 
such classics they run throughout the 19th century and into the 20th.

A swatch of #8306-11
the reproduction.

The Austin print comes in two shades
of pink as well as brown, tan and red.

Buy yards of it! I'm telling you:

You'll find it useful for reproductions from all eras.

Antique quilt about 1820-1840

About 1840-1860

About 1840-1860

About 1870-1890

About 1870-1890

About 1880-1920

About 1880-1920


Why did I name it Austin?
I was looking for city names North and South for this Civil-War era
collection and that town in Texas has a ring...


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Richmond Reds: Projects & Kits

Richmond Reds
79" x 79"

For every Moda fabric collection our pattern designers work with the fabric designer to come up with a "Project Sheet." Susan Stiff and I collaborated on this star design for Richmond Reds, which is being shipped to stores in September. The above quilt has been packaged as a kit. You can pre-order now.

But we aren't the only designers coming up with ideas for kits and patterns. I am glad to see some "crowd sourcing" going on at Etsy and EBay. 

Me thinking up ideas

This means I do not have to come up with all the clever ideas for how to use my pre-cuts and yardage. Other people do it too.

I love it. 
You can buy these kits with patterns online.

Here are two searches to click on:



Scroll down and see what's up. Or do searches for these words:

Moda Kit Richmond Reds

You'll find kits for many other lines too. If you see a fabric collection you like
do a search for kits.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Quilting Bees: Romance and Magic

 Enoch Wood Perry: The Two Sewers (A Quilting Party), 1875

The social aspects of cooperative quilting around
a frame have captured the eye of many painters of "Americana."
Perry's paintings reflects a post-Civil-War nostalgia for the past.

One of his sewers tells us a lot about how body language
changes. I'd swear she was answering her cell phone,
but she's holding a spool of thread to her head.
Why, I do not know.

UPDATE: Nicole has a clue.
The woman with cell phone is measuring out a length of thread. Look at her other hand! I measure mine hand to heart, but hand to ear works as well.

I measure mine to my elbow (doubled)

Jayne has another clue

 I think cell phone lady is cutting the thread with her teeth. See how her mouth is held, and her teeth are showing? I would never have noticed it if you hadn't updated about measuring a length of thread. Yes, I have done that, and I used to be able to cut thread with my teeth.

The other sewer is intent on her work (she's probably got her phone turned off). 
The magic here is in the frame. What is holding it up?

For my Civil War Quilts blog I've been writing about
authentic mid-19th-century quilting frames and I found
out quickly that one gets a lot more information from
photographs than paintings.

Perry's Girl Quilting, date-inscribed 1885,
indicates his interest in the subject. But
over ten years he didn't learn a thing about
how quilting frames are supported.

The quilt top looks historically accurate. As does the pegged frame
with holes, but I've not seen anyone put the peg
in at a diagonal.

I cannot read the signature on this image
but the artist uses the same artistic license
as Perry. The frame's strong horizontal line
is reason enough to paint it. Who cares how
it's held up?
UPDATE: I see the signature is E.W. Perry
so it's a third of his quilting images. Again the cross
bar is pegged at an angle.

Morgan Weistling is a contemporary painter who often uses quilts in his nostalgic imagery. It's the kind of image that makes a historian wince. The kid's shiny face under the quilt gives me the cynical willies too.The quilt's wrong for the era he's attempting to depict, but the whole thing is a historical mishmash...

including the magic of the frame's suspension. Note that
rickety hand-made chair.
The whole idea would make Dorothy Parker frow up.
But I digress...

Edgar Melville Ward, Quilting Party, 1892
Collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum

Other artists seem more attentive to the actual
mechanics of the quilting party.

Henry Mosler's  Quilting Bee, painted about 1890,
depicts an 18th-century event.

The quilter on the left uses the ladder-back
chair that holds up the frame as a worktable.

(In looking at this a little closer I am confused. Is
the chair holding up the frame or the frame holding
the chair?)

On the right the frame is supported by the
arm of a larger chair. I wouldn't want
to be the woman who has to share my chair
with the frame. You couldn't wiggle much.

Quilting nostalgia at an 1864 Sanitary Fair

The woman in the center foreground here
has the same problem. I'd be bringing my folding
chair if I had to sit like this.

Quilting Party by Pauline Jackson, about 1955

Jackson's frame has sturdy supports and everybody
gets their own chair.

The Quilting Bee by Anna Mary Robertson, 1940s.

The painter known as Grandma Moses had trouble
depicting real space, part of the charm of her naive
paintings. The dining table and the quilting frame
are held up in similar, rather unbelievable fashion,

Don't lean on the end of either.

The artist's best bet is to just ignore
the mechanics and focus on the
quilt. (I hope the bottled beverages
here never fizz over.)

Of course, these painters are "artists," and each has an artistic
license. Faith Ringold has invited Vincent Van Gogh
to her quilting bee, and you KNOW you
can't really do that. You also KNOW the quilt
is not a magic carpet.

See more serious discussion of the mechanics of the quilting frame at my Civil War Quilts
blog last weekend.