QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT By Quilt Historian Barbara Brackman Above: Compton from Moda's Morris Earthly Paradise

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

String Lanterns & Melons

String quilts were rarely published so the variations
don't have "real names" or "book names". This pattern, most often seen
in southeastern Pennsylvania, is a mystery design.

It's far more organized than the usual string
quilt pieced of random or regular strings of fabric.

Rickrack Antique quilts calls their example Chinese Lanterns.

Here's one that looks more like a lantern than many.

A variation that's more crazy than organized strings.

From the Pat L. Nickols collection
at the Mingei Musueum. The curved shapes include a lot of conventionally
pieced blocks, nine patches, stars, etc.

A cousin to this example at the International
Quilt Study Center and Museum

A more distant cousin---no curves.

I've never seen these variations on the string quilt published---
at least before 1970

From Julie Silber's inventory

You could see the design growing out of a basic melon or orange
peel with string piecing added.

Here are two melon variations from silks and mixed fabrics
with embroidery.

But the extra curves....

The Quilt Index has 511 quilts titled string quilt, and not one of these.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Morris Hexathon 3: Camelot Star

Block #3: Camelot Star by Becky Brown

This week's block is one of the most commonly seen
versions of the hexagon block...

Camelot Star by Bettina Havig

Katherine Shely Fretzlen
Silk quilt dated 1776-1876, 
Collection of the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum

and one of the few hexagonal block designs seen in the 19th century.
The embroidered version above made for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition 
features the 3-piece block set with red triangles.

Lancelot and Guinevere by Florence Harrison,
an illustration for a Morris poem.
"Wherewith we kissed in meeting that spring day,
I scarce dare talk of the remember’d bliss."

The name I've given it here, Camelot Star, refers to a place in the British imagination---the home of Lancelot, a Knight of the Round Table and Guinevere, Queen of Camelot. Arthurian legends of medieval Anglo-Saxon England were among William Morris's favorite books during his University days.

Morris bought a copy of Mallory's 1817 book
about King Arthur when he was a student.

Window with King Arthur and Sir Launcelot
designed by William Morris in 1862 as 
a commission for the house 
of textile merchant Walter Dunlop in Yorkshire.

The tales had great influence on Morris's life work as poet, artist and social activist. He published four Arthurian poems when he was 25 years old in 1859.
Florence Harrison's illustration for Morris's
poem "The Defence of Guenevere."

BlockBase #251a
The oldest published name for this pattern combining a hexagon, a diamond and a 5-sided shape seems to be Hexagonal Star from Hearth and Home magazine about 1910. 

The pattern has many published names, testimony to its popularity.

Hexagon Stars from the 
Nancy Page newspaper column
Dolly Madison Star 
from the pattern company collectors call Home Art
in Omaha

The design is seen before all those 20th-century names were published.

Here the star was pieced into a square in 1844.

Rebecca Scattergood Savery's quilt, dated 1844.
Collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. 

See more about this quilt at the Quaker Quilt History blog and see another version dated 1851 by scrolling down.

Pattern for an 8" Hexagon
(4" sides)

To Print:
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11". 
  • Click on the image above. 
  • Right click on it and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". The hexagon should measure 4" on the sides. 
  • Adjust the printed page size if necessary.
  • Add seams when you cut the fabric. 

Silk quilt made by Mary James Radcliffe
during the 1863 Union occupation of Paducah.
Collection of the Kentucky History Museum

Amish quilt from the Indiana State Museum
Blocks here in both quilts above are set side by side forming black hexagons.

A great mid-20th-century example from the West Virginia
project, photo from the Quilt Index.
The stars are set as an intersecting allover design
rather than being organized into hexagons.

Three mid-20th-century examples

1862 Drawing (cartoon) for the Dunlop house stained glass by 
William Morris, featuring Queen Guinevere on the left

The Morris Firm's windows for the Dunlop house have been preserved in the Stained Glass Gallery at Cliffe Castle Museum in Yorkshire.

Stained Glass Window from the Morris Workshop
at Cliffe Castle

One More Inspiration

Vintage quilt, perhaps 1870s
Set your hexies with a triangle, which makes a double star.
Use the triangle with a 4" finished side
from last week's Crystal Palace pattern.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

My Virtual Booth: Quilt Market Salt Lake City

I went all out this year and shipped in every Civil-War-related
quilt I know of for my virtual booth at Quilt Market this week.

Above a Photoshopped picture of the imaginary booth.

Spring Quilt Market starts this week
in Salt Lake City.

I'm not REALLY going but I like to plan a virtual booth. The theme this
year: Civil War Quilts.

Look for me and Dottie Barker in the section on quilts inspired by
the 1861 Peterson's Magazine pattern for a "Stars & Stripe Bedquilt."
We'll be talking about my next mid-19th-century reproduction line
Baltimore Blues (in shops in the fall.)
You could make a lot of red, white and blue quilts with the line.

I really had to twist some virtual museum arms to get them to loan me their treasures. And the virtual insurance bill was larger than the literal state of Rhode Island.

Ginger Rogers in Gold Diggers of 1933

But as I've said: If I had all the money in the world I'd have a quilt show of
every Civil War quilt we've discovered.

If you can't drop by at market go to my Pinterest page of Civil War quilts:
It's another virtual quilt show.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

An Eagle Quilt by Charlotte Angus

Watercolor of a sampler quilt by Charlotte Angus
for the WPA and the Index of American Design, 1940

I collected a few eagle block pictures for my Facebook
page this week,

images related to this quilt in the Christ Collection
that is in an exhibit opening at the Virginia Quilt Museum today.
American Pride: Eagles and Stars- Quilts from the Pat and Arlan Christ Collection.

Charlotte Angus Stefanak (1911-1989)

And I came across this one in a National Gallery of Art photo, which pictures Charlotte Angus painting a quilt top in 1940. She was employed by the federal government to record American art for the Index of American Design. The location of the quilt top is lost but  her watercolor is at the top of the page.

These eagles seem to be a regional pattern in Ohio's Miami Valley,
a subject which Sue Cummings has explored.

Here's just one more eagle. They are also found in Pennsylvania.

The Virginia Quilt Museum

See more about WPA watercolors of quilts at this post:

See my Facebook page here: