QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Southern Quilts


Unnamed pattern from the Kentucky project and the Quilt Index.

As a person who has spent entirely too much time indexing quilt patterns, determined to find the published source for every one of them, I have long been confounded by Southern quilts. These are not "book patterns" as they say in Gees Bend.


I have eagerly awaited the publication of Southern Quilts: Celebrating Traditions, History, and Designs. Mary W. Kerr has collected 13 quilt historians to write about their areas of expertise. She also collected pictures of 270 Southern quilts for this book. That's a lot of pictures, thank you, Schiffer Publishing. And a lot of information, thank you, Mary.

It's the perfect picture book and the information by all those historians is the definitive summary of Southern quilts and what makes them different from Eastern, Western, Northern quilts and regular old book patterns.

Elizabeth Wages Butler, Alabama
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

For years quilt historians have been puzzled by the many contradictions in Southern quilts made after the Civil War. Stitchers frequently chose ambitious pattern that often seemed to overwhelm their skills.  No one ever appeared to be intimidated by too many pieces, too much bias or too many points. Quiltmakers chose gorgeous color in cheap and unreliable cottons that usually lost their color--resulting in an unintended palette that is beautiful in its own right. We see a formidable amount of needlework in thick quilts that kept out the cold and were used and used up.


Here a short sample of topics addressed:
Circles and Spikes by Teddy Pruett

Mary Elizabeth Eddleman 
Historic Arkansas Museum collection
(These are photos from my files---You're going to buy the book
so you can see their photos.)

She says: "Quilt makers in the deep South were extremely fond of circular patterns, particularly circular patterns with points, teeth and spikes....It would be gratifying to know why this is so, but the answer to that question is not readily available....These circular patterns are not for the faint of heart."

 "They are stunning works visually if not technically." 

Pattern found in Alamance County, North Carolina

Alamance Applique by Kathlyn Sullivan
She says: "Fabric choices were limited for Southern quilt makers. The source of fabric was primarily the crossroads general store....Southern mills produced plain cloth dyed as a solid...Printed cloth was not produced locally until just before the start of the twentieth century, until that time prints were imported from Northern mills, which made them more expensive."


Crown of Thorns by Merikay Waldvogel
She says: "It originated in the southeast with examples coming from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. A quilt in this pattern from Tennessee was dated in the quilting  '1857.' A quilt from Georgia was titled 'Rocky Mountain' in the quilting."

Chapter Headings:

Making Do- a Southern Tradition by Mary W. Kerr
Alabama Pine Burr by Mary Elizabeth Johnson
Alamance Applique by Kathlyn Sullivan
Circles and Spikes by Teddy Pruett
Cotton Boll by Kathlyn Sullivan
Crown of Thorns by Merikay Waldvogel
Double Wedding Ring by Sherry Burkhalter
Farmer's Fancy by Bunnie Jordan
The Impact of the Feedsack on Southern Quilts by Sarah Bliss Wright
Pieced Pine Burr by Mary W. Kerr
Rattlesnake Quilts by Marcia Kaylakie
Seven Sisters by Sandra Starley
Southern Florals by Lisa Erlandson
Tricolor Quilts: How the Germans of Pennsylvania Influenced a Color Palette and Style in the South by Lynn Lancaster Gorges
Whig's Defeat by Gaye Rick Ingram

Read more about Southern Quilts at Schiffer Publications:
https://www.schifferbooks.com/southern-quilts-celebrating-traditions-history-and-designs-6408.html

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Peggy Westerfield: Textile Collector

Set of triangular blocks in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg.

Here's the online catalog information.
Printed Cotton Appliqued Document, ca. 1830
Twenty-seven [pieces] that were never used. They were probably created with the intent to be made up into an appliqued quilt or quilt top.
Provenance: Ex-collection of Grace Hartshorn Westerfield (Mrs. Jason Westerfield) of Camden, Maine. No further provenance is known.


The pieces have been photographed on a black panel.

The bird in the lower left corner is a familiar print.

Bird with curly tail feathers in a South Carolina quilt dated 1847
in the MESDA collection.

The bird appears three times in this quilt by Johanna Davis of Charleston,
South Carolina, documented in the Kentucky project.

The center square
(the only square) is a vase of flowers, a 
Chinese inspired design, distinctive with its curly knobs on the sides.

Colonial Williamsburg also has a set of  25 quilt blocks (quilt squares)
from a different donor.

 "probably intended,...for Mary B. Clarke before her marriage to David H. Porter in 1855." Many are signed and dated with locations in adjacent Aiken County, South Carolina and Richmond County, Georgia.

Here's a simpler version from the same set and the curlicues have been trimmed.
These blocks descended in the Clarke/Porter family.

The collector is just as interesting as the triangular blocks. I first noticed her in the 1952 article from Life Magazine that I showed in the last post.


Grace Hartshorn (1885-1974) who married three times was known as Peggy. With her last husband Jason Westerfield (1878–1959) she lived in Camden, Maine where they restored vintage houses decorated with antiques. She was quite a collector of textiles, books, manuscripts and other antiquities.
Another of her gifts to Colonial Williamsburg is this 18th-
century English sample book currently on display.

In the last years of her life she made gifts to various institutions, including Colonial Williamsburg, where the triangular blocks above were given the year she died. She also donated to the Smithsonian, the Brooklyn Museum, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Colby and Bowdoin Colleges.


Life pictured her with one of her "rags" a cut-out chintz bedcover. At the time she was a source for fabric designers looking for what we might call document prints. According to Life they called them rags. (I've never heard anyone call these rags.)

Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; 
Gift of The Jason and Peggy Westerfield Collection, 1969

Shaded blue and buff wrapper from her collection.

Westerfield donated many articles of dress to the Brooklyn Museum in 1969. In 2009 the Brooklyn collection was moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Well over a hundred items in the Costume Collection are from her.

"Lord Charlemont at the Provincial Review in Phoenix Park, 
Dublin, June 3, 1782" An Irish print. 
Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Donated in 1958. 

She also donated a 1950s reproduction of this print from Greef Fabrics to the Museum of Fine Arts.

A Greef reproduction called Parakeet.
They did a line called Document Hill with prints
from Westerfield's collections.

We can assume a collector as devoted as Peggy Westerfield bought her treasures all over the world, so we have no idea where she found the blocks at the top of the page. But I'm guessing South Carolina or nearby.

We can thank her for her generosity and the time she and her executors spent in dispersing her collections.
From the Brooklyn Museum Collection

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Repro Fabric Business in 1952


In 1952 Life Magazine did an article on reproduction prints, which had apparently become the fashion for decorating.

Spaghetti straps on the cover.


They showed several prints for furnishings with the implication that these were accurate reproductions of vintage fabrics. The idea at the time seems to have been to stylize the antique imagery.


The original print that inspired the Bird & Fruit above. 
Quite a few changes.

Here's an interpretation of a Portuguese print, a Chinoiserie.  Loose interpretation.

I can guess the source was something like this stripe printed for the Portuguese (export) market.

This Portuguese print from the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum.


Ship print in a stripe, supposedly "an exact copy of ...a 19th Century French textile design."
I find this unlikely. It is interesting how the vogue for antiques became part of modernism.


Monticello from a print at Jefferson's home.


Read the article here:


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Amelia Lauck's Hewson Quilt?

Detail of stuffed work in an Amelia Lauck quilt.
We know quite a bit about Amelia Lauck who
has five quilts in two museums.

"Made 
By 
Amelia Lauck in
the 62 Year of her
Age April 15th
1823"

The Daughters of the American Revolution Museum has three quilts and Colonial Williamsburg two in their collections.

Two similar medallion quilts framed by Delectable Mountain pieced borders
in the DAR's collection.


And two very similar quilts in the Colonial Williamsburg collection.
All have intricate stuffed work quilting in the white borders.



While working on a post about quilts with John Hewson
panels I recalled this quilt from the Orlofsky collection
shown in Myron & Patsy Orlofsky's 1974 book Quilts in America.

Looking closely at the photo I noticed that this medallion
quilt in a Delectable Mountain design also had intricate stuffed
work quilting in the white borders.

As I recall the Orlofskys found this quilt at a New England sale.
It certainly looks like a sixth quilt from the Lauck workshop




Below is the third quilt attributed to Amelia Lauck (or her daughter-in-law) at the DAR Museum.

Mathematical Star Quilt, 1830s 
Amelia Heiskell Lauck (1760-1842) and/or Eliza Jane Sowers Lauck (1812-1872)
Winchester, Frederick County or Page County, Virginia
Gift of Sally Ann Lauck Harris, 2006.3.2
DAR Museum

The star is quite different, a later style.

 Amelia Lauck (1760-1842) by Jacob Frymire, MESDA collection

This is certainly a prodigious output for one woman, particularly in the quilting. We know she owned  slaves and possibly had them plus hired servants and employees doing needlework for her.

A link to one of her quilts at Colonial Williamsburg:

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Jeffie Beaver Smith's Prize Winning Quilts

Traditional Southern pattern in 20th-century fabrics.
Here's a classic Southern quilt with a lot of information about
the maker and the time it was made.


The online quilt dealer Buckboard Quilts has several quilts by Jeffie Beaver Smith of 
Violet Hill, Arkansas

Jeffie E. Beaver Smith (1894-1985)


In 1927 Jeffie won a prize for "Best Fancy Quilt" at the Calico Rock Annual Fair, a four-county fair in Arkansas.

You can buy a collection of Jeffie's quilts with photos of her and her prize certificate. Click here and scroll down:

Calico Rock in the 1950s

Izard County is in Northern Arkansas.


We often see these traditional designs made up in thirties fabric. Jeffie
was obviously interested in reproducing antique style.



She's supposed to have cleaned up every year at the local fair and across the state line in Oklahoma.